Social media marketing may seem like it’s still all shiny and new, but concepts, ideas, and what’s cool move through the proverbial Internet universe at warp speed. What was the darling of today or last week can be forgotten in a very small amount of time.
That’s not to say we, as marketers, shouldn’t be learning from our social media marketing campaigns. Social media has a tendency to be fleeting because of its unique ability to serve up information that an audience wants quicker than a search engine spider can get out and crawl the information and apply an algorithm to it. With that in mind, it’s even more important that you research, plan, measure, and adjust to become more successful with each social media marketing tactic you deploy as part of your overall strategy.
There are few companies that stand out in my mind as marketing behemoth’s who understand that social media is a continual learning process like Ford does. Ford is constantly taking what they’ve done in past campaigns, applying the successes, tweaking its efforts, and tossing out what doesn’t work. The company isn’t married to one medium or relying on just one channel. If it did, its efforts wouldn’t reach the masses as the Ford Explorer campaign has.
For a few years now, Scott Monty has headed up the social media marketing efforts at Ford with resounding success. Monty and his team do more than just “pimp” Ford’s products in social media communities; they continually provide valuable content about Ford to engage enthusiastic fans of the brand.
Any company, big or small, can learn from Ford, especially with its latest reveal of the 2011 Ford Explorer on Facebook. Here are just five reasons why Monty and his team continue to shine in the social media arena:
- They understand their audience: Every car that Ford produces appeals to a different segment, audience, ethnographic, and demographic. No two campaigns that Ford has launched for a specific vehicle has been the same; each campaign appeals to the audience it’s targeted for. The team seems to understand that while people might love “Ford,” they love the car that they drive even more. Ford strives to understand that and engage people on the car level.
- They learn from past campaigns: The most notable of Ford’s recent campaigns is the Ford Fiesta Movement where Monty’s team worked with 100 social media evangelists to promote the newly reintroduced Ford Fiesta. The goals were set, measured, and reached, each at different rates of success. While video views weren’t “viral” in numbers, one number stands out above the rest: 50,000 interested potential customers, 97 percent of which didn’t currently own a Ford.
Learning from their Fiesta campaign, the team has taken the new Ford Explorer campaign to a whole new level. From Facebook and Twitter to Flickr and YouTube, Monty’s team is engaging the fans of the old Explorer where they are most active.
- They set goals and measure: While we don’t know what metrics and goals the campaign has privately set in place, there’s at least one metric that was publicly announced for the Ford Explorer campaign: 30,000 fans before the reveal on Monday, July 26, 2010. They reached that metric and one lucky fan will be having a new Ford Explorer sitting in their driveway in a few months.
By setting goals and metrics, Monty’s team consistently knows where to invest more time and resources to engage potential car buyers. They also know when to tweak and possibly end efforts in certain channels. If they didn’t, they couldn’t point to Ford’s Q2 net income of $2.6 billion as proof that the company is on the right track.
- They integrate: For Monty and his team, it isn’t just about Facebook and how many fans Ford acquires, it’s about engaging potential car buyers on all levels – that’s why they integrate on so many levels. Their PPC and paid media buys on sites like CNN and Yahoo work hand-in-hand with their YouTube videos, Flickr photos, and Facebook fan page. E-mail campaigns are integrated to appeal and engage as well.
The content that Ford’s marketing team is presenting to the audience isn’t just a commercial on YouTube, it’s storytelling that captures and touches the viewer. They integrate their website in with their videos and photos, they encourage engagement, not just on Twitter but on Facebook and blogs. Monty’s team truly understands that social media doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
- They always look forward: If forgoing the typical auto show reveal for a newly redesigned, well-loved car on Facebook isn’t looking forward, I can’t really point to much else. Realizing that the future of marketing is getting people to engage, talk, and share their experiences is something that Ford has put to good use.
Sure, the press junket is going to miss out on the snazzy lights-and-cameras show at the yearly auto show, but Ford is looking to its future and realizing that it’s a person’s experiences with its brand and its cars that continue to sell the vehicles.