Posted on December 13, 2008 by Roxanne Darling
Can Ford be the Social Media Turnaround Story of 2009? I would love to see that! They are off to a good start; here are my ideas on how they can ramp up their efforts and increase the chances for success.
Caveat: My father worked for Ford for 37 years, retiring as Vice President of Marketing worldwide, so I was raised in the automotive business. I’ve had sisters, brothers-in-law, and one ex-husband who have all worked in the auto business – covering everything from corporate, the union, the ad agency, the supplier, and the dealer network. Me? I’ve been a car driver with an interest in the environment, change, the global economy, and leadership. And a critic of the auto industry as well.
I started college at UC Riverside in 1970. Riverside is about 60 miles inland from LA. There were many days when I could not exercise outdoors because of the dangerous levels of air pollution, for which auto exhaust was the main contributor. A year later I transferred to UC Berkeley, a hotbed of change-makers and people who were tired of the status quo across many genres.
We faced the first gas crisis in 1972 – I remember waiting in lines over 2 hours long to get a tank of gas, while we worried about what crazy things could happen out of the Middle East. 35 years later, we see some of the crazy things that have happened in and around and out of the Middle East. You can blame Carter (as one retired auto exec recently did in private conversations) or you can look at a history of missed opportunities in the auto industry, as NY Times columnist Tom Friedman recently did.
Tom Friedman’s points were really right on IMO – his analogy of the marketplace being driven by “start-up” energy is spot on I think. The auto industry has always thought they know best, but really, they have been in a 30-year decline. Some have tried valiantly to impact that – but the internal forces they have been fighting are enormous. To pick out the parts of his editorial and attack them on tiny details is to miss the overall message – Detroit has had the brain power and the resources for DECADES to lead the energy and security and transportation markets but they instead have had their heads in the sand fed by arrogance and insularity. The democratization of ideas and actions is something Ford has resisted but could actually help it IMO.
Guy Kawasaki has also said this for over a decade – there are no unique ideas. If you have one, count on at least 5 others having it too. The winner is the one who executes best, who can rally people around it, who can build momentum for change when humans by instinct mostly resist it.
So here are a few ideas for how Ford can use Social Media to help change its downward-spiraling fate.
There are many; here are a few that attract my interest:
Visit these pages as I will be referring to both of them:
Here is my advice for Ford to ramp up its use of social media. These ideas can also apply to tourism and other industries too.
My time is up on this point. I have barely scratched the surface of what is in my brain for how Ford can be using the tools of the social web far more effectively for the amount of money it is spending.
The challenge to sales and marketing is that people have bought once (or in some cases for a generation), but have gotten lemons. We all know how hard it is to get them back. But the pain point right now is incredibly opportunistic (thanks to a myriad of seemingly unrelated factors) and the social web offers us tools to communicate with each other – to tell our truths, to share our wishes, to negotiate our deals. If you are willing to put in the time (remember, time is the new money!) and you are willing to learn as well as teach and share, then gold is definitely awaiting you.