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With Ford Motor Company being a leader in the social media space, one local automotive dealer took this opportunity to the next level to see how social media could drive more business on the local level as well.

For Georgia dealer, Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury, we created an exclusive Facebook-only promotion for our Fans – Become a Fan of our Page and get a Free Oil Change. The promotion was simple in execution and ran for approximately 4 months, but became a highly effective marketing tool for driving tangible business for the dealership.

The results:

10x increase in Facebook Fans
One goal of our promotion was to increase the number of Facebook Fans. The point of note here was the rapid acceleration of growth, going from an average of 21 new Fans each month to 237 Fans during the promotional period. Talk about kick-starting a program that had plateaued.

Immediate 2 to 1 ROI, with long-term ROI of more than 10 to 1
The question of social media and ROI always comes into play, though the medium itself is cost-effective by nature, some retailers cringe at the thought of “free” giveaways.  This dealership took the gamble with no qualms and quickly realized the potential of the promotion with an immediate 2 to 1 ROI and nearly $8,000 generated in additional service from those who came in simply for a free oil change.

9% revenue generated from 1st time customers
Of the additional revenue generated during the promotional period, 9% came directly from 1st time customers of the dealership, setting the stage for continued, long-term growth and re-visits.

The almighty referral factor
And, as we love to state, the power of referral again comes into play here. If referral is the surest form of long-term loyalty & satisfaction, then we found a homerun with this Facebook promotion.  Targeting the local market, the spread became a powerful one with at 300% growth in unaided Interactions with viral spread, positive word-of-mouth, and a wealth of new Zealots for the brand.

Has your social media program hit a plateau?  Looking to grow more Zealots for your brand? Contact Guest Relations Marketing for information on kick-starting your marketing program.

Companies with a limited marketing staff or one that has fewer than 100 employees simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to internally execute social media effectively.

So, what are the characteristics one should look for?  This may be surprising, but knowledge of the medium is less important than the following:  understanding your brand; what messages will invite conversation; who are the posters/readers; the experience/knowledge to respond on the fly.   Ford Motor Company is an excellent example of how to respond and engage readers.

Sage advice:  Resist the temptation to hand all of the social networking duties to that one young hipster in your office who appears to “get it.” Otherwise you risk losing control of your brand message and turning a meager publicity effort into a public embarrassment.

If you’re going to start a Facebook or Twitter account for your company, give the responsibility to someone with poise, maturity, and tact, and then give them the freedom to do it their own way and figure it out for themselves. Ignore the “rules,” avoid the “gurus,” and let common social courtesy be your guide.

Guest Relations Marketing
Transforming Prospects to Guests, and Guests to Zealots

Zealots identify with the vision, the mission, the underlying values of a brand.
They may like the product, but they love the emotion and character behind the product.   Consider a product or company you consider yourself a Zealot of.
Don’t they strike at something that is core to your beliefs or character?

Did I mention I became a Zealot of Ford Motor Company? The American auto manufacturer announced May 6 that they would be producing electric vehicles for their line, beginning in 2011.  On the same day, there was a news article noting that General Motors was “learning” from Chrysler’s bankruptcy actions. I definitely identify with the company busy reinventing itself versus the one looking for government bailout.

Another core value for me.   I believe in energy independence.  An electric car does that.  Electric is a clean fuel, especially if produced in nuclear plants.  The U.S. does not need a pipeline to the Middle East for electricity.  So, for me, Ford Motor Company is solving environmental issues, energy independence, and fueling (pun intended) foreign interests.

Why I will give Ford every benefit of the doubt when the electric vehicle is released.  And, add them to my list of Zealotry brands.

Guest Relations Marketing
Transforming Prospects to Guests, and Guests to Zealots

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