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  1. March 7, 2010 11:40 am

    Jeff — Wow. An excellent analysis here. Thanks for pointing to my stuff.

    Having met personally both Scott Monty (Ford) and Christopher Barger (GM), I can say that both companies have good people at the front end doing an excellent job.

    However, what I am seeing for the future for all companies is how they can transform social media marketing from a handful of celebrity types like Christopher and Scott who work in Detroit to a corporate culture of engagement that cuts across thousands of employees and dealers around the world. That’s the challenge for 2010 and beyond.



  2. March 7, 2010 11:46 am

    Hi Jeff. A couple of points I thought you might want to be aware of:

    1) Michael Wiley hasn’t worked for General Motors since November of 2006. He’s been at Edelman since then. So the interviews with Michael you’re citing are at least 3 1/2 years old — eternity in terms of social media evolution. I suspect that if we look at interviews from 2006 from virtually any company then involved on the social web, you’d probably see a very different strategy reflected than those they’re following today. It’s kind of like citing an interview with an ABC, NBC or CBS executive before the advent of cable networks, and then using it to criticize their performance in the YouTube/Hulu/IPTV era.

    2) I’d invite you to follow along over the next two weeks at (also found on as eight teams from across the USA embark on a road trip competition on their way to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and conference in Austin TX. They’ll be completing 50 ‘amazing race’ styled challenges — challenges that were crowdsourced, as they were all submitted to either @chevrolet or to one of the eight teams’ Twitter feeds or lifetsreams — and the content that you’ll find on Chevy’s Facebook page & on will be almost entirely submitted by these teams, not Chevrolet or GM. For the next week anyway, nearly all of the content on Chevy’s Facebook main page will be coming from audience members — not generated by Chevrolet. The fun starts tomorrow (Monday March 8).

    I realize that the image of “GM bureaucracy” is a very easy thing to fall back on for people who don’t want to like us in the first place. But comparing interviews done more than 3 years ago with people who aren’t even in our organization anymore… to things done last year by another manufacturer? That doesn’t really seem fair, does it?

    Since I have an audience-driven program taking place literally as your post appeared in my Google Alerts, I thought you might want to be aware of it and follow along. Either way, I appreciate you hearing me out. Thanks, and have a good rest of the weekend.

    Christopher Barger, Director Social Media, General Motors

    • March 7, 2010 10:27 pm

      Hi Chris. Thanks for your comment and the update on GM’s new and continuing efforts in social media. I will certainly follow along and check into the and Facebook activities over the next few weeks. It looks like it could be a lot of fun and I am sure you will be monitoring it closely and enjoying the ride! Cheers

  3. March 7, 2010 1:43 pm

    And that’s exactly what we’re working on at Ford, David. 🙂

    Jeff, thanks for the astute analysis and for the kind words about Ford. We’ve still got a long way to go, but with a staunch group of brand advocates behind us, we’re well positioned to keep the momentum of focusing on great products, strong business and a better world.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

  4. March 7, 2010 8:24 pm

    How awesome that both Christopher and Scott both commented. Scott, will you be at SXSW? I want to get a photo with both of you for my blog. Kinda like those photos people sometimes score with more than one former US President at a time!

  5. March 7, 2010 10:18 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    As always enjoyed your post, and especially as I am somewhat of a car buff!

    Just to reinforce what was said in your post, the below linked review of Ford CEO Allan Mulally from one of our bloggers @GlenGilmore from the @TheSocialCMO crew provides additional support for your premise on current status.

    Thanks again!



  6. March 8, 2010 12:43 am

    Great article. I’ve always wondered why the big three ignore classics car enthusiasts. I think supporting older car owners online, not only does this go along way to building brand loyalty, but also adds to the resale value of cars in the long run, if second owners know they can find support online.

  7. March 8, 2010 3:05 pm

    Great post highlighting a key element and ingredient to achieving success with social media. The big take away for me with respect to this post is the importance and the benefit of creating social media campaigns that allow your audience, customers, clients, etc. provide the content. Of course listening closely and interacting will facilitate identifying which and what campaigns make the most sense.

    Thank you Jeff for your astute insight.

