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Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts

Monday, January 14, 2013

Honda Advertises on the Associate Press Twitter Feed



There was an interesting revenue tactic last week by the Associated Press when technology company Samsung advertised on the AP's twitter feed during CES.  AdWeek immediately covered the story, since there is some discussion about AP blurring the line of between "editorial church and state."

Another week and another big industry event, this time the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit and sure enough the AP's Twitter account is again posting sponsored tweets this time for Honda and Acura. Both posts featured the upcoming concepts the brands were featuring to interest AP's 1.5 million twitter followers.

This is an interesting tactic since one can assume a lot of media from other publications follow AP on Twitter.  If a brand can get their news to journalists in a quick way through what could be seen as a target media buy to a difficult to reach audience - reporters, this may not be all that bad of a tactic. Unless it backfires as crossing some line as some commenters on Twitter have expressed.

What will be telling is how long this lasts.  It could be seen by Twitter as a challenge to their own advertising model.  If Twitter accounts start selling their tweets directly to brands, this could usurp some ad dollars from the company providing the community and with a looming Twitter IPO on the way this probably won't last long.

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If you want to hear some more on this topic, checkout this week's BeanCast Marketing podcast that I was a panel member on. We discuss this topic in depth as well as several other current marketing and social media topics.


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Friday, July 29, 2011

Chevy Pits Its 100 Years of Cars in a Bracket Challenge



Congratulations to Chevrolet as they get ready to celebrate their 100th birthday on November 3. As part of many festivities that are to happen until then, the brand developed an online experience that pits its 100 years of select models against each other. It is basically a bracket challenge where people vote for their favorite Chevrolet cars and trucks.


The 100 Years of Chevrolet website combines several social media connections with the brand where people vote by clicking a Facebook like button all to answer the age old question "What's the best Chevy of all time?" I know I wasn't asking that question either, but it is fun choosing which car or truck you like best in each round.

Most votes have a clear winner in the first round, but the 1970 Chevelle SS convertible and the 2010 Camaro are in a pretty close match with only 100 votes separating the two cars after almost 4,000 total votes in the match. Psst...I voted for the Chevelle SS.

I'm already a fan of Chevrolet on Facebook, but if you are not you need to be to cast your votes. Unfortunately, once you are a fan the experience got a little spammy after I went back to my Facebook profile since the Chevy 100 website doesn't tell you that every vote is published to your Facebook wall (see image on right.)

Other than the minor publishing to Facebook situation, and yes I get why they did it that way as it creates interest to my friends on Facebook and hopefully more traffic for Chevy's website, the experience is solid and focuses more on people's love of the current lineup and their love of Chevy's prolific automotive history.

So go and vote for your favorite Chevrolet vehicles!


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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google+ Is More a Threat to Twitter than Facebook



Let's talk about the latest buzz in social media and even though this article will not be talking directly about automotive I still think it is relevant here.

After a week of using Google+, I think a lot of pundits are off on who Google+’s competition is. It is not Facebook. It is Twitter. It may be Facebook someday, as Google continues to rollout more functionality and soon will launch brand pages, which will begin their pilot phase in two weeks, but for now the site really looks like a challenger to Twitter.

Let me explain.

Circles are Better Lists

Everyone is talking about Google’s Circles functionality that allows one to select which group a new person you add will exist in. People can be placed in multiple groups, for example I can add someone to my local Dallas group and in a work-related group. To me, this is an improvement over Twitter Lists where one can divide their community in an easy way and filter their “Stream” by circles, similar to how one might display a Twitter list as a feed only viewing the tweets for that group. I use lists more than I’ve ever used groups on Facebook and the intuitiveness of Google’s Circles feels like a great evolution of this functionality.


Add to Circles is More a Follow than a Friend Request

You can add anyone to a Circle who is on Google+. There is no request, the person being “circled” does not have to approve your decision to include them in your community and I’m sure we’ll see social media articles in the near future talking about the ratio of people in your circles and how many have you in their circles and if you should circle back others who circle you. Community building sounds more Twitter-like than Facebook-like to me.

Extending One’s Community is Like Watching @ Mentions

I find a lot of new people in my social sphere by seeing who people I follow on Twitter are conversing with and when it looks interesting and that person’s profile and content looks compelling I follow them on Twitter. I don’t do this on Facebook. I don’t send friend requests to people my aunt might be talking to in a comment thread or send a request to a co-worker’s high school buddy even if I think that person’s comments are interesting.

Google+ is different since I can easily add people to Circles who have common interests and it’s not as awkward as sending a friend request to someone you have never met before. Perhaps adding people to Circles will be less social as more people join and it really does become an alternative to Facebook than Twitter. Currently adding people to a Circle is a behavior that is more socially similar to a Twitter Follow action.


Hangouts are the New Hashtags

Want to join a more focused instant conversation that anyone can join and jump out of easily? Well Hangouts are for you and I’m sure we’ll see brands using this functionality in a way twitter hashtags are used. I’m guessing Hangout trivia contests to win products and weekly Hangouts will develop around specific days and times for the community to come together to discuss their shared interests.

