Ford’s Scott Monty and I Discuss Social Media - Next Gen Market Research Guru Interview #17
I was introduced to Scott Monty last year and since then he has been one whose online activity I make a note of paying special attention to. For those of you not familiar with Scott, in the realm of social media experts he is one of the few on the client side, and has earned a great deal of respect and awareness.
Scott is head of social media at Ford Motor Co, and according to International Business Times “has quickly become one of the most important people at Ford”. I asked Scott a few questions I thought would be of interest to the NGMR membership and researchers in general.
Tom: Scott, you’re Head of Social Media (AKA Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager) at Ford Motor Company, Could you tell me a bit about how you got the job, and what it entails?
Scott: I’m part of the corporate communications team and our overarching goals are to improve the company’s reputation and help build purchase consideration. All of our efforts are tied closely to the company’s business goals and we are well connected throughout the enterprise, as a coordinated effort is key to our success. My team oversees and coordinates efforts on the company’s major social channels - Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Scribd, Google+, etc. - and works on larger programs, such as blogger relations, auto shows, major event integrations, staff training and development, governance of social media globally, and constant triaging of consumer feedback to the appropriate teams within the company.
As you can imagine, there are quite a few meetings to coordinate these efforts as we need to be aligned as a team; the internal portion of my job (versus the public facing aspect) probably accounts for about 85% of my time. The result is an executive leadership team that is aware and supportive of our efforts and is now focused on how to bring this to the next level within the company.
Tom: Peter Shankman caused quite a stir recently when he posted his rant “Why I will Never Ever Hire a ‘Social Media Expert’” and went on to say it’s just one more media to fall under marketing. What are your thoughts on this argument?
Scott: I agree with him. I dislike the terms “expert,” “guru,” and so many other that are attached to the social media niche. Peter is spot-on: it’s about understanding the underlying business, marketing and communications goals and strategies and knowing when to use different tactics. While the tools are getting a lot of the focus, it’s absolutely essential that we understand the fundamentals of business and human nature so we can act and think accordingly. This stuff isn’t rocket science.
Tom: I noticed you tweeted quite a bit even while you were on vacation last week, and that you do keep your own blog where you carefully point out that the opinions are your own. It seems to me that it’s very hard to balance work and personal whether you are in charge of social media for your company or just a regular employee. What are your thoughts on this dilemma?
Scott: The blurring of lines between personal and private is becoming more of a reality - most articles about Facebook and Google have some mention of privacy issues. And I’ve long said (in a nod to Andy Warhol) that “in the future, we’ll all have 15 minutes of privacy.” While many people are oversharing, there are settings to keep certain things to certain groups of people - something I think Google+ is doing extraordinarily well with their Circles.
At Ford, we have a plainly written and easily understandable set of guidelines for our employees with regard to social media. You can read it yourself at http://bit.ly/fordguidelines. It’s really matter of knowing that you represent a company, even in your private life, and that while you need to clearly state that they are your own opinions, people will still associate you with your company - whether you’re on Twitter, a discussion forum or backyard barbecue.
Tom: I’m sure you’re well aware of the Chrysler social media fiasco earlier this year when a social media agency employee accidentally dropped the F-Bomb on the @MotorCity twitter account and was fired, as was subsequently the agency in question. It seems most Twitter fans felt this was a gross over reaction. What are your thoughts on how this was handled?
Scott: I think it was the official @Chrysler Twitter handle, actually. The decision to terminate this particular employee was something between him and his employer, so I can’t really comment on that. What I will say is that it feeds directly into my answer above; if this employee were behaving in a respectful way, regardless of which account he was logged into, he wouldn’t have found himself in that situation.
Tom: I know this is a bit broad, but where do you see social media heading to in general, and specifically in marketing. Is it a bubble?
Scott: The tools and technologies are here to stay and we’ll see them continuously evolve. People want to connect, they want to be able to share and have their voices heard. What I think needs to be watched very closely are the valuations of some of these companies as they prepare for IPOs. We’re getting giddy all over again (remember the dot com bubble?) and the financial markets and investors need to apply some common sense to their outlook.
Tom: How does measurement or traditional marketing research fit into what you do, if at all?
Scott: We’re constantly looking at trends and analyzing what makes sense for our program and how it ties together with the larger efforts. Social media measurement is still in its infancy, and we have monitoring and measurement systems that support a variety of needs - as there’s no one-size fits all approach. Customer service, marketing and communications have different dashboards that we follow and we try to share as many insights as possible. It’s still developing and we’re going to continue to tweak our systems to reflect our needs.
Tom: Can you give me 3 quick and easy super social media tips?
1. Read Mashable to stay current on all aspects of social media. They’ve broken the site into different sections, like business & marketing, tech & gadgets, mobile, etc. so you should be able to follow at least one section that relates to your industry or area of interest.
2. Find the one or two social networks that work for you, either personally or professionally. It’s hard to spend quality time on many sites, and you’re going to be more likely to have an impact on one that you relate to or that your customers are on.
3. Start by listening. I don’t care if it’s a paid system or good old freebies like Twitter search or Google Alerts. You need to know what people are saying about the topics you care about. By getting a good sense of what they’re talking about and where they’re saying it, you’ll be better prepared to take action.
Thank You Scott!