MS Vodcast Episode#25 | Scott Monty, Global Digital and Multimedia Communications Manager, Ford Motor Company


An old brand embracing the new

Our third in a new series of video podcasts (vodcasts) focussing on those interesting folks who manage social media for their brand / company / organisation.

Scott Monty, Global Digital and Multimedia Communications Manager, Ford Motor Company.

0.00—0.21 intro
0.22—2.26 day-to-day activities
2.27—6.44 measuring success
6.45—9.06 CEO/executive buy-in
9.07—11.00 the humanisation of the brand (personalised video invites)
11.01—12.02 internal vs external measurement / creation
12.03—14.57 the fiesta movement campaign
14.58—17.56 internal use of social media
17.57—20.52 no blog but The Ford Story
20.53—23.02 the mistakes to learn from
23.03—25.15 one piece of advice for newbies (search on Twitter)
25.16—27.31 the future
27.32—27.51 outro

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Scott Monty: Hi. I’m Scott Monty, I’m the head of Social media for Ford Motor Company and I’m speaking to you today from Fords world headquarters today here in Dearborn Michigan.

DK: Brilliant. Well thanks for giving up your time Scott, I really appreciate it. So let’s get right into this and tell me, what do you do day to day?

Scott Monty: You know it might be more easily asked what don’t I do day to day. You know social media takes on so much of what goes on in a company. I mean there’s — I’m positioned within corporate communications okay, and there’s a lot of work that my team does with regard to helping to amplify the news that we’re putting out on any given day or week. But we also need to coordinate very closely with marketing because there’s overarching campaigns that are happening, maybe big vehicle reveals or launches. And we have come to the understanding that we absolutely need to be integrated in our role. It’s just enough to be lined up as far as timing, but the more we can actually have our programs and our efforts intertwined, the better we’re going to do.

So I spend a lot of time as you can imagine in meetings with agency personnel, with other teams. I kind of forged default online spokesperson if you will. And that involves in talking with dealers, with customers, with potential customers all in the effort to help improve Ford’s reputation and to build, help built product or purchase consideration. Okay. What that means in the end is I see a lot that’s going on out there, concerns and kudos and you name it. And part of my role is to be a connector within Ford Motor company. I’m kind of a lightening rod on the outside but taking what I can gather and then feeding it back into the system for customer service, for our legal department, for product development, you know there are innumerous ways that what’s being said about Ford on the outside translates on the inside.

DK: Wow, so that’s a lot like you say. Now I know you’ve been there for two and a half years coming up to now in that specific role. In that time obviously you’ve probably seen a lot of change and shifts maybe internally annexed in terms of social media. How do you guys when you first started and maybe now as well measure success in regards to social media?

Scott Monty: Well it’s a good question. I think it’s a question that needs to be asked because social media as you say has kind of just blown into town and has completely transformed the way we’re thinking about marketing and communications. But in some respects, the measurement systems haven’t kept pace. And I think it’s partly because we’re used to doing it a certain way and we got comfortable with looking at click-thru’s and hits. And I don’t know if you know Katie Payne who’s kind of a measurement specialist in the PR world and now in Social media over here in the states. She says hits is actually an acronym. H.I.T.S and it stands for how idiots track success. It’s not that it’s, that’s it’s not useful anymore. It’s just not the sole measurement to hang your hat on. So when we look at measurement for social media, certainly we want to be looking at the discreet campaigns or programs that we’re doing. You know like take something like the Explorer Reveal on Facebook in eight cities last year. Okay, that was a concrete, contained project. And we could measure the beginning, the middle and the end. We knew where we started, we knew where we ended up and then we tracked everything in between. So that was something that was containable. So we always do that with any discreet programs that we have. Where it gets to be a challenge is where you’re just measuring what’s being said about you out there in general. And the web is full of information, too much so when it comes to, and I’ll speak specifically to Ford. Lots of conversations going on about there about ford. Are they all relevant? You know probably not. And that’s why our measurement systems have to start evolving so that we’re measuring the right conversations, the conversations that have impact. And what I mean by that is a mention is one thing. you know a hit, a click thru, a mention, that’s one thing. but the degree to which we can measure how and idea or how a conversation or how a piece of content is spread across the web. Who shares it, when and with how many people? So we can in some ways intuit the true reach that we’re getting from this and what we’re able to see the level of engagement and I’ll use Facebook as a proxy for that. a level of engagement on our Facebook page. All right. Okay, so we posted a piece of content and we have a half a million fans. Well, what does that mean, right? But, when we see that 200,000 of those fans saw the piece and 10% of them left a comment or liked it that gives us something a little more directional. Okay. Facebook has a really good, well I shouldn’t say very good. Facebook has a system whereby page administrators can see the metrics of their page. They call it incites. And it’s a bit limited in just the data that you’re given. But you can extra populate from some of that. for example, they’ll tell you the average number of monthly users that you have on your page. Now if you take that as a percentage of the number of fans that you have over that same period, that gives you a percentage of how many of your fans are actually engaged and how many times they’re making comments. And we’ve got some pages were we have more monthly users than we have fans. Which tells us our fans are engaging more than once in any given time period. Okay, so we’re getting people that are engaging with the content over and over.

