Does A Social Business Always Deliver the Best Customer Engagement?

Does A Social Business Always Deliver the Best Customer Engagement?

A few weeks ago, Peter Kim wrote a post about his trip to Ford. He mentioned a few different times that Ford’s initiative of inviting external influencers – several different bloggers from countries including Canada, Germany and China was a bold move and that it was a great example of how Ford delivers on being a social business. I agree.

Opening the doors behind the firewall to external people and being open to feedback is certainly one attribute of a social business along with operational elements like communication, connections and culture as Peter mentions.

I have always had this philosophy that a social business enables a brand to communicate more effectively with customers, partners, employees etc. and as Peter says “scale” programs such as Ford’s initiative earlier this month. That being said, a natural conclusion of Ford being a social business is that their external engagement initiatives are second to none.

However, a recent report by Visibli, a real-time analytics platform shows otherwise. Visibli analyzed  the top 5 auto brands to see which one of them is most engaging on Twitter, and how they do it. Some of the findings include:

  • Honda is more engaging on Twitter than Ford and rest of ‘big auto.’
  • Honda does it by targeting the right followers — 45% of their followers are interested in auto-related content, higher than any of the other brands
  • Contrary to popular ‘best practice,’ almost 100% of Honda’s tweets are auto-related. Zero variety … but it works!

Other than owning a Honda Civic many, many years ago, I have zero visibility into Honda as a company. Are there social business initiatives happening behind the firewall? Are teams collaborating and engaging internally? I really don’t know and I don’t know anyone who works there. But here are a few considerations:

  • This is one study from one vendor; and one could argue that a retweet is not an accurate measure of engagement OR at least the the only measure of engagement
  • Perhaps Ford is still early on in their journey of social business transformation per Chris Carfi from Ants Eye View.
  • It could very well be that Honda just has a stellar marketing team (or agency) and utilizes real-time analytics to provide extremely relevant content to the community – the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right customer.
  • Increased customer engagement is only one output of a social business – other outputs include an increase in employee engagement, increase in employee productivity, efficiency and sales; innovation, collaboration, etc.

Image: StockFresh Speedometer

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • Saif Ajani

    Thanks for referencing the report in your post, Michael. 

    You raise great questions, and certainly many of them that we don’t have answers to. Rather than implying causation, our goal was to note the correlation between RTs, follower interests, and content strategy. With this, we were hoping to ignite discussion, and I believe the considerations you outline do just that. 

    If we ever did get our hands on Honda’s and Ford’s internal marketing insights (one can dream!), it would be interesting to see how their social audience compares to their real-life target demographics. Additionally, scaling Honda’s strategy might prove difficult once it gets to Follower numbers near Ford’s. 

    All food for thought, but hopefully worthwhile discussions. Thanks again for posting!

    CEO, Visibli

  • Judy Caroll

    Hi Michael,

    Very interesting!  Social business is no longer another “channel” where businesses can sell more stuff. It’s now a great way to increase customer engagement, improve customers relationships and increase productivity.

    Thanks for sharing,


  • Michael Brito

    Thanks Saif. Really good report. Would love for you to share additional insights when they are available about “auto” an other topics as well.

  • Michael Brito

    You are absolutely right Judy! Thanks for the comment.

  • Sasha Jones

    No doubt that social media enables a brand to communicate more effectively with customers, partners, employees etc.

  • Michael Brito

    Thanks Sasha.

  • SEOgear

    Thank you very much to the author for the article. I would like to say that the lack of understanding of the value of work in social media, underestimating them as a channel of communication, lack of timely information about performance can bury even the most successful undertakings.