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Does 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 customer 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.


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