The 7 Secrets to Ford's Social Media Marketing Success

Last year I noticed articles and videos appearing online and on Social Media such as YouTube about the Ford Fiesta. So I decided to dig a little deeper to find out about what Ford were doing in Social Media to market their products.

Scott Monty is the Head of Social Media at Ford and has only been there since 2008 and put in place a Social Media strategy including multiple Social Media channels.

Scott said that his “Jewel in the Crown” is the Ford Fiesta Movement that involved selecting 100 socially vibrant individuals who were provided with the European version of the Ford Fiesta 18 months prior to it being manufactured and released in the USA. These socially media aware fanatics were encouraged to share their experience with the Ford Fiesta over the 6 months on their Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube channels.

What were the strategies that Ford implemented to create viral awareness without one dollar of traditional marketing spend?

The 7 secrets to Fords Social Media Marketing Success

  1. People trust corporations less so with the rise of social media you need to allow other people through word of mouth create trust for you through Social Media (it amplifies your message)
  2. Reached out to those who are listening and let them do the talking for you and to connect with people like themselves
  3. Let them know that you are real people just like them and are passionate about what they do and the Ford Brand
  4. Run a competition involving Social Media eg.. To be selected to drive a Ford Fiesta for six months – select 100 of those who are “socially vibrant” such as Michelle McCormack ..view her application on YouTube.
  5. Aggregated the content on Fords Fiesta movement website (crowd sourcing content) without editing it!
  6. Implemented multiple Social Media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create digital buzz
  7. “Get On Board” the executive team and the board of directors

The Results

  • 11 million Social Networking impressions
  • 5 million engagements on social networks (people sharing and receiving)
  • 11,000 videos posted
  • 15,000 tweets.. not including retweets
  • 13,000 photos
  • 50,000 hand raisers who have seen the product in person or on a video who said that they want to know more about it when it comes out and 97% of those don’t currently drive a Ford vehicle
  • 38% awareness by Gen Y about the product, without spending a dollar on traditional advertising ( Fords model “Fusion” doesn’t have that awareness after 2 years of being out in production and yet it has received hundreds of millions of dollars in traditional marketing spend).

Following the Ford Fiesta movement the launch of the Fiesta Ford did run a traditional marketing campaign including  TV, Print and and Outdoor advertising.

According to J.D. Power, about 9% of spending this year by automakers will be digital (Ford’s share spend is 25%.. and they were the only company not bailed out by the Federal Government), but that will rise to about 12% by 2012 as more companies embrace social networking, online gaming and rich media ads in place of traditional TV and print.

Scott Monty’s advice on whether Social Media Marketing is right for your company,

“If your customers are there you need to be there too” he also went on to say “You need to listen.. see how they behave and act similiarly”

So how can you apply these strategies to your company’s marketing mix?

Comments

  • johnakerson

    I love Scott Monty’s quote – “If your customers are there you need to be there too” he also went on to say “You need to listen.. see how they behave and act similiarly”

    I think that this sums up social media:

    Social Media gives the very biggest companies the ability to listen to their customers.
    ->
    Listening to customers is the best way to tell what customers want.
    ->
    Knowing what customers want is essential in meeting customers needs.
    ->
    Meeting customers needs provides competitive advantage that is essential to success.

    Therefore:

    Social media can be an essential element to developing unique competitive advantage, and can be an essential element to success, for any company.

  • http://tammymcdaniel.wordpress.com tammymcdaniel

    Thank you for the post. I focus more on the SMB and Social Media and there are great lessons to be learned from what Ford accomplished.

    Whenever a company can tie an offline brand experience to social media the better the success of the campaign. ” involved selecting 100 socially vibrant individuals who were provided with the European version of the Ford Fiesta 18 months prior to it being manufactured and released in the USA. These socially media aware fanatics were encourgaed to share their experience with the Ford Fiesta over the 6 months on their Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube channels.” – Brilliant!

