Ford is Leveraging Social To Gain Fans and Top Rankings

What Is Ford Doing In Social?

The car industry has always been extremely competitive and  they, like the rest of the companies out there, are trying to figure out how to leverage social media to increase loyalty and sales.  Ford Motor Company decided early that they wanted to be a leader in using Social Media as a part of their marketing . Their 1st big move was securing Scott Monty as their Global Social Media Lead, who is a revered social media expert with a large following of his own.

Ford Introduces Fan Badges

Recently Ford came out  on their Ford Social site with Ford Badges that you can download and share. Scott on his Google+ profile explained how people could use the badges.  “Post it on your blog, make it an avatar or profile pic, put it on your wallpaper on your desktop, iPhone or Android”. He also said that the badges are  ” just the beginning of a broader program. For now, they’re designed to allow people to self-identify and see who else they share an interest with. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what else is coming.”

Fan or Foe, Who Doesn’t Want A Badge?

People have become completely obsessed with badges in the last couple of years, thanks to foursquare, klout, and several other applications. I know people whose weekends revolve around capturing more  badges for social bragging rights. I can see people who are not big fans of Ford, who find a fun badge, and then post it to there Facebook wall. Ford is smart to get involved with this new way of marketing and its proving to be effective! The Ford Lifer badge (pictured below) for example has had over 10,000 downloads alone. I’d like to see the statistics on how many have been downloaded all together. Maybe Scott or Ford will give us an update soon.

Sharing A Ford Motor  Lifer Badge

How Does This Help Ford Motors Company?

1) Builds brand loyalty

People like to brag what they are passionate about, especially when their favorite brand has a big rival.  We see this all the time with brands for example Apple vs PC, Coke vs Pepsi, and of course Ford vs Chevrolet. Fans take a side and want something  to show to rub it in their rival friends faces.  Ford  helps in this by giving their fans  a fun and free way to show their pride wherever they want on the web. Both parties are happy because the fan gets a shiny new badge while Ford is getting free promotion and advertising with each share of these badges.

2) Building brand connections instead of recognition

In years past  the best  way to display  your companies brand was to buy a Superbowl ad. Now companies are forgoing the traditional $20 million  30 second super bowl commercial price tag  for social media campaigns. Like when Pepsi did  their  Pepsi Refresh Project where they put that $20 million  into a monthly online contest for people to submit their ideas and compete for votes to win grants to do their  projects.

These type of projects allow people to not only recognize the brand that but to really interact and  connect with it. I’ll be the first to admit that the Super Bowl commercials are hilarious, but are quickly forgotten. With Ford and these badges they are connecting and building pride in their brand with their fans, which is not quickly forgotten.

3) SEO benefits of badges

The SEO side of me has to notice the fact that  all of this social sharing and widget embedding is not only producing a lot of great marketing for Ford , but its also creating lots of links to the site! The lifer badge earlier had over 10,000 downloads, and that’s just 1 badge. Imagine the Thousands or even millions of possible links that these badges are producing back to Ford.com.

Also the effects of Social on SEO has been a big topic this year, and its only getting bigger.  Google is starting to have search results be influenced by the connections of  the searchers social networks. Which means with these badges the searchers results could be influenced to include links about Ford that usually wouldn’t appear. I think that this will be a great advantage for Ford in the future when social signals are an even bigger part of seo.

Whats The Next Step?

Again Scott Monty said that these badges are just the beginning of a bigger plan. What do you think is next for Ford Motor Company or what would you like to see happen? As always I look forward to your comments.

About Benjamin Beck

Benjamin Beck is an online marketing consultant with an emphasis in SEO and Social Media consulting. When he is not blogging for New Comm Biz he likes to post on his own blog, micro lend on Kiva.org, and strive to check things off of his bucket-list.
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  • http://twitter.com/JakeDylik Jacob Dylik

    Thanks for sharing, Benjamin.  I’ve had experience with the autos and Ford is definitely in a good place when it comes to social – even their corporate (main) website is tailored to incorporate social/digital campaigns more than any other car company’s site.
    I recently finished a student campaign for them involving SYNC technology, and can say that Ford has a lot of innovations in the work.  They’re now the most popular brand in America, and have good vibes (PR) going for them since they rejected the bailout money. 
    While KIA, VW, Hyundai, etc. are certainly making moves, I think Ford’s in a very good spot going forward.
    Interestingly enough, during the Super Bowl, Scott Monty was tweeting back at people who questioned why Ford didn’t have any spots.  If I remember correctly, his answer was that Ford doesn’t release new vehicles until later in the year…but perhaps he’s just got his mind focused on more social movements, like you suggested.  
    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Jacob, 

    Great response, thank you for your additional comments!

    Follow up questions.

    If you were Ford, what would you do next?