Scott Monty is leaving Ford after leading its social media efforts for six years, with a flair for innovation. It shouldn't be a total shock to those who know of Monty's devotion to Sherlock Holmes—he runs a news blog for the fictional detective—that the industry notable's next stop is a mystery.
Six years ago was 2008, when marketers for big brands such as the automotive giant were only starting to hear about Facebook from their kids. But Monty and Ford worked hard at staying ahead of the curve, debuting a Ford Explorer model in 2010 on Facebook and becoming the first brand on Google+ the next year.
Such moves—along with being highly active on Twitter—have made Monty something of a social media star. He has 105,000 Twitter followers, and the reaction to his announcement on the microblogging platform this morning speaks to his influence. (Scroll to read some of the tweets.)
Monty chatted with Adweek by phone today to address his departure.
You had noteworthy moments at Ford. What was your favorite initiative?
Rather than pick any single campaign, I think what really galvanized the entire team across Ford—and a lot of it happened through communications and the front line of digital and social work we did—was the crisis, at the height of the bailouts when the auto industry was in question. It's how our team banded together and was able to tell the Ford story, separating our company from the competition in the public's eye. And we haven't turned back since then.
So why leave now?
I just decided the time was right. I am going to take a little time with my family, and I am going to start on a new adventure pretty soon. I'll have more to say about that in the coming weeks.
With Mark Fields recently starting as CEO, some will speculate that the change in leadership might have something to do with your decision. What would be your reaction to that?
I would say Ford is in an excellent position to continue the leadership position it's had in the last eight years with [outgoing chief] Alan [Mulally]. It's an orderly transition. The same individuals are being kept in place. So it's not a leadership question.
You know exactly what you are going to do next?
No. Nice try, though. (Laughs.)
Where do you see social media heading after these last six years?
I think it's at a critical juncture right now. With all the commentary that's been going on about Facebook and the loss of organic reach, obviously, how the paid component to social evolves is critical. Outside of Ford and looking at the industry overall, it saddens me how social has been co-opted by marketing to become just another mass advertising/marketing channel. I think the promise of social is about relationship development, and I have always said that. All the talks I've given about Ford's progress has concentrated on attention and trust. While advertising can get you the attention by interrupting people, it's more important to build relationships with customers and other people you want to reach. And I think communications and marketing and customer service have to band together around social. Look at what came out of The New York Times last week. The entire Facebook presence of the Times has been abdicated to the business side, and the journalists don't have any say there. It's really important for these groups to come together and understand how they can actually play off of each other. I think that's where the future of social lies.
So are you, in part, saying earned trumps paid in terms of effectiveness?
When we think about our platforms, we always think of paid, earned, owned and—a new term we have started to use—rented. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube—we don't own those. We are using other people's property. So how we bring them all together and make them play appropriately is important. It's not about putting all of our eggs in one basket. And it's going to continue to get more complex before it gets easier.
Whoa...Ford’s digital communications chief Scott Monty in shock departure | The Drum http://t.co/hoYQfM5gh6— Angela Brown (@angelambrown) May 20, 2014