It's hard to go anywhere today on the web and not get the news that Ford is "revealing" its latest version of the Explorer, the SUV that practically launched the category many years ago. Social Media Today checked in with blogger, friend and member of Social Media Today, Scott Monty, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the launch.
The campaign is not totally social, but includes print, broadcast and non-social online, but this is the first time any automotive company has launched on facebook, rather than at an auto show. According to Scott, "We knew we wanted to take the opportunity to reveal it in a drastically different way because it's a drastically different car. Accordingly, we'd have to update the way we talked about it to the public."
"If we'd done the same-old," i.e. launching at a show, "the challenge would be that we'd be talking to ourselves. Like the social media industry, the auto industry has a 'bubble;' to be effective, we'd have to reach beyond our usual comfort zone."
People have always talked about their cars, usually at grocery stores, bars, etc. Now Ford recognizes that the conversations are taking place online. As Scott points out, "you look at the phenomenal growth but it's growth (500M just last week) - it's a new way of sharing information."
Whom do people trust? The press has always been the target at auto shows, but as the Edelman Trust Index and many surveys point out, buyers also trust "people like them." With facebook, "If we can touch them (125 M in the U.S.) that's a pretty good chunk of the population," according to Scott.
How much did Ford take off the shelf and how much did they customize? "What we're doing is facebook markup language with custom tab. We worked to come up with a sophisticated tab, which was a countdown to the actual reveal and how many people like the Explorer. That new tab went on at 12 am this morning."
Ogilvy360 is the lead social media agency, working with ad agency Team Detroit.
Ford's approach to social media is not simply about external marketing, but stems from its internal focus, known as OneFord, that is about leadership and empowerment as well as tactics and tools. Was senior management concerned about a Nestle-like effect on facebook? Not at all, reports Scott. "Senior management definitely sees the power of social media. Not only because of cost efficiencies, but also because that's where customers are now."