Ford’s Social Media Success with Fiesta Launch

Here’s an interesting interview I read in Larry Chase’s newsletter. It really underscores the power of social media when it’s used correctly. Below are excerpts from the interview.

Using Social Media to Pre-Launch a Car in the US

Larry Chase: I saw a statistic about the upcoming US launch of the Ford Fiesta. It said there’s already 37% awareness among those in Generation Y, even though you haven’t spent any money promoting it via paid media. How are you getting that kind of awareness without any media spend?

Scott Monty: The current number is 38% awareness of a vehicle that is not in the market, which is equivalent to the awareness level of vehicles that we have had in the market for two to three years.

Our 100 “agents” out there have produced over 700 videos total. [Note: “Agents” are the 100 people, called “Agents of the Fiesta Movement,” whom Ford chose to drive a Fiesta and to blog about their experiences and create online videos.]

We’ve had over 4.8 million views of the agents’ YouTube videos, over 600,000 views of their Flickr photos and over 3.2 million impressions on Twitter.

LC: How did you get the word out? Did you give these cars away?

SM: They were lent to people for six months. We did a grassroots effort where we used connections we had and connections our agency had and basically got the word out online.

We got over 4,000 applicants for those 100 slots. We narrowed it down, using a number of factors to determine whom we actually selected.

LC: What were your criteria for choosing them?

SM: We looked first and foremost at their ability to create a monthly online video, because that would be a requirement of every agent.

We looked at their “social vibrancy:” how connected they were across a number of social networks and how many connections they had within those social networks. We also looked at the geography of each person.

In reality, this is not just an online campaign. These people are out driving on the street. We needed to think about where they actually were around the country so that we had a pretty good spread out of home as well as online.

LC: How do people find out about these first-person videos about the Fiesta in the United States?

SM: We have aggregated them on FiestaMovement.com. As you can imagine, each of these agents has a significant social network. They all know people who know people who know people. It’s a matter of word of mouth just working its way around.

Cumulative Effect of Paid Media, Earned Media and Owned Media

LC: Tell us about the cross-pollination of Ford’s digital media spend and how the social component is folded into that.

SM: We look at the social component through three forms of media: Paid media, earned media (blog posts, news items and whatnot) and our owned media, material that we produce on a regular basis.

If we can get the three of those interplaying together, it’s going to have a much more powerful effect than relying on social as a grassroots, bottom-up kind of approach and relying on PR and paid ads doing their own thing.

Measuring the Social Media Investment

LC: How is Ford measuring its social media? Are they asking, “Are we getting a proper bang for the buck based on the amount of money we’re paying Scott Monty and his staff and the time and attention of our employees worldwide? Are we getting more out of it than we’re putting in?”

SM: I was the only social media staffer here for a year, so the notion of a global manufacturer having this huge effort is not necessarily the case.

Yes, we’ve had agencies support us, but ultimately, 90% of social media is just showing up, to borrow a phrase from Woody Allen.

A lot of the credit we’re getting for social media is because we (Ford) are showing up. We’re present.

Our social media activities are really geared more around awareness and changing perception and the broad end of the sales funnel rather than the narrow end. It’s not that we put out a Tweet and we sell a car although we have had instances of it.

Humanizing Ford

LC: Somebody bought a car because of Twitter?

SM: In one Twitter conversation, one person says, “I only bought a Ford because of Twitter.” And then he goes on to say, “I bought the Ford because my interest was piqued because of Twitter, and a relationship was created, and they make a great Escape.” And then he responds to someone, “… They built a relationship with me, and I trust Ford.”

Ultimately, we want to break through that barrier of trust. If you look at the Edelman Trust Barometer, it shows that 77% of people trust corporations less in 2009 than in 2008.

Whom do they trust? They trust third-party experts such as Consumer Reports and The New York Times, and they trust people like themselves.

This whole notion of humanizing Ford is to show consumers that there are people just like them at Ford who are intelligent, talented and passionate about the company for a very good reason.

Resource List

Follow Scott Monty on Twitter: @ScottMonty.

