Scott Monty heads up social media efforts for Ford Motor Company, an effort he began in July. In that role, he’s responsible for internal and external adoption of social media strategy to help improve Ford’s overall reputation. I sat down with Scott last month to discuss his approach, before what could only be categorized as an extremely active period for Scott.
We spent an hour discussing audience, tools, tone, content mix and etiquette. During our conversation, I was impressed by Scott’s unwavering approach. His answers to the questions I asked almost always came back to the same point: getting Ford’s story – from innovation and safety to green technology and affordability – out to a larger audience. In the time that has since passed, I have watched in awe as Scott juggled events both planned and unplanned from any number of locations. Below I take a look at one week in the life of Scott Monty. From this, one can get a sense of how to begin thinking about social media in conjunction with a major brand.
Choose your medium
Many social networking outlets exist for brand managers today. Picking the right audience for your message is crucial to success. Scott is an active member of several networks – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – but it is Twitter that he employs most frequently. He does this for three reasons:
- The format fits the communication style he wants to project
- He has a large following on the service
- Because he sees an opportunity to use the service in ways that his competitors are not
Comfort in the medium was an important part of Scott’s decision. He knows the network’s ebb and flow, the style and can distinguish merely dominant voices from the truly influential. Learning these rules is easy. Join a community. At Ford, Scott gives this advice to his coworkers who represent the brand in the social media space.
Find your voice
Scott has established five Twitter accounts, which are in varying stages of development, from which he communicates on Ford’s behalf. There is his personal account, ScottMonty; FordDriveOne, the “master” corporate account for Ford’s marketing campaign; and FordMustang, FordTrucks and FordDriveGreen, topic-specific accounts that serve strategically important Ford initiatives.
Creating multiple accounts is not necessary, for example, Southwest Airlines has had success with a single corporate profile, but Ford is not alone among automakers with multiple profiles. GM has three, GMblogs, an extension of its popular FastLane Blog; cbarger, the profile for Christoper Barger, Director of Global Communications Technology; and AdamDenison, the profile for Adam Denison, Assistant Manager, Chevrolet Product Communications.
However, Scott has created multiple accounts to allow him to easily distribute his workload amongst several individuals. Eventually a mix of brand, marketing and communications managers will speak on Ford’s behalf through these and other accounts that Scott may create.
A Scott Monty tweet about the multiple-account Twitter strategy he has created for Ford.
Scott has also set a standard for how Ford social media accounts are created. To enable others to immediately identify each account with Ford, he has developed a consistent naming convention, with each account beginning with Ford. The account’s “home page” clearly identifies its speaker, further tying an identity to the brand.
Let others spread your message
Scott squeezed my meeting in before flying to Los Angeles for the annual L.A. Auto Show. The big event was the 2010 Mustang reveal, and Scott planned to post live, as the reveal took place. But more importantly, Scott was engaging others on his behalf. Bloggers who responded directly to a post on Twitter were being provided with access to a blogger room, free Wi-Fi and, most significantly, the same access to media kits and sources as more traditional journalists. This type of good citizenry goes a long way toward establishing trust and respect with a critical part of the online community.
Be active and aware
Scott spends a large amount of his time, more than 70 percent, responding to others. Actionable data, timely bits that raise awareness of issues to be addressed, are critical. Presently, Google Alerts and Twitter Search give Scott the “actionable data” to which he responds.
The weekend before I met with Scott, Johnson & Johnson encountered a social media kerfuffle as a result of a Motrin ad. While the details are not relevant here, one of the primary topics of conversation in the blogosphere was J & J’s slow response. When the company did respond, an apology was issued and the ad was pulled. In many people’s opinion, a broader opportunity to get Motrin’s message out was missed.
The incident highlights a number of important issues for those who employ social media in support of a brand. First, social media is a conversation, and as with any conversation, listening is as important as talking. Second, social media is continuous. While real-time tracking and response may not always be necessary, near real-time response, i.e. same day, is critical to swaying opinions and preventing situations from escalating. Lastly, any “problem or controversy” is also an opportunity for a brand to get its message out. To illustrate, let’s take another example from Scott’s week.
On Sunday, November 22, Robert Scoble posted Why I love the US auto industry, which suggested many strategies for innovation and image improvement across American auto manufacturers. Scott responded to Robert’s points within hours of the blog post. A conversation between countless thousands emerged in several places on the web. Here are a few snatches of that conversation:
Robert Scoble Says:
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:31 pm
… I think it is VERY cool that you took time out on a Saturday to
answer my blog, by the way. That demonstrates you are listening to
the marketplace conversation in a new way.
dsilverman: @Scobleizer and it’s also interesting that @scottmonty
started following me right after i tweeted you about his comment. v.cool.
ScottMonty: I’m in the supermarket, debating @timoreilly on Twitter. Bizarre.
randyholloway: Like the debate between @ScottMonty of Ford
and @timoreilly. My gut says that Tim has it right.
snowdeal: watching @ScottMonty, head of social media at ford, and @timoreilly
debate on twitter. fascinating on several levels. http://bit.ly/6YkY
I had asked Scott how he prepares and responds to critical statements from highly individual influential people such as Robert Scoble, who has more than 43,000 followers on Twitter.
Me: “You recently lent Robert Scoble a Ford Flex with Microsoft Sync. We know that Robert has a huge following, is influential and blunt, and that amongst his followers are many who are predisposed to dislike anything Microsoft. Later, he ended up telling you Ford Flex was the ‘wrong car for the future.’”
Scott: “All we wanted to do was put the technology in [Robert] Scoble’s hands so he could check it out. We were less interested in his opinions of vehicles as much as we were about his perspective on the technology. Anytime you do that with a blogger, all you can do is provide them with information. Ultimately they’re going to make up their own mind and bring their own opinion to the matter and you just have to be prepared for it. It’s an opportunity to educate.”
Later in that conversation, Scott discussed his mission relative to Ford. “Ford’s goal is to create affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles. My job is to get that message out to customers and potential customers. I seek as many opportunities as possible to get that message out. I’m humanizing the brand.”
As the voice of Ford on Twitter, Scott takes a direct approach. He replies tactfully to tweets that he believes contain misinformation about Ford as well as retweets messages that cast the brand in a more favorable light.
Scott has already amassed a lengthy collection of favorite tweets resulting from his efforts. More impressively, earlier this week he was credited with single-handledly averting a PR disaster for Ford. Scott’s success is proof that not only does an effective social media program allow marketers to connect with consumers, it can also serve as an early-warning system for brand or product issues.
- Why I love Twitter; O’Reilly Radar, 11.29.08
- ScottMonty Twitter profile
- FordDriveOne Twitter profile
- FordMustang Twitter profile
- FordTrucks Twitter profile
- FordDriveGreen Twitter profile
- zappos Twitter profile
- SouthwestAir Twitter profile
- Zappos & Southwest get direct engagement; Logic+Emotion, 4.12.08
- GMblogs Twitter profile
- GM FastLane Blog
- cbarger Twitter profile
- AdamDenison Twitter profile
- Leaping Forward: The 2010 Mustang Premieres; Ford Motor Company Global Auto Shows, 11.19.08
- TweetStats for ScottMonty
- Google Alerts
- Twitter Search
- Motrin ad a pain for Johnson & Johnson; UPI.com, 11.19.08
- Why I love the US auto industry; Scobleizer, 11.22.08
- Scott Monty’s Favorites; Twitter
- PR disaster: Ford suing the only people who still care about Ford cars; Voltage Blog, 12.10.08