Cover Story: The Social Network Star
No one is forcing Scott Monty to star in a YouTube video with a bespectacled, suit-wearing blowup doll as he explains the application process for the latest consumer competition created by Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Company. The head of social media for the once staid legacy brand—"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black," founder Henry Ford once said—is clearly doing so to help Ford navigate a new marketing path.
Monty, whose formal title according to his LinkedIn profile is "global digital and multimedia communications manager," became part of Ford's forward-looking approach to marketing in July 2008. The American automaker's great epiphany had already occurred a few months before, when its leadership noticed "digital communications and digital marketing were absolutely something that were going to be an important part of the future," Monty says. Customers were communicating digitally and it was time to change in accordance with them, not years later.
Since then, Monty says Ford has integrated social media into its marketing mix through a hub-and-spoke model, wiping out silos as it goes. That means employees throughout the company can be part of the process by becoming informed about the message, then going back out to their specialty areas and communicating with consumers in their own voices. So Ford's marketing message, for instance, stays consistent in free social networking venues, in paid digital efforts and in other forms of public communication. Then consumers see the same Ford in everything from Facebook pages to ads, from Twitter profiles to promoted tweets and trends, and from banner ads to rich media.
Hence, there's the YouTube video of Monty and his suited co-anchor and plastic doppelgänger. The message they convey reinforces Ford's message about the new Focus—that it represents "the first in a wave of global cars, where we'll have about 80 percent commonality, in terms of parts and platforms and everything, across the globe." Viewers are told how to submit a video by Dec. 31, 2010, to Facebook.com/FordFocus for a chance to be chosen as one of the 100 social media influencers who will test drive the car this month at the Ford Focus Global Test Drive near Madrid, Spain.