DK: Interesting. And I know you’ve got in a sense Chief Executive buy in there because I spoke to you just before we started this interview about I used one of your methods of getting — I’m going to use the CEO of Ford involved in answering questions to your twitter stream. Now that has probably got to be key. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how Allan, Chief Executive of Ford feels about social media and the buy in that he’s given you?

Scott Monty: Well I think Allan and our whole executive team really, they, they don’t understand all of the nuances and details of social media. And that’s not important that they do quite frankly. They understand that fundamentally it’s important, that this is how people are engaging online, that it’s trackable and measurable, and that we can actually play a role in it. There’s two elements of this. One is that it’s a great opportunity for us to share content in simple ways that are non traditional, that’s easy for people to track and to take part in. and it’s an opportunity for us to have a two way dialogue with customers. And not only are the customers already excited about the ford products that we’re putting out, that the top of the line fuel economy, amazing technology, highest quality, all of that. but now they’re also excited about the way we’re talking about our products or the way we’re talking with them. You know, I think consumers, just everybody in general has at least one fundamental desire and that is to be heard, to be acknowledged. Okay. And if you can say something online and a big global company reaches out to you and acknowledges your position, whether or not they solve a problem or instantly have answered everything. The fact that they’ve acknowledged you and that they heard you is a huge step in the right direction. Allan is a big fan of saying, “If you want to be successful, first we need to seek to understand others, then we need to seek to be understood.” And I think that plays directly into social media.

DK: I think and I use you as an illustration when I’m speaking about Ford, humanizing themselves as a brand, you know you and Allen getting out there as individuals, not just the brand name and talking to people. And I know you’re starting to do that in quite a creative way. Tell us a little bit of why — where did the idea come from about personalized video invite to invite literally individuals to try your cars out?

Scott Monty: Well we feel that video is an incredibly powerful tool for the industry we’re in. and we’re in a very visual industry. People like to see the vehicles, they like to see things up close. And video is probably one of the best mediums out there that allows people to have face to face contact without necessarily being in the same room together. I mean, you and I are finally connected after many months of attempting and it’s face to face. And it really, and that’s a lot different than even if we were to do an audio call, right. So we thought that if we’re doing an event and we want to invite some influencers to it, yeah, we could send them a press release or we could send them an email. But everybody does that. so what we did was we created personalized videos directed to them specifically and inviting them to share it with their viewers or their readers as well so that it would increase the odds because it was cool and it was directed to them that they would actually post and want to share it with everybody they knew. In addition having the invitation come from a real person, whether it’s our Chief Marketing Officer or me, or one of our engineers. It meant a heck of a lot to those people to have somebody at ford taking the time to understand who they were, to target that message and to reach out to them personally.

DK: Very powerful. And just to give us an insight, do you — when we were talking about measurement earlier on and creating these videos, is that all done internally or do you have external agencies to help you out with that?

Scott Monty: It’s a combination as much of our team is. We’ve got a few agencies that we work with that are extended members of our team. You know we don’t really necessarily think of it as an employee/client relationship. It’s just the team. Okay. So we’ve got advice coming in from our agency partners on measurement systems. We actually have an in-house system that we use that we use across all of communications. So there’s kind of this need to standardize what we’re measuring in social media so that it meets the standard that the rest of the communication department uses. So that we’re not an outlier. I mean, we are different but we need to actually conform so we can understand how our efforts are being — are impacting people out there.

DK: Okay. Cool. And tell us a little bit which follows on from the personalized video invitations, you released a little campaign around the Fiesta movement recently where you tried to target 100 influencers online and tried to invite them again to participate in some test drives and stuff like that. tell us a little bit about the thinking behind that.

