Vehicles – Taking the Brand Social…… Or Not

In the automotive industry – like many industries – there are challenges and risks involved in taking a brand social.


Some of the challenges that the industry would face are choosing the right target market. You need to focus your advertising and marketing dollars to brand your message to the correct market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. For example, marketing to 20-35 year olds via social media will be a better market than marketing to 60-75 year olds, based purely on the numbers of daily users of social media. By marketing to the correct target market, it is a more efficient and affordable way to market effectively to reach potential clients and generate business. Another challenge is in finding the right social media application to interact with customers. Facebook and Twitter are certainly the heavy hitters but you shouldn’t shy away from using all of the social media applications that are available (LinkedIn, Instagram to name a couple others). Ford Fiesta had an extremely successful social media branding campaign. By lending cars to social media savvy people who shared their experience via photos and updates on social media, a lot of buzz was created and Ford received requests for information about the unveiling of the car to the US market by 50,000 people, who didn’t own a Ford at that point in time. For $5 million, Ford achieved with social media what has traditionally cost auto marketers millions. Fiesta had 60 percent name recognition before it hit US lots. Jim Farley, VP of global marketing, said: “I want customers to tell our story. That’s what digital has shown us,” How to earn cred among consumers.” The costs were substantially less than other campaigns as well; in fact they didn’t spend a dollar on traditional advertising or marketing.

risk_measurement_400_clr_5483-300x300Some risks that folks in the auto industry face when it comes to branding via social media consist of how that company would deal with negative feedback. It is important on how you respond to your critics or problems people have. You should be sure to have all the proper information and respond when you have a resolution or let them know that you’re looking into it and will get back to the as soon as possible. This way you will have an explanation of what went wrong so that you can forge a path forward to make that customers experience better so that they will look favorably upon you. The photo below is an example from GM who was talking directly to people who had been affected by a recall of their vehicle. They managed the situation via social media. This is better than simply replying haphazardly and taking a defensive stance to push the client away and risk further dissatisfaction.

On the General Motors Facebook page, a complaint was answered with an invitation from the company to discuss matters.

Another risk would be taking too long when it comes to solving problems. Other risks include creating public relations issues. This could be caused by many things but an example would be using incorrect information during your social media branding campaign. A security breach by hackers could be a risk that your company faces as well as the potential of offending your audience. A poor taste image or tweet by a company could cause alarm bells to ring amongst your potential marketing base, which could hurt your sales. For example, an outside agency working for Chrysler accidentally tweeted the F-word in a message that stated, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f****** drive.” The company apologized and said its account was “compromised.” The carmaker did not renew its contract with the agency. Theft from competition is also a risk. When a company does something that seems to work, competition will usually follow suit.
As mentioned above, the Ford Fiesta had great success in branding via social media. They took the risk by giving people a chance to review and comment on the car, prior to it being released. If those people had a bad experience and nothing good was said, the release of the car could have been extremely unsuccessful and sales would be low. This is the same risk you take when not branding through social media. The company would be stuck sticking to traditional marketing campaigns which generally cost much more money and could also be hit or miss. An example of that is the Ford Fusion which had much less brand awareness and was much less successful after 2 full years of traditional advertising, which cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

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One thought on “Vehicles – Taking the Brand Social…… Or Not”

  1. Your post is very interesting as a good friend of mine who was an engineer for Ford loves his Ford Fusion. I guess it depends on the customer and their preferences. You bring out some critical risks that may impact a company brand. Ford is a pioneer when it comes to digital social marketing strategies. You are right about acquiring a diverse toolbox of social media as the public likes to browse around in many social media sites. Have you seen Ford’s flickr social media site? It is really great as it shows all of the muscle cars like my favorite the Mustang. It is really very cool and exciting.
    Here is the link:

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