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90% of Social Media Is Showing Up; Now for the Tricky 10%

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Ninety percent of social media is showing up. The tricky part is the remaining 10%.

So says Mark Kleis, an auto enthusiast whom Ford selected as one of its 100 Fiesta “agents” to scoot around the U.S. in that new compact car and blog about their experiences as part of Ford’s active social-media marketing efforts.

As a big company, Ford pretty much has figured out how to use social media. eMarketer Inc. names the auto maker among the top 10 big firms doing the best job with the booming online phenomenon that is Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the like.

Knowing what to do and what not to do in that virtual world is vital, Kleis, an editor for LeftLaneNews.com, says at an Automotive Social Media Summit hosted by Thought Leadership Summits in Los Angeles.

Here are some of his dos and don’ts for companies trying to connect with customers through Internet social sites:

• Be transparent. “If you aren’t going to be open with people, they will figure it out.”

• Be authentic. “If you are pushing baloney, millennials will pick up on it and tear you apart. They will blog you and destroy you.” (Talk about the power of the Internet.)

• Don’t argue. Some people will say negative things about you online. "Provide positive alternatives.”

Ford’s goal was to within two years become the dominant auto company using social media. “They did it in six months,” Kleis says.

Even Ford CEO Alan Mulally communicates with customers on Twitter from time to time.

There’s this one, too: A guy tweeted Ford, saying, “I’m test driving an Edge Sport for the second time this week. Can you have Alan Mulally call to tell me I’m not crazy?”

Mulally called. The shopper bought. “How cool,” Kleis says. “And the guy is sharing with his social-media friends that Alan Mulally called him.”

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