Why Ford Believes in Google Plus

Depending on who you talk to, Google Plus is either a massive failure or the start of an entirely new Google that could reshape the Internet. Count Ford in the optimist camp, as it maintains a regularly updated Google Plus page and views the social advancements there as an important harbinger of what’s to come in search. Scott Monty, head of global digital communications at Ford, spoke to Digiday about why brands shouldn’t count out Google in social, how comparing Google Plus to Facebook is unfair and what’s resonating there with its almost 300,000 followers.

What are some of the opportunities that Ford sees with Google Plus?
We view Google Plus as a unique platform where we can share content that our fans want. We’ve taken the opportunity to ask them what they prefer to see from us there and we try to deliver on that. Beyond content though, we see the value in the tie to search results as Google turns on its social search function. This means that the Ford content that our fans share will be more widely seen by their peers in relevant search results.

How is Ford approaching the platform and how is this approach different from what the carmaker does on Facebook?
We don’t post the same information we post on Facebook; we owe our fans more than that. We’re posting original content, like archival photos or live video chats with our team members. The fans specifically asked for access to engineers, designers and other Ford employees with intimate knowledge of our products, so we’re arranging that.

What types of tactics are working best on Google Plus?
Anything visual works well, as people love to see the products. Video and photo content are strong performers, and, believe it or not, the simple ability to create bold and italic fonts has made it easier for people to engage with the content.

Do you see the platform becoming a real contender to Facebook? Why or why not?
I think the constant comparison to Facebook is not really relevant for Google Plus at this point. The platform is very nascent and has a fundamentally different approach to social than Facebook. Our plan is to interact with our fans in the way that makes sense on each platform. Ultimately, we hope to be able to have people categorized into Circles that make sense for them instead of us determining which Circles they belong in, which means we’ll be able to deliver custom content in a much more efficient way.

What metrics for success have Ford established with the Google Plus platform?
It’s fairly limited, as Google Analytics hasn’t yet been integrated into Google Plus. The only thing we have to go on at this point is the number of followers and the sharing of our content, seen by their Ripples function.