Posts Tagged ‘Cars’

It took me only three seconds to decide my theme for this blog: “public relations + auto industry + social media =?” The three subjects are where my passion and curiosity is. However, it took me more than a while to decide what to write for my first post, because there are so many topics and questions I want to discuss through this blog with the whole world.

Perhaps I should start with a simple question: “Why do automobile brands need social media?” From an automotive engineering/PR student’s standing point, here are my answers:

  1. All the auto brands are striving to survive in a horrifyingly competitive marketplace. They need to leverage every tool they can to amplify their voice.
  2. The major products of this industry, cars, are highly complex. Selling cars involve assorted factors including technology, emotion, culture, etc. To achieve this, different channels for demonstration and visualization are needed.
  3. Auto industry provides a variety of services in a purchase cycle which can last more than ten years. Auto brands have to build and maintain a good and long-term relationship with their customers.

All of the three features proved that automakers need social media. Social media helps auto brands:

  • To be heard
  • To be personalized
  • To be proactive and quickly reactive
  • To be credible and trustworthy

With the exponential growth of social networks, selling cars on Facebook and Twitter is no longer ridiculed. A recent survey done by ROI Research showed that 61% of the respondents discussed vehicles online, 49% follow car brands and dealers on Twitter, and 26% of them were “likely to make an automotive purchase…as a result of a recommendation someone posted on a social networking site”. (Resource: Social Car News)

Do automakers know this? Hope so.

One of my favorite social media books, The New Rules of Marketing & PR (by Daivd Meerman Scott), told a story about automakers at the very beginning of Chapter 1. At that time, the official sites of GM, Ford, and Chrysler looked like pure advertising and one-way messages to the author. “They were luring me in with one-way messages, not educating me about the companies’ products.” What about now?

With a curiosity, I examined seven auto brands in spring, 2010 (Three of them are from the Big Three). All of the seven brands built Facebook page and Twitter account. Surprisingly, however, only Ford identified some social media links on the homepage of its official site. Every brand is making efforts on social media, but how to make your efforts visible and accessible? It seems to be another story.

Only five months later, by now, 4 of 7 brands have identified some links on their official Web sites to their social media pages/sites. I think everyone is exploring, learning, and making progress in the era of Web2.0. And I, myself, can’t wait to start this journey.

Image Source: bw-inc