When it comes to using social media tools the right way, Ford Motor Company has Mr. Scott Monty, head of social media for the automaker, to thank! Monty (the actual living, breathing, tweeting person behind the brand’s social media outlets) embodies best practices by adhering to simple, yet important “rules of the road” i.e. authenticity, transparency and relevancy.
Authenticity. Monty’s blog, “The Social Media Marketing Blog” and Twitter page clearly identify and disclose the person doing the virtual talking. Monty’s combination of sincerity, humor and professionalism provide readers with a human touch that is often times hard to find without face to face interaction.
Transparency. Authenticity’s kissing cousin, Transparency, is evident by Monty’s open reference to Ford’s culture, business model and leadership. He shares the company’s insights, responses and priorities in a very open forum on a regular basis.
Relevancy. Monty does not waste reader’s time by posting fluff and insignificant details. Rather, his posts are timely, appropriate and applicable to the brand, the culture of American automakers and other issues that directly affect key stakeholders.
Because Monty (and therefore Ford) is able to build relationships with key audiences, we find it easy to believe him when he writes: “We [Ford] believe that social media is an ongoing way of doing business rather than a marketing effort or ploy – it’s not about one-way messaging or advertising. To us, social media is not a campaign, it’s a commitment. And we’re committed to listening.”
However, not all brands exhibit Ford’s fervor and/or understanding of social media. In 2008, Motrin found itself in hot water due to a lack of awareness and understanding of social media tools. After the pain reliever posted a flippant, tongue and cheek online advertisement targeting baby-wearing moms, the brand sparked outrage among this rather vocal target audience. Within hours, mommy bloggers around the country raced to their computers and employed the power of social media. Blogs, Twitter posts and YouTube videos appeared in record time and reprimanded the brand for its callous ad. Because Motrin was unaware of the tools in which mommy bloggers were utilizing, the brand was unable to properly respond. More importantly, this crisis could have been averted altogether, had the brand properly used social media tools to research, monitor and build relationships with this key demographic in the first place.
Lesson’s learned? Mom’s advice is actually relevant to social media tools – be yourself, never tell a lie and always do your homework. If not, you could find yourself crying over spilt milk.