SEO is Google+’s Silver Bullet

Like Twitter, Google+ content is publicly available on the world’s most used search engine and many are wondering how Google might change its search algorithm to benefit Google+ content. This is important to brands, publishers, content creators and others who concern themselves with things like Page Rank and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but I can guarantee you my old high school friends or family members have no idea what Page Rank and SEO are nor will they ever care. So the Google+ silver bullet may be an audience that is interested in how content better lives in search and again here is where the link to Twitter as a competitor is more apt than Facebook. Many are on Twitter trying to get better SEO and I’m sure they will also join Google+ to improve their search rankings.



The Stream

Google’s feed is called the “Stream” and it pretty much behaves like Facebook’s News Feed with the ability to add links, images, videos, or a location along with commentary plus your community can comment and +1 (similar to “Like”) your posts. This functionality is very much like Facebook today, but if people recall the evolution of Facebook’s News Feed borrowed from Twitter’s interface (and Friendster.) Sure it is more media-rich than Twitter, but this feels like Twitter on steroids and allows for conversations around a particular topic, but I agree this functionality is most like Facebook and hence why most feel Google+ is a Facebook competitor; however, I feel this is where Twitter ultimately may have evolved if Facebook hadn’t beat them to it.

Still Evolving

Google+ certainly feels more like Twitter today, because a lot of the people I’ve connected with have come from my Twitter connections than say real-life connections. That of course may change if the masses, read my mom and non-social media types, start to gravitate to Google+. Without a compelling reason to move to another social community platform for the masses, it is doubtful my mom will want to re-establish all of her connections on a new website when Facebook has years of photos, years of accepted friend requests, and years of familiarity she has come to like.

For now, Google+ isn’t replacing either Facebook or Twitter since the community is still small and invitations are slowly trickling out, but as the site gains momentum it will be interesting to see if Google+ takes time away from Twitter more than Facebook. My guess, after a short week of using it and liking it, is it may be a formidable challenger to Twitter.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

After Losing Car of the Year, Nissan Promotes a Tweet



So you didn't win the big award especially after losing to your main rival. It isn't the best feeling. In this situation, Nissan LEAF lost to the Chevy Volt for North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show but that didn't stop Nissan from promoting what they did win.

Today on Twitter there is a promoted tweet: "Nissan LEAF" that promotes their winning the Eco Car of the Year at NAIAS. There is nothing wrong with promoting this tweet and getting the word out. Nor is there anything wrong with the Eco Car of the Year award, I'm sure it's an honor.

I just wonder if it's a little sad after losing the big award to have to promote a tweet to get people to notice you did win something. After all of the press coverage of Chevy Volt winning Car of the Year on Monday, perhaps Nissan felt a bit left out and wanted to share they didn't walkaway empty handed.

Lastly, I would've never known they won if it wasn't for the promoted tweet so it definitely served its purpose.


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Monday, September 6, 2010

Tweet Buick Social Media Trio for a Test Drive



Buick is interested in appealing to a more youthful customer and they are making strides with the Enclave, LaCrosse, and now the new Regal. As part of their outreach, Buick has hired three social media "Ambassadors" (their word) where one can tweet the @DriveBuickChi trio and "the test drive comes to you", provided one lives in Chicago (that's what "Chi" stands for in case you were wondering...)

It's an interesting concept and surely takes some of the hassle out of car shopping for those who are serious potential buyers. I wonder though how many tweets will be people testing how this concept works with no intent of really buying.

They are tweeting pictures of test drivers like @BrianGainor (Brian Gainor) @LauraGainor (Laura Gainor) who tried out the LaCrosse last week. Laura is a social media strategist for a marketing+pr agency and blogged about her experience.

Buick is spreading the word by posting a photo gallery on its Facebook page. I'm not sure if other efforts are happening to get the idea some reach. They have also created a Facebook event from August 1 to October 31 for those who want to attend a drive. To further increase interest, test drivers can win VIP tickets to an event if they are lucky to find some tickets under the test drive car's seat.

I do like the idea of Tweet to test drive. It's an interesting idea and one that could work very well for a dealership. One wonders why this concept wasn't extended to a dealer instead of going with three social media experts. I get the obvious reason, but why not train a dealer and test-pilot how effective this can be and then broaden its reach to other markets.


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Volvo Asks to be Part of Your Social Connections



Volvo sent out a "Stay in the Loop" email that solely communicated connecting with the company on Facebook and Twitter. It's the first time I've seen any automaker send out an email communication out to their mailing list that only promotes the brand's social presence. Most emails are putting some sort of link to a Facebook page or Twitter account, but that is usually relegated to the end of a quarterly email communication.

There's nothing really significant here from Volvo, but it is interesting to see the brand solely promote its social links with zero promotion of a vehicle. What's nice is the call-to-action is straight forward, but do customers or potential customers really want your company sending them emails about liking them on Facebook?


