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This is a netnographic study - an online approach to ethnography - of “The A1 Chase”, a commercial community launched by Audi Ireland in September 2010 on Facebook, during an online communication campaign for the release of the new Audi A1 in Ireland. The author explores and analyses the relationship between the brand and the community members as well as the community’s culture thanks to non-participatory observation and discourse analysis as research tools.
Brands planning to interact with social networks are today facing dilemmas to engage their audience. On one hand they may seek to control the communication environment making sure that the message come through clearly. On the other hand, a true social network implies members feeling a sense of ownership of the community and there is evidence that individuals may be resentful of corporate intrusion in what is perceived to be their own community space (croft, 2008; Hitwise, 2008 in Palmer and Koenig-Lewis, 2010).
With the emergence and growth of social networking sites, and especially “fan” pages on facebook.com leading social networking site, setting communities has never been as easy for brands that planned to interact with their audience. These “fan” pages, used for brands to engage their audience online and communicate with long-term and short-term objectives are producer-led communities because they are mostly led by brands.
The young adult audience is largely present on social networking sites as they spend several hours a day connecting with their peers. Several studies have shown that teenagers and young adults tend to be more difficult for brands to reach with classical mass media for several reasons:
- They consume less mass media than their elder peers.
- If they consume mass media they are likely to be consuming other media at the same time, especially digital media so their brain time available is low.
- They have become more resistant to mass marketing and it is very difficult for marketers to engage them with traditional messages
These are some of the multiple reasons why brands are looking forward to engage their audience online, being as close as possible to them and starting the conversation on the social networking sites channels.
Why choosing the Audi A1 Chase campaign Facebook “fan” Page community?
The Audi A1 chase campaign gives us a genuine example of what a short-term producer-led community is.
This research provides marketers and community managers insightful information on the brand-community interactions and a better understanding of community response to brand incentives in a social-networking site context. Developing a better understanding of the consumer and community response can lead to more effective practices in terms of engaging a community of consumers in a social networking context.