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11/2/2012
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Ford Seeks Social Business Strategy

Ford Motor Co. is a pioneer in social media marketing and a proponent of enterprise social networking. But its plan for a unified social business strategy is still a work in progress.

"When you think about it, we encourage them to talk friends and families and neighbors in real life, analog life, all the time," Monty said. "Now we're simply doing the same thing on a digital level, rather than on an analog level."

Krebs said Ford probably can't embrace this concept quite as fully as companies like Best Buy, which is famed for encouraging employees to troubleshoot consumer technical support questions on Twitter. If a Ford engineer handed out ideas on vehicle modifications that turned out to be dangerous, the company wouldn't want to be liable, he said.

"What Scott is leading is more an ambassador program, where we're working out how Ford employees can talk about Ford, not as an official spokesperson but as proud employees," Krebs said. There are other "fairly straightforward" social media contexts, such as participating in professional groups on LinkedIn, where Ford is advising employees on what they can and can't say in those forums, he said. "We're right on the cusp of being able to do some of that in a more dramatic way."

So is Ford a leader or a laggard? Maybe a little of both, Krebs said. "We've got a lot of elements that are well thought out, where I think we're ahead of where a lot other companies are. But just like any other large company, we've got a bigger risk footprint. We may move slower than much smaller companies, or companies in different industries, but that's ok."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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