Last month, Ford chief marketing executive James Farley said that by year’s end, the American car company will have spent a hefty 25% of its annual marketing budget on digital and social media. Today, Ford made a stunning announcement: a third-quarter net income of $997 million.
Coincidence? Maybe, but not likely. Ford has long been one of the most prominent “traditional” corporations in the social media marketing sphere. Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media, is a familiar face on television and YouTube, and a well-recognized blogger and tweeter. In May, a statistical analysis by Mashable.com found that Monty had succeeded in giving Ford a much stronger and more personal social media presence than that of other U.S. automakers.
Monty has also been involved in creative social media marketing campaigns that have yielded truly eye-catching results. The most notable example is the Fiesta Movement, in which 100 people were given Fiestas in exchange for sharing their experiences on blogs, video sites, and social networking sites. As of October, the campaign had made 11 million social networking impressions. And though the Ford Fiesta has yet to be released in the U.S., Ford surveys have found that Gen Y awareness of the car is already on par with other Ford models that have benefited from multi-million dollar traditional marketing campaigns.
Cost cutting and Cash for Clunkers undoubtedly had major roles in Ford’s third-quarter success. Monty himself modestly attributes the numbers to a strong transformation plan and solid products. But if the combination of a sizeable social media marketing budget and unexpected profits continues, other automakers will need to seriously rev up their social media efforts.