Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

03 April 2009

Marketing 2.0 Paris: Deconstructing Scott Monty

One of my favourite Marketing 2.0 talks, besides the Paula Berg stuff, was by Scott Monty, Ford Motor Co.'s social media man.

The guy's been alternately lauded and lashed, but I think he's the real deal. It's not even just that he's a nice guy; he's not afraid to express a scathing truth from top-of-mind, even if it stings. Social media's all about that: finding out who people really are, before they can terrace their images.

I didn't take any video (bummer), but I'll let you in on a priceless moment during his Q/A, when Sandrine Plasseraud of We Are Social asked about ROI tracking for social media campaigns.

Monty scoffs and goes, "ROI is a campaign metric; social media is a commitment. [...] What's the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning?"

Later, Plasseraud pointed out Monty can say that kind of stuff because he happens to have the kind of freedom most enterprise social media practitioners lack. Soc-med lackeys typically fall under a more traditional micro manager -- and micro managers always want metrics.

That may be the case, but the guy's no tyrant. And considering the power Ford's given him to do what he likes, he's certainly not out of touch. To start with, he's always accessible via Twitter -- no matter who you are.

And while he knows the Ford brand gets undeserved flak, he doesn't behave defensively. Most of his current efforts are about getting people that haven't tried a Ford in the last five years to try one now, for free -- the better for dispelling old brand perceptions.

I found him alone in the break room shortly after his talk, and upon seeing me he actually put his BlackBerry down and shot the breeze for 20 minutes. However much it rang, he didn't look at it once. (Not even my mom does that.)

This time last year Monty was working with Crayon. Ford approached him for the social media gig, but he turned it down. (Crayon was stretched thin at the time, and frankly, he didn't want to move to Detroit.)

A month or so later, they approached him again. His name keeps coming up, they said, so why not come down to Detroit to get a feel for the culture?

Monty did. He did some reading and went down to home base -- then positively fell in love with what he found. (His eyes light up when he says this.) Ford's a legacy brand: people, their children and their children's children ascend its ranks. And it's not just about that: the loyalty, and the talent just waiting to be tapped, moved him.

So he accepted. And now he sits in his chair and sort of fidgets, looking giddy like a kid. While we chat, some guy walks over and expresses gushy praise for his presentation; Monty grins, turns back to me and says "I will never get used to that" in this down-home, aw-shucks sorta way.

But small-town vibe aside, Monty's also painfully practical. When I expressed interest in Ford's refusal to take government bailout cash, he nodded gravely and said something to the effect of, "People are happy with us now because of that, but we can't ride that sentiment for long. We have to keep moving."

Hear, hear.

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