CEO involvement buoys Ford's social media drive

DEARBORN, MI: Ford Motor Co.'s CEO Alan Mulally took part in a Twitter-based Q&A on April 15 as part of an expanded foray into social media.

DEARBORN, MI: Ford Motor Co.'s CEO Alan Mulally took part in a Twitter-based Q&A on April 15 as part of an expanded foray into social media. Ford has recently developed a more aggressive social media strategy to better connect with consumers at a time when car companies are struggling globally.

Using the hashtag #FordCEO, Mulally, in conjunction with Scott Monty, manager of digital and multimedia communications, answered the public's questions via the Ford Twitter account. Mulally had previously taken media questions through Twitter, but this effort was a way to connect with “anyone... interested in Ford's progress,” said Monty.

Ford has also been leveraging other social media tools, like Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, to align with its ongoing efforts to show the people behind the brand, he added.

“We're embracing a communications strategy [that's] shifted away from focusing primarily on financial and auto publications... and more toward consumer-facing [initiatives],” explained Monty. “Social media is a big part of that.”

According to social media firm Vitrue, Ford's efforts are paying off. The firm recently ranked it as the top social automotive brand based on its Social Media Index, which measured the amount of chatter across the blogosphere and social networks during Q1. Its Lincoln brand ranked second; GM was third.

Leading up to the New York Auto Show earlier this month, Ford announced its new Fiesta Movement program. It will provide Ford Fiestas to about 100 digital influencers who will develop content to appear on the eponymous campaign site and TheFordStory.com. It held a “Tweet Up” and had staff tweet to offer Fiesta rides to anyone in the city during the show.

Team Detroit, which includes Ogilvy PR's 360o Digital Influence and ad firms, helped coordinate Fiesta Movement.

Ford plans to put 200 influencers behind the wheel of other Ford vehicles to write about their experiences. They will include 40 bloggers in the tech and green spaces for a Spring Break program.

While Ford does not have a social media AOR, it often works with Toronto-based Social Media Group.

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