Scott Monty: Well Fiesta Movement which we did in 2009 is following the hallmark of our social media activities. And it’s really part social media, part experiential. We realized that the — you know all the ways they were using to communicate twitter, Facebook, blogs, video, etc; everything on the social web was really important and that that we wanted real consumers views of our vehicle, not just us talking about it. So giving 100 vehicles to 100 influencers here in the united States about a year before the vehicle was actually available because we had already launched it in Europe, you see. And this is a vehicle that was going to be extensively the same across the globe. So we gave them kind of a sneak preview of what was coming to America and gave it only to them. And we said, “Just do what your normally do.” Now, we required a video to be produced by them for us once a month for six months. Other than that, they were on their own. And we created a site where we aggregated all of their content live, uncensored, unedited so really people could see what people just like them were saying about fords products. Now they were saying great things, they were having fun, and it showed that ford was confident enough in our product to be able to release it in this way. So it created a real, a movement. I mean, it was the Fiesta Movement and things really took off from there. Now with the Focus which is our next global car, we don’t have the luxury of this release cadence where it’s you know Europe and then America and then Asia. It’s being released simultaneously around the globe. So this time around, with those video invitations that you mentioned, we invited a number of influencers as well as the public to apply for a spot to test drive the Ford Focus before anyone else on a test track in Spain. Okay. limited to about 100 people and there’s some media that are involved. But this is a first of a kind opportunity for consumers and some of our influencers to join us and do this before any other consumers have an opportunity to.

DK: Wicked man. So tell us a little bit as well about the internal. I don’t know if you use social media internally as well as externally. Because a lot of the things your site in there is very much about getting out into the marketplace. So what about any internal use of social guys? You guys use collaborate platforms and stuff like that.

Scott Monty: Yeah, I mean, the companies been doing some form of social sharing internally for a while. And if you’ve spent any time behind an enterprise system, you know it can be a little clunky. It’s not quite as fast moving and evolving as the outside world because of a variety of issues; security, you know just assessment of systems, installation, you know lots of reasons. But our IT team in particular has been probably the most forward thinking on this. A couple of years ago, they started up a knowledge base called Fordapedia. And basically it’s a giant Wiki for people to share what they know within ford so that people aren’t walking away from their jobs with the knowledge in their head or locked away on a hard drive somewhere. Okay. We also used an internal site for idea generation. Kind of like a My Starbucks idea or a Dell idea Storm internally where employees could contribute ideas for products, for marketing methods, for I don’t know maybe even better food in the cafeteria. Whatever — it was there as a repository for that kind of activity. In addition we have a really good intra on that site called atfordonline where it’s a news and information center and every single article or post that’s up there has the ability to be commented on, kind of blog like. So we encourage employees to do that. We all use SharePoint and SharePoint itself comes with a Wiki and blog platform baked in. and I can tell you our Chief General Council himself writes a blog and he encourages the legal staff not to email him about what they’ve read but to comment directly on his blog so it’s this instillation of behaviors that we’re seeing over time. And finally the last thing I’d add is that in addition to SharePoint, and we are moving to SharePoint 2010 very soon which is a, more like a Facebook type approach of SharePoint, it’s very exciting. We’ve using since late 2008 I think, we’ve been using Yammer which is like twitter for the enterprise. We probably got I don’t know six, seven thousand people on Yammer. We’ve never actively promoted it or done a campaign, it’s just been all grassroots. And people have found it extremely useful.

DK: Great. And then you touched on internal blogs a few times there. And one of the things I found very interesting with Ford when I’m digging and seeing what you guys are up to is that you don’t really have a public face in blog. Kind of — you’ve got a lot of social spaces and you’re in them but am I incorrect in that? Maybe I haven’t found it.

Scott Monty: Well we have a site called the which we put together in December of 2008 to kind of differentiate ourslef from our domestic competitors. But over time what it’s turned into is a site of news, information sharing and a social hub. And it is a blog. It was actually built on WordPress. Every article that goes up there, we have comments coming in. we actually bring comments in from Facebook as well and integrate all of those. We’ve got a login system now. People can subscribe via email, RSS, what have you. We encourage people to submit their own ideas there so we’re not just highlighting ford content and we also encourage people to submit did I say ideas or stories?

DK: Ideas.

Scott Monty: Ideas. So we do encourage ideas. So again, it’s kind of crowdsourcing some of our ideas that are, or peoples ideas that are you know they can then share, they can rate, they can communicate with each other. So it’s not ideas just going into a black hole for some engineer or lawyer to review. It’s actually community review. And the product marketing team is actually watching that very closely. We’ve also got yourstories which is an opportunity for people to submit photos, videos and stories about how ford has touched their life in one way or another. And probably where we’ve missed out on that site, I know you’re going to ask me in a minute about mistakes. Part of what we’ve missed out on that site I think is the narrative style. I think it’s written more like a reporting type site. What we try to do is take stories that we’ve got in the news and I’ve you the back story behind them; give you the insider scoop instead of, okay, we’ve got a new compressed natural gas taxi that’s coming to Chicago. Well how did that come about? Who was the team behind it, where did the decision come from? Rather than just making the announcement, okay. So we want to keep giving people that inside flavor of what’s going on. And I think the opportunity we have there is to take more of a personal narrative style behind that. be like, hey come with me now behind the scenes as I join the Chief engineer for this project. And, and doing video interviews like this, doing live chats, all sorts of things like that that give us an opportunity to make sure that that site among all others is the most humanized of all of our sites.

