Elaine Gantz Wright writes about optimizing social media, life, and spirit. Hire her: email@example.com.
Erik Qualman waxed rhapsodic about Ford’s strategic and systemic embrace of social media when he spoke at the Social Media Club of Dallas.
“The good companies,” Qualman surmised, “know a sound social media strategy is much more than having a Facebook page or setting up a Twitter account. The good companies know that social media has to be integrated into everything that they do – it’s a part of their overall strategy since it touches every facet of the business.” He went on to say in an interview on Clickz that ford changed not only the external perception of the brand—but the internal culture of the company. However, the Facebook numbers are hardly in low gear – 156,738 on Ford and 25, 416 anticipating the exclusive Facebook launch of the “new” Explorer.
Qualman praises Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, for driving the change, and I certainly agree—understanding from the top down is critical. Qualman says that car companies typically spend 10 percent of their marketing dollars on digital initiatives. Ford shifted its percentage to 25 percent digital. And its stock has increased from $1.5 to $11. This reallocation of funds appears to be a trend. A business I was visiting with this week said their national enterprise cut their $12 million print/television/radio budget to $1 million—and it’s now all digital!
Earlier this year, Jeff Bullas talked about Ford’s phenomenal social media savvy. Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford, said his “Jewel in the Crown” is the Ford Fiesta Movement that involved selecting 100 socially vibrant individuals who received the European version of the Ford Fiesta to drive for 18 months prior to its release in the USA. He truly harnessed and leveraged word of mouth. He “knighted” key influencers and empowered them to lead the Fiesta crusade. It’s all about raw, authentic, unedited (or routed for corporate approval) emotion and passion.
The Inside Job
Still, this is social media as promotion and marketing. Now, I’m wondering about those integrated, internal systems. It’s one thing to create a dialogue with your market—but quite another to configure internal business processes and/or culture around social media. I suspect this will evolve less rapidly. I have experienced the birthing pains in my own practice. At The LTV group, for instance, I was retained to build a social media ecosystem to help drive REO Expo attendance, but now that my “special assignment” is complete, I wonder how they will cultivate the landscape in terms of strategy and function moving forward. I certainly contend that any business needs more than one or two people off “doing social media” in the corner.
Operations become even more complicated in the car biz—something I have experienced firsthand. As a Ford customer, myself, I recently took my 4-year-old Escape to Park Cities Ford in Dallas when my check-engine light began to glow. Unfortunately, I had an extremely disappointing experience with the service department, so I decided to test the much-ballyhooed customer service power of Twitter—and tweeted my dismay. I also emailed the appropriate person at the dealership. I received a reply within 48 hours from the corporate customer service but nothing from the Park Cities folks. I was impressed with the timely, friendly corporate tweet. I provided the VIN number and explanation, as she requested. Meanwhile, I needed to repair my car, so I took it to Westway in Irving, and the difference was night and day. They exuded honesty and proposed only necessary repairs. I tweeted my glee, too.
When days went by, and I heard nothing, I followed up with Ford corporate. The original tweeter was on vacation, and they lost track of the string. Plus, I was told the corporate customer service folks can report the issue, but they have no control over the actions of the individually owned dealerships. Outcomes may vary.
Hmmm . . .isn’t that where the rubber meets the road, Ford?
I guess it’s one of those “process” issues that still needs to be ironed out to bring the social media loop—full circle. It’s complicated, indeed.
Now, I’m interested in how businesses of all shapes and sizes are weaving the threads of social media into their daily operations—internal and/or external. Or, should we say, the new “working inside out”?
What are you doing that’s working? What’s not? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk with you about it.