Scott Monty, Head of Social Media at Ford

The speakers at this year’s BST conference will be sharing their insights into how social media works within business. To give you a glimpse of what you can expect at the live event (which happens on Tuesday, May 5), here are 3 questions with Ford‘s head of social media, Scott Monty.

Q: Why is Ford investing their time and effort in social media?

A: We recognize that digital / social media communications are the future; no longer is it seen as a trend.  Instead, it’s where a lot of our constituents are spending their time, and it’s up to us to be there to share information, have a two-way dialog, and to learn from them.

If we can start with a solid social media strategy and begin to execute both internally and externally, we’ll be in a position to humanize the company to the outside world.  If the world at large could be made more aware of the stories we have to tell (and of the storytellers themselves), and if we give them the ability to share these stories with their own communities, we’ll begin to see perceptions changing, and ultimately, to see a rise in sales.

Q: What are some of the ways you’ve seen Ford benefit from using social media tools?

A: One of the areas I started on very early was the idea of opening up our media events – in-vehicle programs and forums with our subject matter experts – to bloggers at large.  Historically, these have been open to traditional journalists and automotive bloggers.  But my contention is that nearly everyone needs to buy a car, so if we can form relationships with mainstream bloggers, we can reach more mainstream customers – like the readers of these blogs, who trust the authors because they’ve been following them for so long.  With that theory in place, I’ve been pushing to reach out to bloggers interested in technology, environmental issues, luxury/design, and parents, to name a few.

Aside from blogger relations, we have an immediate opportunity to help change the perception through my own participation on Twitter, blogs and forums.  I do a lot of commenting on posts that may have some misinformation, and I share news and information from my unique position within the company.  And I hope I do all of this in an authentic way, to give the company a little more of a human element.

I think it’s paid off.  A recent study showed that Ford came in as #1 a listing of the Top 20 Most Social Auto Brands; previously, Ford was ranked #12 on an overall listing of the Top 100 Social Brands of 2008.

Q: How difficult is it to keep up with emerging trends in social media?

A: You know, I used to worry about that more when I was a consultant.  It seems like there’s a new site/service/network/tool out there every day.  But joining a company like Ford has made me realize that we need to concentrate on where the mainstream is going.  It helps in two ways: first, it keeps us from chasing after trends that are fool’s gold; and we can concentrate our efforts on the main sites that matter.

Thought leaders are way out ahead.  I’ve seen people proclaiming the death of blogging for over a year, yet there’s still a good portion of the population that is just getting up to speed on that.  And if I ever uttered the word “Plurk” in a meeting, I’d be laughed out of the room.

Now that’s not to say we shouldn’t try new things and see what works for us and our constituents.  We’ll do that, and I’ll rely on my own trendspotting abilities and that of our partner agencies to help determine what’s worth trying.

Learn more from Scott Monty and the rest of our speakers at the 2009 Business Smart Tools Conference on May 5 — register here!






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