DK: Yeah, something we tell our clients that that’s about process over product. Because we all want to know the process, that’s a juicy bit for us. You know we all want to know how you come up with that idea, and what were the pitfalls. And you touched on mistakes there. Is there anything else that you’ve done over the last couple of years maybe internally, maybe on a very one to one basis around social media that you know you’ve learned from and you definitely would like to share that as a learning outcome?

Scott Monty: We’ve been very fortunate at ford to have avoided any kind of major mine or mistake in the social media space. I think we’ve learned from others that have gone before us. That’s part of the benefit of being a latecomer to the field, you let other people make the mistakes first. But we’ve also been very methodical about our approach and I think we’ve got a really good team that gives input as to what’s going to work and what’s not. Does that mean that everything that we’ve done has been perfect? Absolutely not. There’s tweaks we could make here and there. But by and large we’ve been fairly fortunate. What I will say though is that internally from an infrastructure perspective how we’re working as a team, how we’re sharing best practices, playbooks, guidelines, etc that could use some improvement. And how we think about again as I mentioned at the top of the interview, how we take everything that’s going on out there and feed it back systematically into the business. I think we could do a lot better at that. we’re really just at the tip of the iceberg right now. But how do we actually take consumer comments, filter out the stuff that perhaps that is just anecdotal or simply directional and how we make something out of that to present to a product development team or to an R&D team or an engineering team or a marketing team to improve our processes. That’s the next wave I think where we’re going.

DK: Okay. So last couple of questions. I would love to get your take on response, a piece of advice if you will to others out there, other companies, other organizations who are trying to get their head around the value of social media. What one piece of advice from your perspective and experience would you give them?

Scott Monty: Well, it’s tough because everybody’s coming at it with a different mindset whether it’s the need for social media to connect with consumers, to improve maybe insights or product research, competitive intelligence perhaps. You know I think for the executive who’s skeptical as to whether we should even be involved in anything like this, going to and typing in the name of your company or the name of your biggest competitor and seeing what people are actually saying about that. that can be a big wakeup call. And to see those comments coming in in real time, in multitude; it’s pretty eye-opening. I think when we think about how broad Facebook has stretched its wings, how it’s truly a global platform not just a US or European based platform but truly global. It’s astounding. And Facebook’s continued march to integrate itself into the rest of the web is something that can’t be under estimated. That being said, I think we need to understand that this is simply just another channel. It is not the end all, be all of communications, it’s to be integrated with everything else that you’re doing. And let’s not forget again, face to face matters a great deal. And there’s stuff that you can do in person with your customers, with your employees, with your supplier base; whatever it happens to be. Extremely important. Its great to begin relationships like this, but to really cement with an in person experience when you can is really what’s going to bring it home.

DK: Yeah. We got a saying that goes, “Real life has more bandwidth”. Which sums that up I think. So last final question Scott, what are your future plans in terms of social media for Ford?

Scott Monty: Well, I was going to say a nice vacation somewhere. But, for Ford, we understand that this is not going away. We need to better integrate it into the business. In addition, I think we also need to figure out how we’re doing it globally and we fully realize that a one size fits all approach onto every market is not going to work. But having a global understanding of best practices, of our overall philosophy and strategy so that everyone understands from where we’re coming from, and then they can execute it as appropriate in their own individual markets. That’s what’s going to help fuel us forward. So coming up with some kind of global infrastructure to support that. and then really putting more, more of a programmatic approach around how our advocates are advocating for us rather than leaving it to chance. How we build something programmatic, how we systemize some of those relationships and actions that people take and we’re able to take that, take those actions and surface them for others to see and to get excited about. So those are a few of the major things. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that kind of an underpinning to all of this is how we do this from a mobile perspective. Clearly that’s going to be a dominate platform for us in the future. I mean, think about it, all of our customers are mobile and they’ve got their devices with them. So how are we communicating with them on a regular basis through their devices or how are we allowing them to connect with us how they see fit, or consume content on their mobile devices.

DK: Interesting. Well I just want to say thank you for giving up your time Scott. It’s a pleasure to actually speak to you finally. And I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Scott Monty: Hey my pleasure.

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