The Man Behind the Magic: Scott Monty and Ford’s Social Media Madness

Social Media /So-shul-me-dee-uh/ n. Facebook. Twitter. Flicker. Comments and Likes. Tweetup* and peeps and posts. A dialogue online. A chat room, chat forum, chat with your fingers. Blogs and buzz and news and links.  The everyday language and the way of life for Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company’s Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager and Head of Social Media in Dearborn, Michigan.

*Monty coined this word, which is now accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Scott Monty imageA short five years ago, Scott Monty had no idea he’d be at the forefront of Ford Motor Company’s corporate social media movement. He was attending marketing conferences, noticing a quiet movement of artistic techie-types off in a corner speaking of strange foreign concepts like “blogs” and “tweets” and “platforms.” But he wasn’t one to overlook their ideas, even when they pushed against traditional marketing concepts. So, he started his first blog about the one thing he knew best—Sherlock Holmes. By combining his personal interest with professional experimentation, he started to figure out what works in social media and what doesn’t.

Today he is far from a Sherlock Holmes blog, although it still exists, and instead is the man behind the face of Ford on the Internet. It’s not uncommon for him to pose a question on Facebook and see 400 comments from across the country in just a few hours.  He works under the belief that people use social media to connect with others, businesses, and ideas outside of their immediate community.

[Video One] Scott Monty speaks about how he got into Social Media

“People want to be involved in something bigger than themselves.  They are giving feedback to a company that wouldn’t have cared a wit what they thought just three years ago.  Now they are having a dialogue with the Ford Motor Company,” he says.

Monty’s social media push encourages dealerships to follow suit, as he realizes that the company is built upon independent dealers competing against one another to sell what he calls tremendous products. This competition ideally will fuel into a positive feedback loop for Ford, he explains.

“When we acknowledge dealerships that are doing [social media] well, feeding into the loop, we’ll see all of them start to rise in time because dealers are very competitive,” he says, although he recognizes the limitations of corporate Ford’s influence on individual dealers.

“We can do everything perfect…but if someone walks into a dealership and it doesn’t match their expectations, it’s done. We can’t tell dealerships what to do.”  Corporate Ford does equip dealers with digital training tool kits, but many are too busy to start their own social media marketing program.

One dealership that has jumped on the social media bandwagon is Lebanon Ford, with Social Media Director Jeff Cryder making the drive to Michigan to meet and discuss Monty’s successes. The existence of Cryder’s position is extremely helpful in making any dealership’s social media efforts worthwhile, Monty emphasizes.

“It takes somebody with a fundamental understanding of the product line and the company,” Monty says of the job. This is what will make social media marketing work at a dealership level, in his eyes. That, and posing some great open-ended questions.

Recently, in Ford’s Facebook posts, Monty has asked questions like “Share your top five tips for taking care of your Ford. Do you polish? Wax? Etc.” (Sept. 24, 2010). This type of questions leads to an open dialogue in Ford’s online community. Monty also emphasizes the importance of knowing when and how to censor this community.

“We let people talk uncensored about the product—we didn’t delete any of the negative stuff, and there wasn’t very much of it anyway,” Monty jokes. But they do censor obscene, irrelevant, and overly aggressive comments.

He works under the strong assumption that people will talk, regardless of what forum they are given.  He references an example often of what not to do, involving a restaurant owner who came across a bad review of his business online. The restaurant owner, instead of responding positively by correcting the problem, took offense and shot back with an angry comment. Monty uses this as an example of the importance of responding professionally, even in social media dialogue.

“People have talked about their cars since Henry T. Ford’s time.  If we ignore it, we do so at our own peril because they will go somewhere else if they feel they aren’t being acknowledged. We’ll do what’s right,” Monty says. He adds quickly, though, that what’s “right” is not necessarily replacing someone’s transmission outside of warranty terms.

At the end of the day tweeting, Facebooking, and building an online presence, Monty says social media marketing is “all about building relationships and building trust.” He says it’s important in helping people to not feel like they are being taken advantage of, and it’s back to the basics of business, when “a handshake and a look in the eye” was all you needed to gain trust.

[Video Two] Scott Monty on Building Online Relationships

[Video Three] Scott Monty on How to Merge Traditional and Social Media

[Video Four] Scott Monty on How to Measure Social Media ROI

[Video Five] Scott Monty on Connecting Global to Dealer Experiences

[Video Six] Scott Monty on Executing Social Media at the Dealer Level

[Video Seven] Scott Monty on How to Manage your Online Reputation

__________

Scott Monty and his wife, Melinda, live in Michigan with their two sons. He has been working for Ford since 2008. His Facebook page describes his marketing strategies in his own words:
“When it comes to new marketing, I’m in the game, having authored five blogs since 2003, including The Social Media Marketing Blog. Among my many unique talents are voice-over work, impressions, sartorialism and a deep and abiding knowledge of Sherlock Holmes, which manifests itself in The Baker Street Blog and the podcast I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.”

You can also find Scott Monty at: The Social Media Marketing Blog,  Baker Street Blog, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, Nothing Could Be Finer Diner

Video and editing done by Mark and Samantha Roberts at aHumanPerson Productions

Read more articles on our Lebanon Ford blog.