Posts Tagged 'marketing'

Ford Motor company’s engagement through Twitter

During the BlogPotomac conference in June, the head of social media for the Ford Motor Company, Scott Monty, shared some social media best practices that I would like to pass along to you…

Scott used Twitter to announce his steps during the process of responding to a crisis, tweeting things like, “I’m checking with legal right now”… etc. so people didn’t think he was just saying “no comment” and getting upset, thinking he wasn’t doing anything.

Tweeting should be your first response during public relations crisis management – It is the “low-hanging fruit” — immediate and widespread. But it only helps once you’ve already built up a community.

Monitor and respond to social media mentions of your organization where appropriate. When you have people complaining against your organization, invite them into the process to better understand then help address their issues, if it’s not terribly detrimental.

Sometimes a key to crisis management is actually calling someone to talk (gasp!). He combined online (twitter/blogs/forums) methods with offline (personal phone calls) to combat a crisis where one of Ford’s big supporters felt mistreated and was letting people on his website know how upset he was at the company.

Companies need to have their own “digital hub” – an anchor where they can post updates/comments/videos/etc. in addition to the typical sites (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.).

There are only so many social media sites you can realistically get to. You need to decide where your customers are and stay actively engaged in those limited digital outposts. You can’t be authentic with customers if you just do “fly-bys” on the sites.

But on the other hand, organizations need to pay more attention to the people around them and less to Twitter. Don’t neglect your internal employees – they are the key audience invested in your organization’s future.

  • Ford has 200,000 employees worldwide, so Scott postulated that if he could get just 1% willing to talk about Ford on line, that would be 2,000 people on these digital outposts (e.g., Facebook/Twitter).

The tools are irrelevant – they will always change. By giving employees broad guidelines on social media, we’re creating a culture of people who can speak on behalf of the company.

Some of these basic guidelines include:

  • Tell the truth
  • Write with accuracy
  • Include all points of view
  • Never delete people’s comments

The goal is to humanize Ford as a brand. There’s nothing personal or inspirational about the “blue oval.” Scott wants to put faces to the brand and connect employees with the public.

Social media is just part of the mix. It’s not a panacea. Ford still communicates with customers through surveys/phone calls/mailers/etc. The company realizes it has millions of customers and they don’t all communicate in the same way.

Not every comment/post requires a response. Many times people write something factually incorrect that is derogatory toward Ford. Scott said he wanted to jump in and respond, but then chose to stand back. What happened? Someone from the community would often correct the record for him, since the company had built up a big fan base.

When you do need to respond, match the tools used against you. If someone is putting you down in a video, respond with a video. In a blog post, respond with a comment. But that’s just the starting point.

Scott asked, “Does your ‘C suite’ vet your phone calls or your emails? If not, why do they insist on vetting your blogs, tweets, etc.?”

He related social media to when the telephone first came out and then later when email came out where there was all kinds of corporate guidance about not saying certain things. The technology doesn’t matter. This is about culture change.

Social media is not going away. It’s going to be more and more integrated into our daily lives.

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