I have been critical of Twitter as a marketing tool in past articles, mostly because of the hype surrounding it, the complexity of managing your message, it’s limited scope and the manpower necessary to be successful, but I love social media as a whole. In my opinion, tying all of the media together is critical and Ford Motor Company has made a huge push in doing just that.
Ford has published a custom web site – http://www.thefordstory.com – stuffed into one of the more flexible opensource CMS providers market. This is not easy to do. Third party software doesn’t mean you just stick some pictures into a template. They must have hundreds of hours put into such a project. Shannon-Rose Design has been spending some time working with custom WordPress layouts and functionality, and it isn’t simple; however, the benefits in searchability and social networking are very promising.
This is not the same as taking a WordPress template and adding text and images—everything was written from the ground up. It has a top menu area that functions like a web site rather than a blog, meaning information is distributed on the page, and purposefully designed, rather than posts stacked one on top of the other. The usual WordPress functionality and plug-ins are used including video imported from YouTube, images, and links to outside articles.
We wanted to know what Ford was doing to back up this social media program, so we sent a Tweet with a question about stationwagons. Within minutes we got a Twitter response from an actual person. If you look at their Twitter account, most of their Tweets are responses to individuals, rather than generic statements to the public. I can only imagine the amount of staff they have working on this.
Here is the response to our question…
The Ford Marketing Department is actively receiving auto references about Ford products and personally getting into the conversation. Read their Tweets at http://twitter.com/ford. This is a massive effort to manage and participate in the conversation about their brand. Information feeds directly to other social media such as Flickr, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.
If you’ve read this previous post on Twitter, you know I feel that the quality of the content is a huge component in whether or not this tool can be effective and relevant. Well, Ford found a way to a. take all of the guess work out of it and b. be extremely revelant by directly answering consumers in a personal and timely fashion. You can Twitter, I can Twitter, anyone can Twitter—and Ford is Twittering. But it’s not just URLs or corporate “waving hello” or even empty platitudes: it’s conversation. Conversation grounds the company in the marketplace and connects it to the people.
Posted by Richard Kline