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Monday, August 16, 2010

Audi Petitions U.S. Facebook Users to Bring TT RS Here



European sports cars that typically stay in Europe are often begged to be brought over by automotive journalists and die-hard enthusiasts. Audi is taking a different path, possibly to prove how much begging there really is for a their only available in Europe TT RS sports car, by asking social media participants on Facebook and Twitter if they are interested in signing a 'petition' to bring the TT RS to the United States. Supposedly, Audi will do it if there is enough interest.

As someone intimately familiar with product planning, the whole idea of asking random people in social media to show interest in your car is a bit ridiculous. Sure it creates some nice social media engagement numbers like app installs on Facebook, tweets on Twitter and comments on your brand fan page but is the effort truly reaching real customers of the TT RS. Product planning isn't about social popularity, but rather marketability and profitability of a product against the competition in its segment, at least that's a good portion of the decision. Asking random people if they want X product is not.

Regardless of how sincere Audi is about their 'petition', the effort now includes some advertising on Facebook and an application where one can share their seriousness for buying one and provided the images load -- they did not for me after many attempts -- one can share pictures of the TT RS.

Audi is definitely finding a new way to turn the begging done by enthusiasts into a social conversation and that at least is an interesting concept. Now we'll just have to see if 122 application Likes on Facebook is enough to influence product planning.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Brief Life of Twitter Campaign Accounts



Well-known social media author/blogger Brian Solis once wrote, “Social Media is about breaking down barriers to engage in conversations.” Unfortunately, a lot of marketing teams forget that a social networking site like Twitter is all about conversation and to truly establish meaningful conversation you have to build a relationship with those who discuss your brand, product, or marketing effort.

Twitter accounts established solely for marketing campaigns are pointless and essentially demonstrate a marketing team that doesn’t really get what Twitter or even conversational marketing is all about – relationships.

I have been following several automotive marketing campaign Twitter accounts created to extend a campaign into the popular social media site. After watching many of these efforts, it became quite clear that the “conversation” only lasts until that campaign’s marketing team is reassigned and budget is exhausted.

This chart shows several Twitter accounts created solely for a marketing campaign or event marketing purpose. Here you can see how the accounts died a quick death, how many people followed, and how much engagement happened from the account's marketing team. One striking fact is that the average automotive marketing Twitter account is only active for 74 days (barely 2 months.)


Conversationally Challenged

Communications average 263 tweets during the limited time the accounts are active with most producing only around 100 tweets. Two campaigns here showed significantly higher engagement levels. The Hyundai @roadtrip149 account was giving away free iPods last August and this created a lot of Retweets and promotional communications for the iPod giveaways. Kia’s @KiaCollective account promoted several free concert events on its microsite that were part of its campaign which led to a lot of communications out to followers about new concert announcements.

The only account I could find that was decent at establishing relationships with their followers was the Volkswagen @SluggyPatterson campaign. The Punch Dub campaign the Twitter account references is personified by a grumpy old man named Sluggy Patterson who supposedly invented the Punch Dub game, where one punches someone the minute they see a VW. Engagement happens by interacting with this fictional character who seemed to mimic the popular Twitter identity @ShitMyDadSays. The account did enhance the marketing experience and really did work well to promote the campaign’s concept. Unfortunately, the team doing it only participated for 67 days.

All seven of the examples here are dormant Twitter accounts since they have been inactive for months. Of the seven only one account actually told its followers to follow the primary Twitter account for the brand. The @ThisisiQ account from the UK directs its followers to move to the @ToyotaGB account to continue engaging with the iQ and its blog.

Relationships Take Time Campaigns Don't Have

One thing is very clear when it comes to marketing campaign Twitter accounts, they don’t last long enough to provide any relationship with its followers and since there is no significant engagement there is no significant value. Brands really need consider if accounts like these are worth the effort? I’m sure some resources had to be funded to support the Twitter accounts and by the look of things the benefit to the brand and campaign is minuscule at best.

If marketing teams really want to bring their campaigns under the social media umbrella, they should do so using an established brand Twitter account that can be used to continue the relationship keeping it fresh and, most important, long-term.

An example of this strategic approach is what @Jeep is doing with its Tiki Hunt marketing effort. They did not establish a Tiki Hunt Twitter account to engage with people; instead, they are directing people to the @Jeep account and building followers and fostering engagement through their brand account which will continue to engage their followers long after the Tiki Hunt campaign is over.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jeep's Tiki Hunt Bound to Geographic Limitations



Well this was a first. I have never been to a contest micro-site that does not include some sort of request for visitor information and a chance to enter to win the prize.

Leave it to Jeep to be unique. They are in the second phase of a “long term social media plan for Jeep to engage with its enthusiasts and consumers alike.” The first phase was a Tweet to Win dig contest at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS.)

Now Jeep has placed three tiki idols in three locations throughout the U.S. and has several clues on the TikiHunt.com micro-site. There are idols buried in California, Colorado and Illinois. Participants in Los Angeles and Chicago have already won two of the idols. The third and final tiki idol is hidden somewhere in Colorado with two clues left to be uncovered.

