Ford builds fan-driven, personalized social media site

The automaker mixes user articles, photos, and videos with its own corporate content at the Ford Social site, in hopes of creating a fully integrated community.

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“Your Stories” and “Your Ideas” are afforded the same prominence as “Our Articles.” And the “Images” and “Videos” tabs aren’t even split into corporate or user content. Everything mixes together.

Site visitors “are interested in that content equally, so we try to weight it equally,” says Karen Untereker, Ford’s U.S. manager of social media.

The site didn’t start out that way. Over a few years, it went from a site geared toward telling Ford’s story from a corporate perspective to one that makes the voices of Ford’s fans just as important. The shift has paid off. Users have earned more than 1 million badges in the 18 months or so the site has existed. It’s created thousands and thousands of advocates.

A gradual change

Before it was Ford Social, the website was (that URL now redirects to Ford Social). The site launched about four years ago, just as Ford’s competitors were accepting huge loans from the federal government. The U.S. automotive industry as a whole was in a serious bind, financially and in terms of reputation.

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