Read his personal blog, The Social Media Marketing Blog.

Are companies embracing digital PR with new job titles?

Last year when he published “Sticks and Stones” Larry Weber wrote that companies would need to hire new types of people, in new types of jobs, to fully leverage and embrace social media.

Here’s an interesting interview from Larry Chase’s newsletter with Chris Nadherny, Mr. Nadherny is a senior director of the executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart, where he is a partner and has led the Digital and Direct Marketing practice since 1997. It gives an idea of how this concept is playing out in real life.

You can read the full interview here. I’ve pulled out some highlights.

Recent Placements in Top Marketing Jobs

Larry Chase: You recruit for Fortune 500 companies. What kind of placements have you made recently?

Chris Nadherny: We worked closely with JCPenney to identify, assess and recruit a head of Digital Marketing. It’s a part of the ecommerce program but specifically responsible for all search engine optimization, search engine marketing, mobile, affiliate, banners and the like.

The candidate we placed had been with [multichannel retailer] Coldwater Creek in its ecommerce business. She was responsible for all Digital Marketing, segmentation, positioning and various digital channels.

LC: Do you see a lot of people with a traditional Direct Marketing background making a smooth transition to Digital Marketing?

CN: The catalog companies were some of the first people to grab onto the Internet and Digital Marketing.

As the funding that’s going into Digital Marketing has increased, the Digital Marketing role has become prominent across the organization. We have seen a move to upgrade the talent as a result.

At one time, a company might have started with someone who was an Internet Marketing specialist. As the business has grown and succeeded, they’re finding at the next stage that they need someone who brings more maturity in management leadership and financial acumen.

Are Internet Marketers Too Specialized to be CMO?

LC: We at Web Digest For Marketers also look at specific disciplines such as SEO and Social Media. Do you find a lot of people come up the chain through those disciplines?

CN: Yes, but the danger of someone being in a specialist role and focusing solely on mobile, social or SEO is that he/she has a view of part of the equation but not the entire equation. We recruit at the more senior level, and our clients are looking for people who can lead and manage the entire equation.

We also placed the head of global online services for Hilton Hotels in a role that is responsible for all the Websites, content, marketing on the sites, analytics, creative and so on. The client wanted someone from the travel and hospitality industry, and we came across some good people but not with experience as broad as our client wanted.

We convinced them to look at an individual who had been with Chrysler and was directly responsible for its Digital Marketing strategy, Websites, search, analytics, lead generation for Chrysler and had previously been with (the agency) Organic.

What convinced this client at Hilton to look at someone from automotive was the parallel between providing services to dealers across the country and providing hotel services across the country. In the end, the client did choose the person from Chrysler.

Demand for Talent Outstrips Supply

LC: Do your clients prefer to hire within their categories, or do they want someone from outside their business?

CN: Generally, they prefer to hire from within their category, but it’s really on a case-by-case basis. Although 1998 was really the first “e-Christmas,” we still have not had enough time to fill the talent void.

LC: So, the supply has not really caught up with the demand. Will it?

CN: It will take a while. Things continue to develop at a rapid pace. A lot of our clients feel that as soon as you get your head above water, and you think you understand what’s going on, something else happens that you need to test and develop.

Can You Get to the Top with Only Digital Marketing Experience?

LC: Are there people at the top of Fortune 500 or major marketing companies who have spent their entire careers only on the digital side, or do they have traditional experience?

CN: Digital-only experience is less common because in those roles, you also have multiple marketing-channel environments.

Someone who understands just digital is often viewed as too narrow in perspective. If they have always been in digital and are younger, then they have probably been in more entrepreneurial organizations and didn’t always gain management training and discipline along the way.

For someone who’s coming up directly through Digital Marketing right now, it’s very easy to be passionate about the space, and there are a lot of reasons to want to be there. But, at some point, they’re going to run the risk of being compartmentalized or curtailing their advancement because they haven’t broadened their skill sets

LC: Will those at the CMO level be mostly traditional people with an innate understanding of digital or the other way around?

