Recently I have noticed more and more car brands trying out social media as a serious marketing tool. This is great, as the notoriously digital unfriendly SA car industry is starting to recognize the long term value social media offers to their brands.
What are Car Brands Doing on Social Media?
The goal of social media for car brands was discussed on iMod recently. As a high involvement, high cost purchase, a conversion would be a user booking a test drive. Social media as a “conversation with brands” also offers a new avenue for CRM.
A number of brands are active in the social media space, but not many seem to be truly leveraging their social real estate.
Below are the top 5 car brands on Facebook. Chevrolet is the only brand driving users to test drive while Mini is trying to keep the funky, lifestyle beat going with MiniTV being one of the default apps.
The Twitter landscape is a mine-field for local brands. Car brands are all over. @ToyotaLive and @MiniSouthAfrica are the true success stories. Constantly active, Tweeting and commenting, both are run by external digital agencies – specialists in social media who can delegate people to run the accounts all day.
@BMW_SA is about to get an overhaul as they have just hired a new community manager, who will hopefully get some interaction on this account. Until the community manager joined, the account had been inactive since August 2011. The number of followers on what is a stagnant account shows just how powerful the brand loyalty to BMW is in South Africa.
The @RangeRoverSA and @NissanNavaraSA accounts confuse me. They are active, but appear to talk at people, rather than with them. It comes across as very rigid and not as a brand I would want to approach.
Some brands have ventured into the blogshpere. There does not seem to be much direction with this: brands are carpet bombing and not getting value for money.
Ford went through a stretch of handing out Rangers to almost anyone with a blog, while Mini actively approach lifestyle and car bloggers to promote vehicles during their launches.
These are two different approaches, and I think the Mini approach has more longevity. It is built around developing relationships with key influencers. Ford chose to go for total reach, even if the blogs posting content about their brand had little or no relevancy to the Ford Ranger.
So, while some brands are winning at social media – to a degree – others are flailing around on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. On the blogsphere, brands are trying to engage bloggers to get content.
Some do it well – the VW Date Drive was a great campaign, where Volkswagen engaged a range of bloggers to promote the launch of the Polo GTi.
Mazda failed with their latest launch of the CX-5 compact SUV. The initial round of the launch hosted the usual group of journalists, but then a group of fashion bloggers were brought in. They were treated to 2 days of driving the CX-5 in the Cape Winelands as well as health spa experiences.
Of the 5 bloggers who took part, I can only find 1 review/blog post. It was badly written – surprisingly so, as the author is
apparently an ex-journalist a journalist. I will give her grace, as cars are not something she usually writes about.
What I do have a gripe with is the public relations officer. Yes, the CX-5 is targeted at the ‘fashion mom’ demographic, but shouldn’t you chase for coverage, having hosted these people at a lovely hotel and spa?
- Target car bloggers, or include car bloggers on the standard journalist loop
- If you are targeting niche topic bloggers, go ahead. But ensure their topics relate to your product/target market in an obvious manner.
- If bloggers don’t post about the experience you offered them, chase them for it. Be diplomatic, as bloggers are horribly egotistical. Most have day jobs, however, and just need a reminder.
I do think bloggers - car, lifestyle and niche bloggers included – have their place in the marketing mix. I do think that brands need to be bolder and approach bloggers. They also need to manage their social network properties better.
There is a lot of potential for bloggers and brands to build lasting relationships, offering online users a more original opinion on your products and promoting coversation around your brand.
Leigh is a blogger and journalist (see her comment below). Yet again, as this was not sub-edited before I posted, it was badly communicated that I feel Leigh did her part and gave coverage to the brand having attended the launch, and the other bloggers did not.
There is also a 2nd post which I was not initially aware of, on Twisted Lifestyle.