The one big issue I have with this contest is it severely limits participation, as winners must go to the location to find the hidden tikis. So, if you don’t live in Los Angeles, Chicago or Denver then you really can’t play to win. I suppose you could fly to the location to win but that seems like a long shot and major expense if you don’t get there in time before a local contestant figures it out.

Meanwhile, what is in it for the brand since there are no handraisers to add to their database? There is some engagement on the Jeep Facebook and Twitter pages but the engagement doesn’t really lead to much other than some commenting or liking of posts or maybe a retweet on Twitter.

There is a link to learn more about the Jeep Wrangler Islander edition on the micro-site, which brings people either to the vehicle landing page or one can view Jeep Gear. But that’s it. There just isn’t much in the way of leading to key engagement activities like Build & Pricing a Wrangler Islander or doing a Dealer Inventory Search.

It just seems there are some missing elements here to make this contest more effective for the company. Also, I would’ve made the hunt more virtual maybe using something like Google Street View and being the first to do a screen capture so that anyone across the country could participate to win, not just people who are physically already in the city.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Did Mazda Canada Start Leasing Due to Twitter?



Tino Rossini is very interesting person I have come to know through social media. He is part of an automotive blog based in Canada called Strada: Energize Your Automotive Experience. The blog covers a lot of aspects common to most automotive blogs: reviews, thoughts on the industry, some motor-sports but what makes this blog a bit more unique is Tino who is a retiree with a lot of interesting perspectives and historical knowledge of the industry and also someone very engaged in social media.

Why am I sharing all this on an automotive marketing blog?

Well this morning Tino shared with me a post on his blog that shared an example of how a brand (@MazdaCanada), a dealership (@AchillesMazda), a user forum (@MazdaForums) and an automotive blogger (@stradablog) all conversed on a review of a Mazda 6 that possibly contributed to Mazda Canada offering leasing on the 6, which it wasn't doing until shortly after some exchanges on Twitter.

All of this could've just been coincidence, but it is an interesting tale and probably had some impact on the decision.

Read the article here for the full story.

This is interesting because it demonstrates a couple things 1) how brands are engaging online 2) how dealerships are actively participating 3) how forums are getting outside of message boards and on to Twitter 4) how social media can impact marketing sales strategy.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: March 2010



It’s getting pretty interesting on Facebook these days. Facebook is finally making brand Fan pages, oops I mean Like pages – more on that later, clearly pages owned by brands. Unofficial pages will soon move to the new Facebook Community pages designation with some changes in functionality, plus if they reach some threshold of fans they turn into community ran pages (think Wiki.)

The Like pages, okay they will still be called Fan Pages, will change a commonly held behavior where people “Become a Fan” of a brand or product. Soon people will simply “Like” a brand or product page. According to Facebook, people choose Like significantly more than they choose Become a Fan; though, how is this really that surprising when one can Like just about everything on Facebook? By design, Like should garner far more clicks than Become a Fan, but someone looked at some data and didn’t think about the user interface already in place to justify the decision.


Free Cars & Basketball

The big news this month was a nicely ran promotion from Infiniti that was done to support a College Basketball bracket game on CBS Sports. Infiniti ran banner ads supporting their marketing of the new M37/M56 models where one could win a new M.

What was interesting is that Infiniti also bought some media on Facebook supporting the CBS Bracket Challenge but also gave people an opportunity to Become a Fan of the Infiniti fan page. In the day or two the ad started running on Facebook, Infiniti added around 50,000 fans. Now I never know how many impressions a brand bought to get such a gain, but it is still an impressive upswing for the brand and the combination with the College Basketball passion point surely helped increase engagement.

Jeep was an interesting one this month too. They ran a Tweet-to-Win contest to increase the exposure of their @Jeep Twitter account, but to find out when Jeep was going to ask a trivia question for their Twitter contest people had to visit the Jeep Facebook page to learn the time. One would think this promotion would also increase Facebook fan page numbers for Jeep since they were giving away a free Jeep Wrangler Islander Edition. Unfortunately, Jeep had typical fan growth that ran in the 3% increase realm for March, in other words no gain from the Tweet-to-Win contest; though they did have significant follower growth on Twitter (more here.)


Continuous Marketing

Several brands continued running ads throughout most of the month of March, if not all of March. They included Mazda, Dodge and Toyota; though, Toyota’s ads were not a promotion to increase Fans of their fan page; rather, they promoted Toyota loyalty (you can learn more about that effort by reading my post on Toyota’s marketing loyalty.)

The Mazda and Dodge ads were constantly showing up on my Facebook pages even though I’m already a fan of both brands. This makes me wonder two things. Does Facebook not support a good retargeting message capability on their site or is it that the Facebook inventory of relevant ads is so small they keep serving me the same units? Seems it could be a little of both and one would think after a brand has gained that person as a fan that other messages could be sent to support further brand engagement.



Housecleaning

Lincoln has officially taken over their fan page and now are doing regular updates yet still not Become a Fan campaigns or promotion of the page (full disclosure: I'm involved with this effort.) Scion had asked their unofficial fan page to be identified as such last month, well now we know why as Scion has started an official Facebook page that had it's first post Monday March 29, 2010.