  8. March 9, 2010 4:04 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Guess I’m last in . . . for now! I do hope you’ll follow @Chevrolet and everything we’re doing at SXSW. If you’re going to be there, let me know and we can meet — David — same for you! Would be a good conversation for sure and am always interested in ideas and perspectives.

    I agree that as a company we’re not where we should be, but I’m proud of the progress we’re making each day. Our goal is to train as many employees as possible, not to mention areas within our company, to get engaged on the social web. In other words, give them permission that some feel they need to post a comment on a blog, or to send a Tweet about something we’re doing. We’re also continuing to host webchats on our website with consumers. In fact, GM NA President Mark Reuss is hosting a consumer chat on Thursday, March 11 at 1 p.m. Please join us!

    As far as the control “thing,” as a communications profession, we need to get over the fact that we can’t and shouldn’t be with every expert who comments. That wasn’t true in the old day — we’d sit in all the interviews, etc. Our employees are our most knowledgeable advocates and having them reach out, and participate in conversations is a good thing. You also may want to check out our customer service team on Twitter @GMCustomerSvc. They’re proactively monitoring conversations on our Facebook pages as well as on Twitter. There have been a few blog posts already from happy consumers.

    Thanks for our post and interest.

    Mary Henige
    Director, Social Media & Digital Communications
    General Motors

    • March 10, 2010 2:38 am

      Hi Mary

      Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to write a comment. I look foward with interest to seeing more of GM’s efforts in the social media space and especially the latest Chevy road trip social media competition. I will not be at SXSW, which is a shame as it would have been great to catch up for a chat.

      The interest shown by my readers about how major brands are using Social Media has been surprsing and welcome and I am sure that GM’s various endeavours with social media will continue to generate a high degree of attention, especially as car brands seem to generate such emotional involvement and passion.

      I look forward to hearing more from you and the the team as this social media landscape unfolds.

      Cheers Jeff

  9. rbnolan permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:04 am

    A nice analysis, Jeff. And thanks for linking to my blog on Ford. I have had a particular interest in the US auto companies going back a long time. It has been hard for them to “let go” and let the community drive the messaging.
    I think they are “getting” it. At least David Meerman Scott’s comments give me some hope there.
    There was a time when Ford and GM were world leaders in marketing. The lessons have to trickle down so that everybody in marketing and customer-facing jobs is involved.

  10. stanleyyork permalink
    April 28, 2010 1:26 pm

    Regardless of the specific content and opinions posted here, glad to see the open/honest conversation. As a Detroit native, looking forward to the bright future of our city and companies. Nice article, Jeff.

    Stanley Stevens

  11. April 28, 2010 4:00 pm

    Thanks for this analysis. And kudos to the appropriate Ford and GM social media reps for commenting. It makes the analysis more complete.

    I’ve been doing my best to explore these two campaigns (Fiesta Movement and ChevySxSW), and learn and share what I can about them. They’re both groundbreaking in their own rights. But they also seem very telling about the corporate culture behind them. From the outside, there appears to be an important, fundamental gulf between the two efforts. And it’s reflective of what the companies think of themselves… going all the way back to Henry and Louis-Joseph.

    I would consider the Ford effort crowdsourcing, and the Chevy effort curation. The Ford effort was “by the people for the people.” The Chevy effort was “by the company for the company.” Ford reached out to the crowd to find agents and to build content that was aggregated—raw—on a site. Chevy reached out to pro-bloggers to control the situation and curate content.

    The Ford effort was both riskier and more powerful (and in some respects, more destined to succeed because of those traits). The Chevy effort was far safer and therefore not nearly as far reaching, impactful, or lasting. (Though time and sales will truly tell how this tale ends.)

    Ford’s advertising efforts are reflecting the feel of this type of crowdsourced, people-focused, digital effort — focusing on the intersection of the people and the product. Chevy’s advertising still feels like it’s touting features without a personal connection in sight.

    (And before these efforts, Ford dug a hole for themselves and decided to pull themselves out whereas GM chose to climb up our backs to get out.)

    Again, I applaud both companies for the effort. I’ll be eagerly watching to see what the companies try next… and how that effects both Ford’s and Chevy’s recovery. And, again, thanks for the post.



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