Big Brands in Social Media: Ford and Southwest Airlines

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by: Matt Rhodes

There are many examples of big brands in social media (in fact you can find a whole range across different industries in our online community examples), but at the Marketing 2.0 conference in Paris it was great to hear some real case studies from the people behind these strategies and campaigns.

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Two presentations that particularly stood out were from Scott Monty at Ford and Paula Berg from Southwest Airlines. Both have a strong history of customer engagement and have been, to some extent, pioneers in their use of social media and online communities. And both of their presentations were refreshing in terms of the information they shared. For me, four core themes came from what they said:

  1. It’s about people not firms – social media is about people engaging with people, and firms that want to engage with them all also need a personal touch. You should put faces on the individual people who make up your brand and let people see and engage with them. Of course, from the brand’s perspective it is best to do this is a way that is sustainable even when the individuals leave the firm.
  2. Make things public – social media is a about sharing and it provides a real platform for firms to share their knowledge and information. In fact, Scott Monty told us that Ford, as part of its social media strategy, shared with the public anything that used to appear on its intranet that was not commercially sensitive. This seems to be a great approach – social media and online communities are about openness and honesty. Brands who are open and honest will be most successful.
  3. Connect with people where they are already – don’t make it difficult for people to find and connect with your brand. Rather provide them a route, a way to connect with you. As Scott Monty said “every obstacle we put in the way closes a distribution channel”. The best examples of social media marketing, and the best online communities also engage people where they are – be that on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or blogs. They engage them and then provide an easy route for them to engagement.
  4. Provide a place for people to go to – whilst engaging people where they are is important, you need to provide something for them to do once you have engaged them and the best examples of big brands in social media provide a place for these people to go to. An online community, web site or other activity that you drive people to where they can really engage with you on a site that you provide and where you benefit from the engagement as much as the consumer does.

Read all of our posts based on the Marketing 2.0 Conference here

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