In European Facebook news, Aston Martin finally took ownership of a friendly URL for their fan page http://www.facebook.com/astonmartin. Also, I changed my tracking of SMART as I follow the global fan pages for BMW and MINI so it seemed appropriate to follow SMART's global page instead of it's USA specific fan page.



Download the Excel file: Facebook Auto Fan File (March 2010)
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jeep Attracts New Twitter Users for Chance to Win, But Will They Stay?



The first phase of the Jeep “Tweet-To-Win” contest concluded last Friday. Five people were the first to answer trivia questions on Twitter before anyone else and thus won trips to the New York Auto Show. The five winners will now have a chance to search a giant sandpit to locate a Tiki idol that wins the finder a new Jeep Wrangler Islander edition.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, I covered this story before the contest started and now it’s time to see how the contest performed for Jeep on Twitter.

The contest ran from March 15-19. The first person to correctly Tweet the answer along with the hashtag #NYIAS (referencing the New York International Auto Show) was the winner that day. The Jeep Facebook page announced everyday when the trivia question was going to be asked on the @Jeep Twitter account.

I noticed several Jeep Facebook fans commenting how they were disappointed the contest was on Twitter and not Facebook. Some fans decided to join Twitter so they could participate and Jeep’s Twitter followers went from 2,307 on 3/14 to 3,646 on 3/20, resulting in an increase of 1,339 followers during the event.


Quite a few of the new followers are new Twitter users too. Several people joined Twitter just to participate in the contest. One contest winner even updated his Twitter profile after winning and Tweeting 17 times with the words, “I have stopped updating Twitter. Unfortunately I have better things to do. :)” Three of the five winners had never used Twitter before and a fourth had a dormant account that hadn’t been used since last December.

This all raises the question: If the contest generates a decent bump in followers, but ones who are not active in the community and are simply there just for your contest and once the contest is over they leave the social platform, was it really an effective way to build your brand's presence in the community?

Now I understand the contest isn’t just about more Twitter followers. It was also about the brand showing it can do social media and provided a platform to run a contest in a different way to further increase buzz and awareness for the Jeep Wrangler Islander product. The contest definitely facilitated those goals. It was also a way to get the word out about @Jeep being on Twitter since the account has only been around since December 23, 2009.

Jeep is definitely a brand to watch, as they have been very active in social media on Facebook and enthusiast forums for years. It’s also a brand with a passionate group of enthusiasts that can be tapped to engage in a way many other brands wish they had.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jeep Summons Tiki Idol to Promote Wrangler
Islander Edition



Twitter is a very active place this month for the automotive industry: Ford kicked off Fiesta Movement 2 (#fiestamovement); Chevy ran a social media road trip contest to South by Southwest (#chevysxsw); Kia held a Twitter Party with mommy bloggers (#kiasorento); and now Jeep is getting into it with their “Jeep-Tweet-To-Win” contest.

Jeep is running a contest from March 15 to March 19 where the first person to answer the correct answer to a daily quiz Jeep-branded question “in the correct format” will win a trip to the New York auto show. The five winners will then have a chance to win a Jeep Wrangler Islander edition.

Jeep will announce each day on its Facebook fan page at 10am EST when the Twitter question will be asked. The five winners will dig in a giant sandbox for a “Golden Tiki” that wins one person the Islander Wrangler.

This connection between Facebook and Twitter accounts will attract some more fans and followers to Jeep’s social media accounts, but like all contests it is not really attracting fans, but contest participants who care only about winning not about possibly buying your brand or products. It’s a great way to build a list or add more counts in social media without really building a true fan base or solid leads.

Let’s hope the Tiki idea doesn’t further lead to bad luck for the Chrysler group. With sagging sales and a lot of promises of profitability without product to back it up; though, that may change soon enough, the Chrysler brands can use all the Tiki idol luck they can get.

However, searching for a Tiki reminds me of an episode of the Brady Bunch where the boys find a Tiki idol that leads to an episode of bad luck situations. While wearing the idol Greg wiped out on his surfboard, Peter gets an unwelcome spider crawling on him at night and Bobby is almost hit in the head by a heavy wall decoration in the hotel room. The ancient curse of the idol can only be reversed if the idol is returned to the Tiki Caves back to its resting place with the ancient island kings.

I’ll play and watch the contest this week to see how Jeep promotes the event. They have a small amount of Jeep followers on Twitter (2,307 as of 3/14 at 9:44am.) Perhaps word will get out that a free car is being given away like when Jason Calacanis tried to give away a free Tesla Model S if his @auto account became the #1 account on Twitter. That netted @auto slightly above 10,000 fans but then sputtered out.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Kia Finds a Respectable Balance with Their Twitter Party



Kia threw a Twitter Party for the Mommy Bloggers Club last night. The Kia Sorento is building off their Super Bowl family-oriented TV ad that featured several kid toys including a Yo Gabba Gabba character Muno, a Sock Monkey and couple other random plush toys. It was personally one of my favorite TV ads from the Super Bowl.


