3 Social Media Lessons from Ford

3 Social Media Lessons from Ford
Image credit: Scott Monty

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To generate real results and accomplish long-term goals over social media, businesses need to think beyond simple, one-off campaigns and make a regular commitment to marketing and customer engagement on social media. That's what Ford Motor Co.'s global head of social media, Scott Monty, said today at the "Social Wheels in Motion" session during Social Media Week, which kicked off yesterday in New York City.

With nearly 90,000 followers on Twitter, Monty blogs about social media marketing and has developed a reputation as one of the top thought leaders on all things social.

Examining some of the campaigns he's managed at Ford, Monty offered attendees some lessons for managing social media for brands. Here are three of his top takeaways:

1. Let your followers tell your business story.
Perhaps the social media campaign Ford is best known for rolled out in 2009 and was called the "Fiesta Movement." Ford recruited 100 people to drive the Ford Fiesta for six months, and paid for their gas and car insurance. The drivers were then asked to share their experiences driving the car on YouTube and FiestaMovement.com.

Related: 5 Daily Habits for Effective Social Media Marketing

What started with a simple social video contest wound up generating a huge amount of buzz. The Fiesta Movement generated 6.2 million views on YouTube, 750,000 views on Flickr and 40 million Twitter impressions, Monty said, driving more than 100,000 people to Ford's website. (Ford is reviving the Fiesta Movement campaign for the 2014 model.)

Build a great product or service and let your customers use it and share their experiences over social media. "If you have a great product, don't be afraid," Monty said. "Let them be your voice."

2. Create a social media a dialogue, not a broadcasting system.
On social media, customers "want to engage with personalities, not product features," Monty said. Translation: Don't use Facebook and Twitter to simply announce new products or services.

To engage with your customers and help increase their loyalty to your brand, understand who they are -- what their interests are and how they interact on social media. As an example, Monty pointed to Ford's creation of Doug, a "spokespuppet" character that appeared in several YouTube webisodes promoting the Ford Focus. The character was brash and funny, and increased awareness about the Focus among a younger demographic.

Related: 3 Must-Know Basics to Managing Your Company's Social Media

"Dialogue with people in a way they can understand, not corporate-speak," Monty said.

3. Celebrate your fans.
At the core of Ford's social media efforts is an effort to give the company's fans and followers a chance to experience the brand in ways they never expected -- and be rewarded for it. Before the unveiling of the 2011 Explorer, Ford created a Facebook page that gave its fans sneak peeks at features and video interviews with the design team and chief engineer. Another example, the Ford Social site, allows customers to claim badges based on their interests, win exclusive access to industry events and even submit suggestions for new vehicle features.

"Engagement matters," Monty said. "Take time to appreciate and celebrate your fans."

Related: Low-Cost Tools for Managing Social Media

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