Social media is about technology and techniques. These techniques and technology help us engage people to create deep relationships. The deep relationships created by social media are a tool that a modern marketer uses to insulate themselves from error. Marketing is about making bets in the market place. The size of social media allows a marketer to make better bets. Black Media When social media is used properly, the relationships created by engagements insulate a marketer from error. A marketer now can rely on the wisdom of many instead of just himself. There is a wisdom to crowds that insulates from error. Two example of this are Albert Sloan of General Motors in1923 and Alan Mullally of Ford Motor Company in 2011. Both of these CEO’s from different eras used the wisdom of crowds to make critical bets that repositioned their brands and insulated themselves and their companies from error.
Both of these CEOs came from a different era. They both used the social media of their era to adjust to the speed of their markets. This adjustment allowed them to understand the paradigm shifts in their markets that allowed them to adjust and to reposition their products so that they were able to create a brand that was unable for their opponent to compete against.
Henry Ford was autocratic and he made the important decisions for Ford in the early ’20s. Alfred Sloan at General Motors organized executive committees to collaborate and make the important decisions after deep group discussion. This set up has great impact General Motors to this day. General Motors needed a luxury brand to offset Ford. Sloan had two choices, either the Seville or this thing called Cadillac. Seemingly from a cost standpoint the Seville had a cost advantage. There was a committee meeting that changed everything.
The manager of Cadillac, Nicholas Dreystadt, told the committee that Cadillac had an image with black professionals, which was an important niche market for General Motors, that other managers weren’t aware of. Black professionals purchased Cadillac as a symbol of their success. Because of this all blacks desired to purchase a Cadillac, even if they couldn’t afford it. This created a brand for GM among all blacks, a demographic that now becoming important. This information could only be developed through group discussion. It was not information that was common in the general car business. Cadillac was selected, and it is a major GM brand to this day.
In our modern era, General Motors had a technology that Ford had no answer to. It was a patented technology that was only available on General Motor products. The emergence of social media allowed Ford to create a technology that has repositioned the modern automobile market.
Ford’s C.E.O Allan Mulalley ordered his Vice Presidents to embrace social media as a means to communicate with the customers of their markets. This has given Ford a great deal of information and insight that they would never have developed on their own.
In talking with customers and in studying the technology, a Ford Vice-President, Doug Van Dagens, made a prescient observation. He observed that General Motors technology originated inside the car. Social media is about taking your technology and connecting to other devices. This is what Ford has decided to do with its newest models. With the newer Fords, a customer brings their devices with them, and plugs them into the Ford.
Ford had made a major breakthrough in the area of texting. You hook up to a panel, activate voice recognition, dictate your text, and that text is sent out, safely.
Ford has repositioned the car. It is no longer a mechanism of transportation. The car is now a social media platform. Social media is fast markets. Embracing it has allowed Ford to adjust to the speed of the market.