The event was fairly well received especially by the women who participated. The “party” was basically a Kia Sorento trivia quiz with several prizes award randomly to those who answered the questions correctly during the allotted time. Questions focused on the Sorento vehicle and knowledge of the popular Super Bowl ad played into the quiz as well.

Participants used the hashtag #kiasorento to participate in the “party.” A hashtag is used in Twitter to conduct a threaded conversation so everyone can filter #kiasorento to see what everyone is saying in their tweets (for more on hashtags on Twitter checkout this article.)

Determining if the Twitter Party with the Mommy Bloggers Club was successful is a bit difficult without knowing the goals established by the marketing team. There were about 40-50 unique people who participated; though, there really isn’t a baseline to understand if this Twitter contest performed well. Engagement was high but that was by design as people were answering quiz questions to win a prize. There were a few comments where people expressed their love for the Sorento ad or the vehicle.

Reach is always an interesting thing. I pulled some random profiles from those who participated and most of the women had decent Twitter followings and even some good engagement metrics when analyzed against the stats provided by the website Klout. The good news is that Kia definitely reached their target by having the Mommy Bloggers Club promote and co-host the event.

Twitter Spam

Many also feel in the Twitter community that this kind of contest turns the people one is following into spammers. So there are some negative side effects too when considering this tactic. I personally feel it is pretty much pointless spam banter for the followers not participating or caring about the “party” going on, but this is the case with many hashtag campaigns.

One campaign recently held by a major automaker caused me to temporarily unfollow several people because it was becoming very annoying seeing twenty of the same messages getting retweeted every 10 minutes. Fortunately, there is a tool called TwitterSnooze to turn this stuff off for people not interested in such Twitter noise.

Brands definitely need to be aware of the impact of such tactics. The good thing about Kia’s approach is it only lasted a couple hours instead of multiple days like other hashtag events.

Kia definitely raised some awareness about their brand and found a fun way to extend their popular Super Bowl commercial to an online, social media adept crowd who definitely seemed impressed with Kia’s effort. Overall, I’d say for a Twitter contest this one was managed effectively and was brief enough to not be a considerable annoyance that can lead to negative brand sentiment.
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Folly of Fans and Followers


One very common error I see from those who are not active in social media is the fallacy of followers issue. This happens when someone who doesn’t use Twitter sees a huge number of followers on a person’s profile and assumes that person has more influence than those with significantly less followers.

Take for example, a presentation I was watching online from a recent auto show. They had a panel discussing the future of social media and what it meant to journalism. The host brought up several excellent insights in her presentation, but there was one very critical error. She used an example of an “influencer” - @ronniewilson – who has a large number of Twitter followers, “he [@ronniewilson] is becoming an extremely influential person in his industry with over 83,000 following his health and fitness test.” The speaker than continued about how this person said something about cars and that he was influencing a large audience of followers.

What’s disturbing about the use of Ronnie Wilson is that he is anything but an influencer. I took a look at his profile and ran it against a couple popular social media tools to determine his influence. The two tools I used are Twitalyzer and Klout.

The Proof is in the Stats

Nothing is perfect with either Twitalyzer or Klout. They do scoring that is interesting and does provide some information for comparative purposes, but the really interesting stuff is in the stats sections, especially the data Klout provides.


Ronnie has very little influence, if any at all. He has only 8 unique people who have engaged with him in the past 30 days and only 5 of his messages were interesting enough for 90,000 plus followers to share with others. What we have here is someone who used an auto-follow bot to gain a massive amount of followers to possibly appear influential to marketers or others unfamiliar to Twitter.

Like I said, I’m not so interested in Klout Scores or Twitalyzer influence numbers. They are mildly interesting, but if you dig into some of the statistics and look at how a person’s message is or isn’t being heard, relative to their follower numbers, you can get some idea of true influence. The stats I find most interesting are on Klout: @ mentions, unique @ senders, unique retweeters, and true reach. These stats show you if a person's message is resonating and sparking conversation and sharing in his or her network.

The trouble is finding what is a good number from these stats. I found the best way to determine this is to look at several profiles from people discussing the same things. If a campaign wants to talk to muscle car enthusiasts look at Twitter profiles discussing that. If a campaign wants to talk about home cooking look at several profiles. After looking at 5-10 profiles you'll notice what some better numbers are but don't expect the numbers to be huge. Reach is much smaller than say a follower number.

Beware of Robots

How can I tell this person is using a robot to gain followers? Well I can’t be 100% certain that is the case; though, the low engagement numbers show Ronnie's community doesn’t really care about his Tweets since they lack any reason to share or engage with him. He could be gaining followers through some major media coverage or popularity in a very active social space; however, having watched organic Twitter follower growth versus non-organic (using an auto-follower bot) growth it is very obvious looking at a chart like this from Klout that shows a very high trajectory of consistent growth. To gain 30,000 follower in one month is an obvious giveaway (from 3/15/09 to 4/17/09 he went from 33,375 to 62,248 followers.)