CN: I can only go by my experience, but here are another couple of casepoints:

We recruited the president of direct at [women’s clothing retailer] Charming Shoppes for all their ecommerce. He had come from Sears, where he was responsible for the Website, ecommerce and the catalog. Before that, he was in management positions with Forrester [Research] so he had gained management leadership all the way.

LC: So, you really need a balance.

CN: Another great example, and a rare profile, is the person who was heading up Digital Marketing and ecommerce for QVC. Before that, he had spent a number of years with JCPenney in the stores environment, where he had hands-on retail experience, worked on the catalog and then migrated to Internet merchandising and marketing.

Moving to a pure [Web environment] and leading that effort makes him very unique, having tried-and-true tri-channel experience.

LC: Which attribute is hardest to find?

CN: A progressive career track within a limited number of companies. In other words, some career stability and not a series of job hops. We always like to see someone promoted within a current employer and not always having to switch companies for the next title. We also look for business and management maturity.

Skill Sets You Need for the Big Leagues

LC: How does company size affect what you look for in a candidate?

CN: It depends on the size of the company. The types of skill sets and qualities or traits you seek in candidates for a company that does less than $50 million a year in ecommerce are very different from those for a company doing more than $1 billion.

For a smaller company, you’re looking for someone with more hands-on experience and an entrepreneurial outlook, with a distinct building mentality, an ability to influence resources within a matrix environment, and a certain resourcefulness and ability to impart a sense of excitement throughout the organization.

Contrast that with a larger ecommerce effort, where you’re looking more for broad-based business leadership and top-level credibility with the senior executive team. It takes a greater level of complexity in scope and scale. You’re also looking at more international experience and exposure and increased financial acumen.

Using Twitter effectively

Everyone talks about Twitter . . . but how do you turn from one more background noise to a tool that reaps results?

Here’s a great round up of companies that are using Twitter effectively.

If you haven’t already discovered this newsletter, Larry Chase’s Web Digest for Marketers, you should sign up as Larry Chase always has something interesting!

Best Twitter Feeds for Sales Lead Generation

You see a lot of “how-to” articles on ways to use Twitter for marketing. But, what is missing is a list of the best examples showing how Twitter actually is used to sell products and services.

From such a list, you can learn best practices to employ for your own Twitter feed.

Sr. Editor Janet Roberts reviewed over 500 feeds and came up with this list of finalists, written in Twitter style (more or less). First up are the B2C examples, followed by the B2B examples.

Handmark

This mobile-app developer (78,000 followers) uses prolific and quirky tweets to announce and promote product launches and provide some customer support.

Denny’s (Dennys Allnightr)

Restaurant chain’s Allnightr feed caters to late-night dining with evening meal deals timed to launch when the munchies strike, plus regular menu promos.

Visit Chicago

Tourism bureau tweets a wide range of area attractions and events, especially the offbeat, plus tips and ticket deals for discovering Chicagoland.

Dell Outlet

With 1.6 million followers and $3 million in annual sales, Dell’s Twitter outlet is doing something right. It’s the model to follow for content and frequency.

Groupon

The original limited-inventory, fast-expiry group coupon retailer now has a Twitter feed for each city it covers (70+, sampling Vegas here), each one tweeting a daily coupon special.

Wilton Cakes

Bakeware/cake-decorating manufacturer tweets daily product deals, tips, two-fers and trouble-shooting. Also cross-promotes to its Facebook fan page.

Synchronicity Theatre

Broadway, take note: Small but active Atlanta theatre group tweets last-minute deals to put fannies in seats, get noticed, raise funds and build its community profile.

Bloomingdale’s

High-end retailer tweets price-driven daily deals, celebrity visits, store events and fashion news/advice in a zippy, shopper-friendly tone.

Walmart

Daily Tweets get sorted into “departments” (HBA, mp3 downloads, electronics, limited-time or “while supplies last” deals, etc.) but support mainly Web shopping, not printable coupons.

Travelzoo

Cruises for under $50/day, half off at hip NYC boutique hotel, NYC to London for under $100/day. Travelzoo tweets hot deals like these plus travel advisories, tips and quips.