Case Study: Setting Content Free at Ford Motor Company

Marketing & Community
Location: 2006 Level:
Average rating: ***..
(3.29, 17 ratings)

In the automotive industry, images of vehicles are prized and valuable – traditionally, only a select few accredited automotive journalists have access to them via registration-required media websites. Similarly, many large global firms treat their marketing and communications assets as product to be tightly controlled and distributed by request only, whether out of habit or fear of unflattering mashups.

In 2007, Ford Motor company, one of the largest companies in the world, recognized that in an environment where everyone is a publisher, this model simply no longer made sense. Opportunities to help online content producers start conversations and tell richer, better informed stories were being lost because, for the most part, bloggers and others were not encouraged or interested in looking for the door to the walled garden.

On the flip side, while everyone outside the enterprise is a publisher, so is everyone inside. Dozens of organic digital content projects were popping up within Ford – from “semi official” YouTube channels to small-scale, one-off sharing of images and other content with enthusiast groups. A thousand points of light, not focused enough to truly illuminate or accomplish anything.

In this case study, Scott Monty, Ford’s Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager, Social Media and Maggie Fox, CEO of Social Media Group, Ford’s social media Agency of Record, describe the process and platforms Ford brought into play to aggregate their digital content and transform the walled garden into a firehose of Creative-Commons licensed assets available for use by anyone who was interested in talking about the company or their brands – good or bad.

  • The blending of old and new – how the content has been used by MSM, new media, bloggers and enthusiasts, and how the lines are blurring between them
  • How having an aggregated outlet brought teams together via their content – creating and strengthening a community of interest around social media/asset sharing/digital storytelling within Ford
  • The benefits of using third-party platforms rather than building or buying proprietary video and image hosting applications
  • Integrating with existing efforts; if you build it, they will not necessarily come
  • Getting traditional media to wrap their heads around RSS
  • Creative Commons – what did legal have to say about it?
  • The outcome – anticipated and unanticipated benefits, including an unsolicited placement in Wired magazine shortly after Chris Anderson’s infamous “Blacklist” post

We’ll discuss the platforms used in detail, as well as provide hard success metrics. This initiative, started in September 2007, has generated thousands of unsolicited conversations in the form of blog posts and other online content, a core measure of success in communications and marketing.

Photo of Maggie Fox

Maggie Fox

Social Media Group

Maggie Fox is the founder and CEO of, one of the world’s largest independent agencies helping business navigate the new socially engaged Web. Widely acknowledged as industry-leading pioneers, SMG has created and executed social media strategies for Ford Motor Company, SAP, Yamaha Motor and Harlequin Publishing.

Maggie is a communications and content expert who has never met a medium she didn’t like. Over the course of her career, she has led teams that have marketed, written and produced television and web content for some of the biggest and best-known brands in North America, including Sears, Deloitte and Disney. Maggie is often asked to speak to the press and business groups about the importance and use of social media in the enterprise.

Scott Monty

Ford Motor Company

Scott Monty heads up social media at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. Until recently, he was Consigliere for crayon, a strategic advisory group specializing in conversational marketing. Scott has been on the cutting edge of the marketing field for some time, having written the internationally recognized Social Media Marketing Blog at since 2006.

Scott also plies his trade in his personal interests. He writes the Baker Street Blog and co-hosts and produces the first podcast for Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.

And as if that’s not enough, Scott’s excellent sense of humor is clearly evident in his voice over talent that spans from “the movie announcer guy” to practically the entire cast of The Simpsons. He regularly puts his wit, curiosity and generous spirit to use on Twitter as @scottmonty and contributes to his various online communities as much as life will allow.

When he’s not tethered to the computer, Scott spends time with his wife and two young sons in the suburbs of southeastern Michigan.

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Picture of Michael Smith
Michael Smith
04/02/2009 3:29am PDT

This was fairly interesting but seemed a little chock-full of self promotion, rather than instruction.

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