    When brick and mortar business owners want to take advantage of social media to achieve their goals, finding a marriage between an offline product and social media interaction will go a long way toward success.

    I don’t think every company (especially the SMB) could afford to do what Ford did. A great place to start would be being present and active on several social media platforms then finding a creative way to interact with your audience.

    I am looking for creative ideas to tie a direct mail piece (snail mail) with a social media campaign. Any thoughts?

  • http://www.deetergallahergroup.com Anne Deeter Gallaher

    Great post, Jeff. Ford is an organic marketing case study on how corporations big and small can succeed in the conversation space.

    One change I would make: move #7 on your list to #1. “Get on board the executive team and the board of directors” is the most powerful piece to their marketing success, in my opinion. Having hosted @ScottMonty here in Harrisburg last June for a social media for business seminar with @RichardEJordan2 and IABC Harrisburg, I know that a social media campaign goes nowhere without executive buy in.

    Ford’s significant investment of 25% of their budget in social media marketing is only possible because Ford CEO Alan Mulally blesses it. He sees the value and now they see the ROI. Mr. Mulally is the corporation’s consummate brand agent and conversationalist! He and Scott Monty make a powerful 1-2 marketing punch with cars, chemistry, conversation! As Alan Mulally has said many times, “Scott rocks!” I agree. Thanks for your insight.

    Anne Deeter Gallaher
    @AnneDGallaher

  • http://getglobalassist.com Claudia Guzman

    Indeed, social media provides an avenue to connect more personally with customers. As what I have come across in an article I’ve read somewhere, “People don’t talk to brands, they talk to people.” Engaging with people in a personal manner generates not only high marketing potential, boosting your power to influence, and builds a trusting relationship.

  • robfitzpat

    Hey Jeff, great article, thanks.

    Couldn’t agree more with #1 & 2 (enabling your evangelists to speak for you). Customer decisions rely so heavily on each other’s opinions… It’s a huge waste not to take full advantage of these unsolicited testimonials. We actually think it’s a big enough problem that we’ve recently launched http://habitstream.com, helping to re-broadcast the nice things people are saying so you get maximum effect.

    Ford’s doing really interesting work in social. Look forward to seeing more behind-the-scenes.

  • http://www.dcacomputers.com.au David

    You have given me a great idea Jeff.

    I will make use of that spare room at the back of facility and get a functioning model of our latest super computer in there. Then invite a few of the socially active gamers from the Whirlpool forum in for a shoot-em-up test drive.

    That might get a few of the enthusiasts twitching and sharing.

    Thanks.

    • http://jeffbullas.com jeffbullas

      Great idea David..involving socially vibrant participants should increase awareness about your brand….sounds like the creative juices are starting to flow. :)

  • http://certifiedfreelance.com Florante Valdez

    Hi Jeff. This is really a brilliant idea. I’ve read a few social media strategies and so far this is probably one of the most succinct marketing plans that i’ve come across. It takes a little bit of ingenuity and decisiveness and this is exactly what filters the rocks from the sand. What my main concern right now is knowing, whether this has resulted into a cost benefit on ROI. That would surely be another milestone.

    • http://jeffbullas.com jeffbullas

      Hi Florante.. I think the ROI is a no brainer, several hundred million dollars to get a less than 38% awareness for one of Fords other products that has been out on the market for 2 years .. and the Ford Fiesta Project created 38% of Fiesta awareness without spending a dollar of high cost of traditional media.

  • Scott

    I learned a lot of your post here. Not just this one alone. You have some insighful posts. I am embarking on a new career in advertising and I have been assigned to help build up the Social Media department at a small firm, so you’re extremely helpful to those of us who are new to this world.
    In my reasearch I noticed that another worthy case study is Southwest. Have you ever looked at their social media model. It appeared, to me, that they have a sound model for any company; being what I would call a ‘standard’ approach (all the basics in a cohesive way). It’s worthy looking at: company blog, youtube channel, flikr account, twitter. In the travel industry it’s the most complete use of Social Media I’ve seen.
    Just a thought.
    Keep up the wonderful job!

