Ford apparently scored a first with Twitter's nascent advertising platform by running an ad generated by a regular tweeter rather than the company.
Rather than run ad copy in a Promoted Tweet, Ford contacted social media consultant Mack Collier to ask permission to use his tweet directing readers to a complimentary blog post he wrote about Ford. Collier wrote about a video response Ford CMO Jim Farley (pictured) gave to a question he submitted asking if the carmaker had seen tangible cost reductions in social media.
The Promoted Tweet read, "Ford CMO Jim Farley says social media has led to 'massive cost savings' for the automaker," with a shortened URL link to Collier's blog post on the subject.
The move is part of an experiment of how best to use Twitter's six-month-old advertising service, according to Scott Monty, global digital communications manager at Ford.
"We want to demonstrate it's not just us saying this about us and other people are calling us out," he said, comparing it to advertising that blurbs auto review publications.
Ford didn't pay Collier and does not have a business relationship with him, Monty added.
Ford is an active user of social media. Its launch of the Ford Fiesta was nearly entirely done through social channels. It is taking a similar approach with the upcoming Focus Rally: America, which melds social media with The Amazing Race for an interactive road rally that features the new Ford Focus.
"We were able to get some cost savings out of the Fiesta movement," Monty said. "We'll probably see a similar thing here."
Ford has used both Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets. The volume can be small, particularly with a Promoted Tweet, Monty said, although engagement rates have been above 8 percent. (The tweet touting Collier's blog post generated just 411 impressions, according to Collier.)
"It's not thousands upon thousands," he said. "[But] for the money we're spending, it's a great value."
Collier, who says he's not a Ford customer, was impressed the automaker tried the approach of amplifying the voice of someone outside the company.
"I think that's a pretty damn gutsy move on Ford's part," he wrote on his blog. "And if Ford is willing to start promoting non-company content, it suggests to me that the company must be very satisfied with the results it has seen from previous social media efforts, to be willing to spend money promoting third-party content."
See also: "Ford's Farley in Focus"