With everyone struggling to figure out how to use social media for marketing and advertising, it's obviously helpful to look at examples where a big company gets its right, demonstrating what can be done with an appropriate investment of time and money (and planning). Today, Ford hit the nail on the head with its "2011 Ford Explorer Reveal" on the Ford Explorer Facebook page. Let's take a quick tour of the multifaceted project.
First of all, Ford isn't treating the Facebook push as a mere adjunct to an official unveiling elsewhere -- this is the big "reveal," which usually takes place at the Detroit auto shows. Of course most people don't attend the Detroit auto shows, and press reports about the unveilings always tend to be a bit humdrum, at least in my opinion. They also don't do justice to individual models, lumping all the new vehicles together with scarcely a paragraph each.
While clearly unsatisfactory from the carmakers' perspective, in the days of broadcast media that was about all they could hope for. But Ford is using social media to give users an interactive, multimedia tour with videos, text and images on the Explorer's Facebook page, all anchored by live video of the "reveal" in New York City (taking place on an elaborate set recreating some wilderness getaway in the middle of the urban landscape -- very weird). These include celebratory mini-events with live music, etc. At the top of the page is a timeline, showing all the different real and virtual events taking place over the course of the day as part of the unveiling. Users can click on any of the previous times to see events that already happened.
Below that are a series of videos, some filmed ahead of time, some filmed live at unveiling events. The live events are hosted by Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery's "Dirty Jobs," who pokes around the new 2011 Ford Explorer with Ford CEO Alan Mulally. Mulally also appears in a pre-filmed Q&A. That's a gold star for Ford: recognizing that social media is supposed to feel "real," there are no anonymous actors or B-list celebrities taking a prominent role in the launch, but rather the guy who is responsible for the new model (facilitated by Rowe as the rugged media personality).
Meanwhile the pre-filmed video also includes a tour of the new Explorer with Mark Fields, president of Ford Americas, and Julie Levine, the Ford Explorer product manager, and a Q&A about the Explorer's "green" aspects with Sue Cischke, vice-president for sustainability environment and safety engineering (more gold stars for hitting hot-button issues, again with the actual executive in charge leading the discussion).