Social Media – Living in a New Paradigm

January 9, 2012


I’ve heard several news stories recently that Detroit’s automakers are on track to be the next big comeback kings.  After years of layoffs and even financial restructuring, they are leaner organizations bent on reinventing themselves and recapturing the hearts (and wallets) of consumers. After listening to an interview with Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service, I think those comeback predictions might just come true.

One of the golden nuggets from this interview is Jim Farley’s observation that the world of social media has changed all our lives. We are living in a new paradigm with new opportunities to really interact with our audience and involve them in our business. No longer do we have to wait for the marketing department to convene a focus group to tell us what the customer wants or doesn’t.  The conversation is already happening out on the internet. The companies that will survive now and in the future are those that are willing to listen and engage in the conversation.  In this new world, like the power of compounding, the eyeballs on one simple message posted can multiply quickly. As interviewer Brian Solis put it, “the audience is an audience of audiences.”

After several years of listening and building our social media audiences, we’ve learned a few lessons.  People want valuable information and prefer a quick response.  They would rather hear the correct answer from the source first. They like to know that their voice matters and that someone is listening. They enjoy engaging through social media because they can do so at their convenience and from the comfort of their own tablets, cell phones, laptops and desktops. They want to share their knowledge with others. We’ve also learned that engagement by our international audience is growing quickly and they are hungry for our industry knowledge and experience.

If you are willing to consider one more New Year’s resolution, I encourage you to step up your involvement in social media in 2012.  If you are still new to it all, start with one platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, etc.) and find an organization or issue that interests you, and listen daily.  Investing just five minutes a day at lunch or before/after work will allow you to start seeing what topics are being discussed and which messages resonate best with the audience.  After a month or two, branch out to another platform and begin listening there as well. Not only will you learn a lot but, when you feel comfortable, you may even feel compelled to join the conversation.

Businesses are seeking employees who are not only proficient with technology, but also understand its role within society and are willing to engage.  If we are to help the engineering profession become leaders in this global society, we must all understand how to optimize the opportunity presented by this new paradigm, and communicate the message that engineers are knowledgeable leaders working hard to make the world a better place. Every voice helps.

Which social media has had the biggest impact on your personal or professional life so far? Which social media do you think will be the king in 2012 or 2013?

Audrey Caldwell

Senior Manager, Corporate Communications


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1 Comment
  • I blog at “Wit and Wisdom of an Engineer” – –

    Very amazing the number of people you can reach with the new tools of social media. Important for engineers to understand the potential to reach individuals and groups with these new tools. Technology provides the tools – but content is still king. From understanding technology, to sustainability, to economics, to our declining infrastructure – engineering is at the center of the story. Write well and write often – their is a global audience for engineering related issues.

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