Perhaps using Ronnie Wilson was a mistake by the expert talking about social media’s influence journalism. Unfortunately, it is a mistake that isn’t uncommon nor will it be the last time such an oversight will happen.

Facebook Fans a Poor Indicator

It is very easy to get lazy when it comes to social media data and that’s what happened with a recent AdAge article covering “The Cult of Toyota.” I briefly discussed it in my monthly report on Automotive Facebook Fans: February 2010, but want to raise two points here.

The article mentions how Toyota’s Facebook fans grew 10% since the recall which supposedly shows a respectful amount of support. I looked at four months of growth data for Toyota and found that in those four months Toyota’s fan base grew on average 11%. None of the months included any marketing support either on Facebook (meaning no ads for Fanning Toyota were ran on the Facebook site.)

Another issue also happened in the AdAge article that bothered me. The author brings up Honda as a direct comparison to Toyota, which they are but using fan counts is a highly false indicator of brand strength on the social community website.

Honda has over 300,000 and Toyota only 80,000 fans. So Honda is roughly four times more popular with its fans than Toyota is with its fans, right? Nope. Not even close. Fortunately, the AdAge article doesn’t draw that point but the author does use Honda’s fan count as a reference number, but it’s a massively flawed comparison because Honda grew its fan base with a significant marketing buy late last year when they ran their Everybody Loves a Honda campaign.

The Honda Love campaign had over a full month of paid Become a Fan ads on Facebook, TV commercials with Honda’s Facebook URL, print ads with the URL, and all their email marketing communications included Fan promotion. They grew over 1,300% due to that large marketing dollar commitment (sorry no exact numbers have been disclosed and Honda has been so gall to pretend they did “minimal” marketing.) Without the big marketing spend Honda’s fan base would be very similar to Toyota’s organic (zero marketing) fan numbers.

Just like with Twitter followers we all have to be very careful when pulling Facebook fan numbers to determine trends, comparisons, or understanding a brand’s health.

Unfortunately, unlike Twitter, it is very difficult to determine how much true reach and influence a brand has with its fan base. The page administrators have access to some decent data, but that is not public.

Without behind the scenes Facebook analytics, it is nearly impossible to figure out how effective a brand is with its fans. There are no public tools to analyze a Facebook fan page like there are with Twitter analytical tools thus making it difficult to truly measure the impact a site is having with its fans.

In Conclusion

Using and Facebook and Twitter numbers can definitely be misleading and this is only a surprise to those unfamiliar with the sites and what engagement and influence truly means. The big lesson is that as marketers or journalists we can't be lazy when assessing how popular a person or brand is in the social space by simply looking at fan or follower data. The truth is far more complex than that.

UPDATE May 10, 2010: There is a great article from Harvard Business Review on the topic of "Followers Don't Equal Influence." If you are interested in some more data on this topic I highly recommend the article.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Volvo and Chevy Take Very Different Roads



Volvo just wrapped up their very successful virtual road trip where online teams were to “drive” a C30 DRIVe from Sweden to Egypt. Each team member would “pass” the car on to the next participant who lived as close to 1,333 kilometers as possible, the number being the distance the car can drive on one tank. Friends were competing to be first to complete the virtual journey around the world in 80 days.

It was another example of six degrees of separation where teams were formed virtually using a network that extended beyond just the team member’s friends, but further to their friends’ friends. The teams competed to win to have 15,000 Euros donated by Volvo in their name to a wind farm project in Turkey. Not exactly the most exciting prize, however, it is a positive prize for those interested in more altruistic Facebook activities, which are very popular on the site.

A Success

"To be number 17 on the list of most installed Facebook applications and number one among branded is great and more than we ever expected", says Lukas Dohle, Live Communication and Social Media at Volvo Car Corporation in Gothenburg, Sweden. They had over 63,000 teams play the game. Of course, a team could’ve been just one person installing the application and doing nothing with it after the initial install. Even so, the application definitely reached a very broad global audience and lead to some great press coverage too.

What I really like about this example is that it found a way to integrate well within the Facebook community and by doing so it reached a lot of people who might have otherwise never become familiar with Volvo’s C30 product. The charitable element also works very well in the community and I’m sure led to participation from those not really interested in anything about a new car.

Real Butts In Seats Road Trip

"Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?"
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Another marketing road trip idea was announced a couple weeks ago from Chevrolet. It isn’t a virtual road trip; instead, Chevy put together 8 teams throughout the U.S. to compete in road trip scavenger hunts as teams travel to the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film and social media event in Austin, Texas.


Named the “See the USA in a Chevrolet: A SXSW Road Trip” -- I’m hoping for a challenge to include Dina Shore or Pat Boone somewhere in the trip -- the teams will compete for social media views through Twitter tweets or other social media comments and views. Chevy has even setup a Posterous website to house the content developed along the way. They’ll also showcase the road trip using a feed on GM’s well-known Fastlane Blog.

