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Social media working for Ford

Galloping: Ford's Mustang has become the most liked car on Facebook and it is no coincidence that the initial run of 4000 Australian cars found buyers before the car had been launched.

Ford's future focus connecting more customers through expanding social media

21 Jan 2016

FORD says its customers are responding to its expanding social media campaign to reposition itself as the One Ford global brand in Australia as it transitions from manufacturer to full-line importer.

While most the Australian car-maker's audience has traditionally connected through websites and call-centre services, an increased use of social media platforms is said to be shifting customer behaviour.

Speaking at the local launch of the runaway success Mustang sportscar, Ford Motor Company of Australia communications manager Jasmine Mobarek told GoAuto that the eagerly awaited and iconic model had made social media history, highlighting the importance of the various platforms.

“Mustang is the most liked car on Facebook and 50 per cent of those likes come from outside of the US,” she said. “The channels and the doors it opens up for us to interact with our fans means there is huge potential there and it’s only going to make us better.”

In October this year, Ford will be the first of the three current local car-makers to close its manufacturing facilities, but since the announcement, the blue oval has been carefully considering how its brand will resonate with existing and potential new customers.

Ms Mobarek said that embracing social media channels was an important part of realigning the perception of Ford in Australia, and a method of communication that everyone could easily access.

“I think it’s a big part of our transformation plans so what we are helping people to understand is that Ford does have a future beyond October and that we are going to be the largest OEM employer in Australia in 2017,” she said.

“People are starting to see that.

“We have a team that manages our social media all day and we respond to everything that we can. It’s quick and its responsive, people can do it from their mobile phones.”

Despite social media being a relatively new method of communication, Ms Mobarek said the audience was diverse with both new and old Ford fans choosing to stay in touch with a variety of options.

“We have a really wide demographic. People make the assumption that it’s all young people on Facebook, but we have a definite skew from those carry-over fans. Instagram is a younger demographic but Facebook is more evenly spread.

“Instagram is a relatively new platform for us and we are seeing that grow steadily and Facebook is growing at a reasonably good rate.”

Ms Mobarek compared Ford's extensive and growing line-up to more esoteric brands and explained that the diverse range of products is good for customers but creates challenges for her team when trying to reach out to the various different types of Ford fans.

“It presents some unique challenges because we have everything from a Fiesta customer up to the high-performance guys and car nuts who are into ST and XR8, so it presents some new challenges. To be a successful brand and to be able to engage our customers, social media is an integral part of that.

“The fact that we have such a diverse range of products through a broad range of customer needs allows us to interact on more of a helicopter level than perhaps some other brands.

“It’s a work in progress but this year is going to be a really big one for us.

It’s constantly evolving.”

For now, the company's main social media concentration would continue to be on the brands attracting the most online attention, but as the social media landscape unfolds, Ms Mobarek said the various channels would target more customer niches.

“We do message testing and we get lots of feedback. We are getting really positive feedback on Ranger and Mustang on social media so that’s where we are focussing a lot.

“We are having to speak to ... customers in a new way and make sure that we respect them and give them what they are looking for.”

Ford's repositioning started with a significant advertising campaign in October 2014, which promoted the changing face of Ford and the introduction of a more diverse range of vehicles.

It was bolstered by another campaign to promote the growth of the Ford Performance brand following the closure of Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) after the final FPV GT-F in June 2014.

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