Ford Says Social Media Advertising Showing Returns

Your favorite local dive or hole-in-the-wall restaurant may find social media as a cheap (or free) alternative to paying a large and expensive advertising agency to promote its wears. Large corporations have also embraced social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to help promote their brands too.

Although it may be difficult to measure the return on investing in social media for advertising, Ford's director of marketing communications, Matt Van Dyke, told The Detroit News that social media use has created a “greater awareness of new vehicles and proving to be money well spent.” Social media experiments such as the Fiesta Movement and using Facebook to introduce the new unibody Ford Explorer seems to be paying off for the automaker.

Ford started the Fiesta Movement in 2009 -- two years before the car’s on-sale date in the U.S. – by picking people around the U.S. to test drive Euro-spec Fiestas and post their experiences and videos with the cars for others to learn about the new model. The Fiesta Movement preceded Ford’s mass media advertising of the new for the U.S. sub-compact. Ford invested millions of dollars bringing more than 100 Fiestas from Europe as well as the costs to develop the six-month project.

"In that case, we were able to generate proven awareness, favorable opinion and consideration that we are able to assign dollar values to," said Van Dyke, figuring the car received five times the exposure as a traditional advertising campaign.

Ford also used Facebook, instead of the traditional auto show, to unveil the new Explorer, claiming the Explorer Facebook page went from 7000 visits to more than half-a-million the day it was revealed.

Ford’s use of social media has been to generate “buzz” for new vehicles before they hit the market according to Van Dyke saying, “We need to broaden that approach. For example, we are experimenting with user reviews of current customers on our Fusion vehicle homepage."

Marketing executives are also considering live chats with consumers months after a new Ford [or Lincoln] is released.

Van Dyke says the automaker won’t abandon traditional print advertising saying, “The challenge for publishers is better and better integration, not "special advertising" sections.”

Does social media promotion affect your consideration or purchase decisions when looking at a new car? Please share your thoughts below.

Source: The Detroit News

The problem with marketers is that they always take credit for sales successes, and credit the marketing campaigns, and not the vehicle design. This is why at most car companies, marketing guys make a lot more than engineers. It's as if the actual car doesn't matter. You can tweet, facebook, etc. all you want, no one will buy a Chevy Volt. A good car design does not need advertisement.

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