The beauty of storytelling by proxy – featuring Ford

For the moment, I’m not in the market for a new car. However, if I were, the social campaigns from major car manufacturers would certainly influence my decisions. Dodge has begun beefing up its latest push for their newest jewel, the Dart, with a fun TV spot. Titled, ‘How to Change Cars Forever’, the Dart is promising lots of cool with all the stability packed into a European model. As far as the social aspect, there’s nothing much to speak on quite yet. On the other hand…

Ford

Ah, yes, Scott Monty and his crew in Detroit have always been on the forefront of digital communication. In 2009, Ford allowed 100 bloggers to drive the new Fiesta for six months, bypassing the traditions of celebrity endorsements. The company simply asked the bloggers to produce social content (statuses, tweets, videos, photos, etc.) to promote their new vehicle. The numbers below reflect the results after only 5 months. Oh, and might I add, they spent no money on traditional advertising.

- 4.4 million YouTube views
- 500,000+ Flickr views
- 3 million+ Twitter impression
- 50,000 interested potential customers (97% of which didn’t own a Ford at the time)*
- 10,000 sales nationwide in the first 6 days of release
* Numbers via Mashable & Business Insider, 2009

Substantial, right?

Trade Marketing

In their initial campaign, Ford generated 117 Million consumer engagements. Ford knew that not all of these people were going to purchase vehicles, but the buzz certainly helped drive a few thousand to reach for their checkbooks. The bloggers that were given the keys to the kingdom were asked to take on monthly missions (e.g., ‘fast food nation’) and record videos promoting the adventures the Fiesta took them on.

Ford basically made a trade with these folks on good faith: ‘use the car as you wish, just make sure you record what you’re doing’. Imagine if you gave away your product to strangers in return for free promotion. Would you be comfortable with this scenario? Ford stills seems pretty keen on the idea, revealing during the 2012 MLB All-Star Game they’ll keep the ‘Movement’ going with the 2013 Fusion.

Ford continually is brought up in the conversation of enterprises doing social business ‘right’. They get it. They’re responsive. They’re daring. Being brave in the uncharted waters that lie ahead of us often make for the best stories. When trusting others to do right by your own business’s reputation we would understand why there may be trepidation. They are not you…but that’s exactly what the social web is.

When reflecting upon our own narratives in life, there are many decisions that alter our course in our journey through life. There are certain decisions we have no control over. Ford and many other social businesses have chosen to embrace the high seas; follow their lead and let others tell your story. Because, realistically, the consumers always have been a part of the narrative (social recommendations aren’t a new thing) it’s just that organizations are only now allowing the audience to be a part of the performance. To that, I say, ‘good show’.

  • http://scottmonty.com scottmonty

    Jonathan, thank you for being so tuned in to what our team at Ford is doing and for your kind words. We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful customers and fans who have such great stories of their own to tell as they related to Ford. Our job is to continue to help discover those stories and make them possible by creating great products that lead in fuel economy, technology and design, and to be ever more creative with our communications and marketing efforts.

    Fortunately, we have just as strong a sense of passion inside Ford and with our agency partners as we see with our fans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000728128639 Niranjan Mutkekar

    Excellent article! Ford has done so good in recent years through social, thanks to @scottmonty:disqus. He is an excellent source of inspiration for not only the social media geeks, but also to other consumer market based companies which are still in nascent phase of ‘what/when/how’ questions on power of social media & crowd-sourcing Thanks for leading by example, Ford!.

  • http://about.me/jwsteiert Jonathan Steiert

    Scott, thank you for commenting. It’s quite a credit to you and the organization you’re apart of for tracking down this post and letting us know you’re truly listening. I’m a big fan of Ford’s vision and their social efforts, steered by you. Bill Ford Jr’s TED Talk about A Future Beyond Traffic Gridlock is one of my favorite presentations. Thank you for chiming into Social Media Philanthropy. We just started a podcast called Social Echoes and we’d love to invite you onto the show. Please keep up the great work at Ford and keep telling great stories!

  • http://about.me/jwsteiert Jonathan Steiert

    Scott, thank you so much for chiming in on the post. It’s always so great to have the featured company’s leader step forward just to say, ‘thanks!’ I’m a big fan of Ford’s use of storytelling, if you couldn’t tell, and Bill Ford Jr’s presentation on A Future Beyond Traffic Gridlock is one of my favorite TED Talks. We just started a social business podcast called Social Echoes; we would love to invite you on as a guest. Thanks for chiming in, Scott.

  • Jonathan Steiert

    Scott, thank you so much for chiming in on the post. It’s always so great to have the featured company’s leader step forward just to say, ‘thanks!’ I’m a big fan of Ford’s use of storytelling, if you couldn’t tell, and Bill Ford Jr’s presentation on A Future Beyond Traffic Gridlock is one of my favorite TED Talks. We just started a social business podcast called Social Echoes (http://www.socialechoespodcast.com/); we would love to invite you on as a guest. Thanks for chiming in, Scott.