  • http://www.jonathansalembaskin.com Jonathan Salem Baskin

    What glorious nonsense! Ford hasn’t sold a single Fiesta and its social experiment has willingly traded awareness of its vehicles for awareness of its consumers being aware of its vehicles…

    They jury is so NOT in on this yet Ford is quick to write its ‘must do’ lists? Come on, this isn’t marketing, it’s fantasy.

    • http://www.simplesolutionsfordifficultproblems.com/ CAROL JONES

      JONATHAN,

      Greetings from rural Australia.

      It’s so refreshing to read your comment.

      The bottom line is always the ‘ker-ching’, ‘ker-ching’ of money going into the till.

      Marketing and sales is indeed about building relationships. And social media excels at that.

      But if the use of social media doesn’t translate into measurable sales, we’re all wasting our time. And the time of our followers and fans.

      I have a heightened awareness of what a Hermes bag is. Also a Porsche. And own neither.

      The Ford experiment reminds me of the days in retailing when ‘loss leaders’ reigned supreme. Until retailers started looking at their figures and discovered their loss leaders were exactly that. Products leading them into loss situations.

      Thank you for bursting the balloon. Someone has to do it.

      All the best and take care,

      Carol

      Carol Jones
      Director
      Interface Pty Ltd
      Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover
      http://www.SimpleSolutionsForDifficultProblems.com
      http://www.InterfaceAustralia.com

      Twitter: http://twitter.com/@ClassyRuralGal
      LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/CarolJonesLinkedIn
      Facebook: http://bit.ly/CarolJonesFaceBook

    • Josh

      Jonathan, how can you make statements like that? As of February 2011, Fiesta had its best sales month ever with 6,270 vehicles and continues to gain share in its market segment — straight from the source: http://www.blueovalnews.com/index.php?categoryid=22

      6,270 vehicles last month alone is a hell of a lot more than the zero you claim they sold. Speak with facts and stop fearing social media.

  • http://www.gmig.co.uk Jason Rudland @ Inbound Internet Marketing

    An excellent case study – thank you.

  • http://www.ahventure.com AHVenture

    Nice initiative and interesting figures !

  • Verndale

    Great post! It would be interesting to see a comparison between the TV, print and outdoor advertising campaigns versus the social media campaign – not only looking at visibility, but the conversion rate as well.

    I agree with Scott Monty’s quote, which is why its important to have campaigns on several different channels. This is a good article that discusses the impact that social media has had on the marketing industry, Google and Bing…http://bit.ly/9y8XMk

  • http://www.momentumsm.co.uk eddie @ inbound marketing uk

    Great article and case study. It would be interesting to see a comparison to other car manufacturer success. Thanks

  • Sajah Khan

    Jeff, can you tell me when this campaign started on facebook and the snapshot you attached here clearly says 15,375 fans but I need to know how long it took them to generate 15,373 fans?

  • http://www.watches-works.com/ omega seamaster antimagnetic

    Great post! It would be interesting to see a comparison between the TV, print and outdoor advertising campaigns versus the social media campaign – not only looking at visibility,

  • http://www.facebook.com/slateandchalk.net Shakti Saran

    Hello Mr. Bullas, Thank You for sharing! I’ve shared your post on the Chief Marketing Officer – India http://www.facebook.com/cmoindia?sk=app_156218351098324 page. Best! Shakti Saran

  • Brenda

    All the pictures are missing from this web page.  It would be more effective if they were there.

  • http://www.webdesignxperts.com.au/blog/ Kristy Bernales

    I always like to read case studies ! not only I got motivation also some actionable take aways too. Also planning to post some webdesign UX ralated case study for my web design blog Thanks for sharing!!