December 8, 2009

Radian6 and the Yellow Brick Road for brands

A chat with the CEO of Radian6 from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

CEO Marcel LeBrun on how companies should listen, monitor and engage with customers

JD LasicaI‘m still getting out from under the atomic dustbin that is my home office. It’s been an insanely busy year, from the relaunch of as a distributed consulting firm to the launch of as a nonprofit learning hub to my organizing the Traveling Geeks trip to London last July, so I’m just now getting to a number of fantastic video interviews I should have published weeks ago.

I sat down with Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6, the well-respected social media monitoring company — he calls it “a listening and engagement platform,” which is an apt way to describe it — at the 140 Character conference in New York. Another in Jeff Pulver’s Twitter-centric 140 Character conference series is taking place in Tel Aviv today.

radian6“More and more com­pa­nies are real­iz­ing that the social Web is trans­form­ing how they inter­act with cus­tomers.”
— Marcel LeBrun
CEO, Radian6

Often, brands start out by trying to use interruption-based push marketing approaches on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t work. “More and more companies are realizing that the social Web is transforming how they interact with customers,” LeBrun says. “They’re starting to listen to those conversations and engage.”

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

In our chat, LeBrun describes the Yellow Brick Road for brands — a five-step strategy that companies should apply when entering the realm of social media:

Step 1 is listening. Your brand becomes the sum of the conversations about your company.

Step 2 is where you move to the responding stage. “You need to let people know that you’re listening,” LeBrun says.

Step 3 is where you move into full participation once you understand what your customers are saying about you.

Step 4 is the stage in which you tell your story. “You give people a glimpse into the passion behind your vision and the people behind your company,” he says. Continue reading

November 9, 2009

How Ford does social media

Ford’s social media efforts from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Scott Monty & team take integrated approach rather than focus on short-term campaigns

JD LasicaMajor corporations have begun jumping into the social media pool. One of the biggest success stories this year has been the performance of Ford Motor Co. — they’re making big waves but aren’t splashing around, thanks to the integrated approach taken by Scott Monty, head of social media, who joined Ford only in the summer of 2008.

I caught up with Scott shortly after his keynote chat with the Wall Street Journal’s Kara Swisher at Blogworld Expo. Their BWE conversation was largely inaudible, so this 6-minute interview serves as a quick synopsis of what Ford is up to in the space.

“It’s a commitment. It’s about changing about the business model and embracing it day in and day out.”
— Scott Monty

“We don’t think of social media at Ford in terms of campaigns,” Scott says, “because it’s a commitment. It’s about changing about the business model and embracing it day in and day out.”

From top to bottom, Ford has infused the company with the Zeitgest of social media — employees feel a connection with their customers and a sense of having skin in the game. Social media helps put a human face on the company. “It serves to remind people there are real human beings working at Ford Motor Co. who are passionate about great products,” he says.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Given Ford’s strong performance in recent months, including a $997 million third-quarter profit, several publications suggested that social media could be one of the key drivers of the company’s recent success. According to BusinessWeek, the automaker will spend 25% of their marketing budget on digital and social media this year.

Three weeks ago Ford won the Society for New Communications Research’s award for brand of the year for its “innovative use of social media to improve the way the company communicates with its stakeholders.” A couple of the notable social media programs Ford has launched include:

fiestmovementpicFiesta Movement: Ford has given 100 “socially vibrant” people on the Web a Ford Fiesta (including Sarah Austin of @pop17) for 6 months. The Fiesta is a European car that Ford will begin producing in the U.S. in 2010. The 100 “agents” get to do whatever they want — tweet, take photos or videos, blog — and Monty’s team aggregates the conversations on without editing it.

He adds: “At the end of 6 months they return the cars and we get real-time feedback from them that we’ve fed into our engineering team to make tweaks to the North American production version.” It’s a combination of crowdsourcing as well as digital buzz. “Ultimately what we’ve got is 50,000 hand-raisers who have seen the Fiesta online or in person who’ve said they want to know more about it when it comes out.” Fully 97 percent of those people do not currently drive Ford vehicles. Continue reading