How does a 110 year old car manufacturer, the fifth largest in the world, remain relevant, engaging and remotely approachable in the digital age?
It seems like a fiction, but the venerable American corporation does some excellent work on many different social media channels, tailoring its output and connecting to each channel’s audience with the right content and tone of voice.
I’m writing this as someone who doesn’t have a particular interest in cars, either from a practical or aesthetic point of view.
However, as someone with a definite interest in great content, over the past few months Ford has definitely piqued my curiosity. Particularly when it comes to social video.
Branded Vines are deliberately lo-fi, because there is no point in spending a lot of money on something that’s only six seconds long.
This encourages a huge amount of inventiveness, humour and charm, even from the most serious of corporate brands. Ford is one of those brands and right now is one of the best on the channel.
Its Vines are genuinely funny…
Partners with other Vine users to create videos for the brand and promotes that user’s channel…
And who doesn’t love semi-obscure literary references?
Since Ford took to Vine and began uploading a series of funny, low budget videos, I suddenly have a lot more affection for the brand.
Vine has encouraged Ford to show character, charm and imagination.
Ford are also attracting a younger demographic through its newly launched Tumblr site.
Tumblr is a perfect platform to target for content marketing, especially if your content is particularly eye-catching or attractive. As it’s a micro-blogging platform there’s a skew towards short form content (GIFs, memes, graphics, photos, infographics) which often gains the most engagement.
‘And is Better’ is the name of Ford’s Tumblr and its intention is to promote its new campaign of the same name. Apparently ‘either/or’ is no longer a viable choice, ‘and’ should be the way we expect things to be offered to us…
Ford is going out of its way to entice the Tumblr audience with its twin interests of unicorns and bacon.
It also has a healthy idea of the sorts of tropes and signifiers that us Tumblr users of a certain age are attracted to.
Although ‘a whole lotta awesome’ should perhaps be filed under ‘embarrassing things my Granddad might say to sound cool’.
Much like Pinterest, Tumblr even works for your brand even if you don’t have lots of content, as Tumblr can still be used to share things that help to build your brand’s identity.
I think what I enjoy most about Ford’s Instagram channel is the fact that the content isn’t repeated anywhere else. If you want to see cool images of Ford’s cars from its entire history you have to follow this channel.
The content here is particularly tailored to the expectations of most Instagram users. All the images are clear and beautifully shot, taking full advantage of Instagram’s filters.
With a heavy lean towards the classic or retro end of the scale.
Peaks into the behind-the-scenes history of Ford.
And many a vintage advert.
It’s a rich and varied channel, that is as different to all of Ford’s other social channels as they are to this.
Ford is currently running an interesting campaign at the moment. Show Ford your very worst examples of pot-holes…
It was only uploaded today but there is already a high volume of comments. Ford knows it’s a sore subject for many drivers.
The post itself also links to the Ford website, where all of the worst examples are highlighted and where Ford gives quite detailed advice, via a video and text, as to what to do examine after you’ve hit a particularly nasty one and how to fight back.
Facebook is of course nothing without engagement and even though Ford has 2.2m followers it knows it can’t just broadcast without conversation. With recent tweaks to the news feed algorithim, Ford can’t afford to lose its fans’ interest.
Thankfully Ford is a very chatty car manufacturer.
These aren’t just rote replies, Ford’s social media team is genuinely reading the comments, asking questions and conversing further down the line.
It’s a big commitment but totally in-keeping with Ford’s desire to appear approachable and relatable despite its size.
Ford is one of the first companies to enjoy Twitter’s new layout. Ford has also been quick to ensure its profile and header images are correctly optimised to the new format.
Much like Facebook, Ford uses Twitter as an engagement channel. It’s a sterling effort and one that many companies could learn from. Thanks to the new layout you can click between Ford’s tweets only and Ford’s tweets and replies. It’s under the latter tab that you can see the vast amount of conversation that Ford engages with.
There are masses of these replies and you can scroll down forever reading through them all. I also think it’s worth pointing out that Ford asks permission to use followers’ images that they’ve tweeted at the brand for further promotion on other channels.
— Scott Burgess (@AutoCritic) April 14, 2014
Ford understands the value of its customers and making them brand ambassadors through the retweeting of their images only fosters a deeper sense of loyalty.