William Randolph Hearst, who had no fear of stretching the truth to its breaking point, would shake his head in amazement if he could see what happens on social media. Sensationalizing newspaper stories to increase circulation has been replaced with controversy-stoking fires designed to increase page views and clicks. Truth in commentary is optional. "Yellow journalism," as it was once called, affects more than website traffic and print circulation. It can be used to alter brand image by manipulating social platforms, search engines and traditional news outlets. If the company doesn't respond or responds poorly, the results can be long lasting and lethal.
Ford Motor Company isn't shy about social media. Four years ago, it hired PR guy Scott Monty to establish a more cohesive social media program—and it hasn't looked back. Following campaigns that combined Facebook with real-world adventures, the car company began developing branded entertainment with social media components. Last year's "Focus Rally" was an online-only show; this year's "Escape Routes" aired on NBC and urged viewers to tweet along and upload their own videos.
Marketers want to be where consumers are, but Google doesn't yet want companies participating in Google+. The latest social network now sees about 1.8 million visitors a week, according to Experian Hitwise. And, as many marketers already suspect, a large-scale adoption of Google+ by consumers will probably influence real-time search.
Scott 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.
Over the past couple of years, an entirely new kind of executive has begun to appear in the upper echelons of US corporations: the social media strategist. Some 200 major US businesses now employ such a person.
When it comes to marketing innovation, Ford Motor Company is ensuring it lives up to one of its more popular brand slogans, "built for the road ahead." By integrating social media into various facets of the company's market outreach activities, the auto manufacturer hopes to remain more relevant and connected to today's car buyers. "We're in the midst of showcasing the faces of Ford to the world," said Ford's Global Digital Communications Manager Scott Monty, describing his firm's drive into social media marketing in his keynote address on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the DMA09 Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.