This social outreach concept is developed around the idea that if you get enough influencers your marketing idea will develop a buzz around it that will extend beyond just the people participating in the road trip.

GM’s example is reaching out to social media influencers; mostly Public Relations and marketing professionals who have some decent connections on social media sites. Since the participants have significant social followings, the brand is counting on the buzz to build across the participants’ network and further to other networks that will follow along or participate (one form of participation right now is having people suggest what activities the teams should do on the trip.)

The Real Challenge: Relevance Beyond Participants

It will be interesting to see how the Chevy SXSW event develops. The hardest part is creating interest for those not participating in the event. There will be a lot of buzz shared by trash talking and co-promotion across teams, but will those not on the road trip care to share in the conversation?

The connection with the SXSW event should help extend the buzz beyond the teams, since the SXSW event attracts most of the social media elite who might help promote the Chevy road trip and this goodwill should increase interest just because some social media expert is talking about it.

It definitely is a strong event tie-in for a road trip that is meant to gain interest using social media tools and behaviors. Everyone can follow the teams using the hashtag #chevysxsw on Twitter and at the Posterous website Chevy is setting up for when it kicks off the week of March 8. I’ll definitely be following to see if it extends reach beyond just the participating teams.

Conclusion

It would be great to know how much Volvo spent or Chevrolet will spend promoting and implementing these road trips. Reach is definitely an important aspect of the road trip marketing idea. Getting people interested in participating on virtual teams or promoting real teams all add to the word of mouth of the projects and hopefully reach consumers who might never pay attention to a TV ad or online banner.

The important ingredient is making the events relevant to consumers. Volvo did that through a contest where a charitable donation was tied to the goal. The Chevy event will have a more difficult time extending the interest beyond those participating.

Here’s to viral magic whether it’s virtual or real.
“We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic."
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

GM's Social Media Team Shows How Brand Experience Online Can Remedy a Bad Situation



When someone complains in social media they simply want be heard. They want to voice issues to their social network so that their friends can know what company or product to avoid; they may want resolution; or they may simply just want others to provide moral support.

Sometimes companies are listening and may even actively respond to a complaint. The past two days I witnessed a very public version of this when one of the people I have come to know in the automotive twitosphere (I swore I’d never use that dumb word, but just did) had an issue with a Chevrolet Equinox he ordered a couple weeks ago.

Dalibor Dimovski (@kewlrats on Twitter, Dali for short) explains his situation on Facebook better than I ever could:

"The vehicle was paid for in full on Feb 2nd as we were told this as needed to lock in the incentives. We were also asked to hand over our trade-in at that time. This past Monday we paid our first loan payment to our financial institution.

And all of this without receiving the car. (Still have not received it yet.)"



Obviously this was an issue at the dealer level, probably with a lot of promises and the buyer will get the car very soon from the already paid car salesperson and now we have a very frustrated customer who is unsatisfied with a brand; though, fortunately Dali is not Kevin Smith and kept his cool, but he was definitely upset.



Dali told me, "I was upset at the dealership buying process and excruciatingly long wait and faults, I found it extremely difficult to get an answer to my questions. This both stressed me out further and made me second-guess my purchase." Fortunately someone was listening.

Early in the process, Dali received some support from his network of fellow automotive enthusiasts.



The situation was spreading about Dali’s issue and spreading through a community of well-connected automotive friends. Fortunately, General Motors’ Social Media Team, led by Chris Barger (@cbarger), noticed there was a problem, as did some other employees GM has on Twitter. One very active GM employee Borger (@GMEmployee) caught this situation early and tried to correct the idyllic expectation created by Dali’s salesperson.



It didn’t end there. GM’s Social Media team continued to work on the problem reassuring him that they were actively working to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The team also made sure Dali engaged with the proper channels like GM’s Customer Care team (@GMCustomerSvc).



Chris Barger further stressed that GM was committed, as a whole company, to make sure its customers needs are met. The actions taken online today demonstrated that care not only to Dali, but to everyone listening too.



Fortunately the vehicle was in at the dealership and the problem was remedied even if it did create some angst for Dali and his family, whom by the way recently had their first child, a beautiful baby daughter born last November.



The online experience extended into the dealership experience too. Dali shares, "upon walking into the dealership, I was floored by the response from my salesperson. He mentioned that he had heard about my updates on Twitter and was glad to have been contacted by the GM Customer Service team. The dealership did not realize I was that frustrated as I had always been patient and cordial in communication with them. They respectfully corrected the situation, making me an incredibly happy buyer in the end."

The resolution shows how effective social media can be in rapidly turning a bad situation around. What I personally like most about this example is that everyone was considerate to Dali’s issue and there was no grandstanding or over promising going on.

After a week of hearing about how much of a blowhard Kevin Smith is when he isn't happy with a company, it was great knowing not everyone is a jerk on Twitter when things go south.

One of Dali’s final tweets came late yesterday after he had finished picking up the car from the dealership and ending on a positive note. I’m sure it felt like a great day for the GM team, as a side effect it gave everyone in social media a positive example of how this social stuff works.

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