Irking us more than the term "social media" are the so-called social media "experts." None annoys us more these days than Ford's Defender-from-Ranger-Danger navel-gazing "guru" and Twit-king, Scott Monty.
Let's start from the beginning, with a little Ford fan forum named RangerStation.com. The forum was selling Ford-branded merchandise, got a letter from Ford requesting them to stop, they misunderstood it and bitched about it on their forum. We heard about it and dropped a post on it. Then Ford's PR team stepped in and clarified things. We even dropped a post about that too. What we don't remember is what sites like FastCompany.com are now claiming — that some guy at Ford named Scott Monty swooped in to save the day.
Because that's not quite what we remember happening. What we remember is some guy named Scott Monty coming into our comments and bitching at us for not talking to Ford PR while we were literally on the phone with Ford PR. He then went on to bitch at us some more after we'd put up a story correcting ourselves, thereby getting his ass banned from ever commenting on a Gawker Media web site. Monty was more of a nuisance than anything else. He certainly didn't mold the story in any way.
John Neff, Editor-in-Chief of Autoblog, agreed with our assessment that he doesn't remember Monty being involved with the RangerStation issue. When we first asked Neff about Monty, the first response was: "Is he the new media guy?" When we asked him about their relationship with Ford as one of the leading "social media" outlets, Neff responded "Ford's doing a great job with social media, but it's not him that's doing it."
Which is why we find it weird we're seeing a lot of navel-gazing "articles" recently about Monty, Ford's new "social media" stud. But after looking closer we realized those praising articles? They aren't real.
For instance, that "Fast Company" article? Despite being written by a "Fast Company Expert Blogger" named Allyson Kapin, it, along with many others, are not real articles read by real people looking to buy real cars. No, it's just another example of the dark side of "social media" — the masturbatory echo chamber re-twitting the same tweets (did we get the verbiage right? Somebody twit me if we tweeted that twit-shit right, k?) of the same piece of garbage over and over again to the same social media "gurus."
We spoke to Noah Robischon, executive editor of FastCompany.com, asking him who Allyson was and why she decided to write about Monty. Here's our instant message transcript:
Ray Wert: I'm writing a story about how this guy at Ford, Scott Monty, is getting puff pieces written about him everywhere, so expect to get some slop on Fast Company
Noah: bring it, and I'll send it to Allyson
Ray Wert: Excellent.
Noah: Just be clear that she is one of our "expert bloggers" and not a staffer for the magazine
Noah: or freelancer for themagazine
Ray Wert: What does "expert blogger" mean?
Noah: Everyone who signs up for an account on fastcompany.com can create a blog
Ray Wert: Seriously?
Remind us to go over and sign up for one of those accounts so we can puff ourselves up a bit — or better yet, just join our twitter account (or even mine), where we can be the center of your universe and you to ours. Which is really all this huge social media circle jerk is — an attempt to puff oneself up. Scott Monty is just doing what he does best — talking about himself on Twitter to other Twitterers. From what we hear, he's making pretty good money doing it. But at the end of the day, Ford will have to ask itself — did that money spent sell any more cars? Our best guess is no — but maybe a couple more PR people doing real work might.
UPDATE: In the interests of full disclosure, we need to mention Noah Robischon was our managing editor here at Gawker Media before leaving to join FastCompany.com.
Also, we wanted to make it clear our issue isn't with FastCompany.com or Allyson Kapin. Our issue is with Monty being paid a lot of money to puff himself up to an audience that doesn't include enough real people interested in buying real cars from Ford to justify the expense. Whether it was Kapin's or Mashable's piece or any other article/post/tweet by a member of the "social media expert" community, it's not actually getting the point Ford needs to be making across to an audience that's meaningful to the automaker's end goal. Higher sales.
Just as importantly, if Scott Monty wanted to show that he was really doing this for Ford, he'd open up a Ford Twitter account — an idea seconded by another social media site — to use daily for his work rather than his current ScottMonty twitter account. Because right now it seems like he's set up more for ScottMoCo promotion than for FoMoCo promotion.