Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media


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In our latest free whitepaper we take a look at the 5 steps for success in social media, and share how some of the world's leading automotive brands are leveraging social media listening and engaging to fuel their innovation, fine-tune their message and generate some serious positive change.

Check it out below and let us know what you think! Are you using any of the 5 steps? Any new steps working for your brand that we should add to the list? Let us know!

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Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media

  1. 1. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to SuccessSynthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  2. 2. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success Introduction The past 5 years have proven to be intense for the automotive industry. American companies had to deal with reorganization and financial challenges, gas prices are rising while jobs are dwindling, and the shift toward hybrid and other eco-friendly vehicles is revolutionizing the very core of how cars are built. And through it all, social media has rapidly sped to the forefront of communication, morphing from novelty to necessity. So how are automotive companies adapting? Which strategies are being implemented to leverage social media, both for vital intelligence and for communication? In an industry accustomed to spending vast budgets on flashy advertising campaigns, critical eyes are watching how the automotive industry adapts to the relationship-building and community focus inherent in social media marketing. With so many structural changes and challenges in recent years, the Automotive industry has done a phenomenal job at innovating in the social media space. Brands have taken just about every angle for a test drive: consumer generated content, social media relationship building, online customer service, road trip scavenger hunts, and the list goes on. There’s even a new car that tweets to you when you need to change your oil. However, behind all the social media public activity, it’s the listening going on behind the scenes that’s truly driving these brands forward. Social media is irrevocably changing the way car-makers listen to their market, create and promote cars, how dealers interact with customers, and how car owners interact with each other. As consumers take control of information, by creating, sharing or being inspired by online content, relationship-building is becoming increasingly important for a brand to sustain a strong reputation and become a brand of choice in the long term. This whitepaper takes a look at the current state of social media in the automotive industry, presents examples of real brands leveraging social media and listening to fuel success, and examines the key listening trends and strategies shaping the future of the Automotive industry.Synthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  3. 3. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success #1 Understand Your Brand’s Online Reputation Online Reviews Can Have a Big Impact on Your Business The 2012 Consumer Report on Car-Brand Perception Survey found that consumers are seeing less and less differentiation between big car companies, as 73% now rely on online reviews of personal experience before buying a product. People who do have a strong brand preference are either dedicated long-time enthusiasts, or have a grudge against a brand due to a previous bad experience. Brands are, thus, faced with the double-edged sword of social media, where both positive and negative voices can be expressed, shared and dramatically amplified. For a leading automotive brand, listening online helped to understand both the rational and emotional arguments consumers had against buying an Electric Vehicle (EV), and empowered them to fuel their subsequent campaign; it was geared towards breaking these ideas and negative preconceived notions, which ultimately helped the brand become the leader in this category. Crisis Management - Identify the Fires and Put Them Out Fast! As information is shared and amplified, a crisis can quickly emerge and take its toll. In an industry based on trust and security, listening online can help detect and manage social media crises before they blow up into a major problem. How a Leading Automotive Company Used Listening to Address a Crisis A major auto manufacturer faced a significant crisis in 2010 when news broke out that one of their car models had issues with gas pedals sticking. By listening to comments on both mainstream and social media in 5 countries, the brand was able to have real-time insights into the crisis and ensure a swift and effective culturally-targeted response. Monitoring also enabled early detection of a new crisis spike in one country, which empowered their PR team to react quickly and eliminate new consumer fears before the crisis escalated.Synthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  4. 4. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success #2 Discover Key Trends & Market Differentiators All of Your Customers’ Wants and Needs are Available Online While the ‘sales needle’ of the Detroit 3 started pointing towards “empty” at the onset of the Great Recession, online buzz on Twitter and Facebook were just starting to pick up. Consumers are seeking answers to very specific questions around price, quality, environment, gas mileage, etc. They gather in groups and communities on forums, blogs, Facebook or Twitter to get answers from people they trust. How a Leading Car Maker Used Listening to Target the Indian Market A major auto manufacturer conducted deep-dive listening on the Indian car market with Synthesio, in preparation for a new car launch. They discovered that purchasing a new car was a big deal and a huge source of pride for Indians who love to personalize and ‘pimp their rides’ with numerous options and accessories. Thanks to social media listening, this car maker now ensures that new cars launched into the Indian marketplace come with an array of options for customization, personalization and accessories to align with local culture. Find the Key Online Channels for Your Market Facebook and Twitter are the western world’s social media superstars of today, but they are not necessarily the best sites on which to focus your social media monitoring and engagement efforts. Instead, the sites in which consumers “live” online should be given top priority – with a focus per market and brand. Forums are the initial vehicle driving communication on the Internet, and while their designs have changed, one simple fact remains true: passionate people always share facts, opinions and experiences about brands and topics with other passionate people. Forums are where consumers go to get hard questions answered, to find other people with similar passions, or to show off some niche success. Here are some of the most forward- thinking automotive forums out there:Synthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  5. 5. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success Top Automotive Forums – Fish Where the Fish Are! #3 Focus on Engagement - Nurture Relationships with Top Influencers Strong brands figured out that nurturing a small and exclusive community of influencers has the greatest impact on brand reputation and campaign success which get massively amplified by this network of people with a unique relationship to the brand. Influencers are not always the top bloggers or journalists; they can be forum moderators, very active Twitter users or environment experts. Build Online Communities Whether in the manufacturing, dealership, or service industry, the companies who are favoring relationship-building over marketing gimmicks are getting the greatest traction. Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works, mentioned after an event on the automotive services industry that “…before I went up on stage, the great presidents [of the ASRW, NACE, CARS associations] talked about the importance of relationships, the value of listening. And for the first time in a long time at an event like this, I felt it. I felt like they meant it.”Synthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  6. 6. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success Create Brand Advocates Building relationships creates a strong community of brand advocates. A brand that can identify, listen to and engage with their biggest enthusiasts can create an effective venue to amplify positive messages and enhance brand reputation. One of a brand’s greatest and most powerful assets are its fan base. Focusing on and engaging with them creates a solid basis for a strong brand. How Peugeot Uses Influencers to Increase Brand Awareness and Reputation Peugeot partnered with Synthesio to discover influencers (advocates and detractors) across multiple countries and measured over time the impact of effective engagement with the short list of top influencers. They also leveraged Synthesio’s Social Reputation Score which measures the impact of the activities on brand advocacy. The program is still in its first phase of engagement and the brand will quickly be able to tell whether or not these influencers have increased the number of people intending to buy a car. #4 Get Car Dealers Involved Social media has proven to be a huge opportunity and a huge challenge for new and used car dealerships. Chris Brogan states it pretty simply: “I’m looking around for new cars, and falling into quagmire content management systems that grind, choke, and sputter out. They all use 10-point-or-less font sizes… They aren’t especially dynamic…and they don’t do a lot to try and get me into their store…wouldn’t you want to make it ridiculously easy for me to connect with your sellers?” Involving car dealers in the foray into social media is key to achieving a positive end-to-end customer experience from car selection to purchase and customer service, and consequently, is essential to brand reputation. Educate Dealers Dealers play an integral role in brand reputation, so it’s vital that brands work closely with dealers to ensure that their name is in good hands. While assessing what keeps cars running and customers coming back, social media can help the manufacturer, the dealer and the local mechanic connect and perform even better. Dealers are learning and improving on the social media front, but they are still lagging far behind most other retail industries. And the idea of transparency through social media in an industry that has a reputation for being not altogether honest is, well, a bit of a paradigm shift.Synthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  7. 7. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success Promote Best Practices #5 Measure, Measure, Measure… Online Campaigns are Costly, You Need Metrics to Measure Success Top automotive brands tend to spend very large amounts of money on ads and social media campaigns. Some gain large visibility, such as Porsche’s Thank You 1,000,000 Times, but it is imperative that brands understand that they cannot merely create campaigns, cross their fingers and hope for the best. Listening & engaging is an integral piece of the equation. Brands have the power to harness enormous datasets containing on-topic mentions of their brand which will, in turn, help to create better- targeted, more relevant campaigns. Brands also have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes in previous social media efforts and focus on the aspects that work.Synthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  8. 8. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success Establish Benchmarks Social media efforts need to be backed up by relevant KPIs in order to benchmark brands, products, campaigns or trends with their main competitors or internally. Although an official benchmark does not yet exist, car makers often create a customized industry benchmark to help brands better understand their current positioning and progress as compared to the competition. How to Measure Purchase-Intensions Using Social Media? Toyota partners with Synthesio to implement their Social Reputation Score as a way to benchmark and measure the efficiency of all their digital activities. The Social Reputation Score answers a very simple but crucial question: would you recommend this car? Scoring ranges from 0 to 100 and helps them to: • Identify and rank their brand’s SWOT • Keep a close eye on the competition by tracking their progress • Compare and track the impact of multiple advertising campaignsSynthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012
  9. 9. Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media 5 Stops on the Road to Success Conclusion As with any other industry, social media is just another way to cultivate, grow and nurture the cornerstone of any good business: relationships. The big American Auto companies are increasingly deploying innovative and engaging campaigns that extend their traditional advertising into the lives, living rooms, and now even the pockets of potential customers - and many of the international car brands are doing so as well with much success. The focus, now more than ever, is on engaging in exciting new ways. Dealers are reaching out to customers, trying new things and trying to build relationships in new ways. Customers are bringing a certain level of accountability to an industry long bemoaned for its, well, not-quite-transparent used car dealers. Not only are they using sites like Yelp and Twitter to talk about their satisfaction and frustrations, but also online forums as well where they trade tips, solve problems, and make it easy for everyone to find whatever they are looking for - whether it’s parts, a whole car, or just someone with whom to consult and share. The Automotive industry doesn’t yet have the same social media adoption rate as fashion or tech companies, but overall, everyone at every level seems to be embracing the rapid changes, and many are thriving. In the future we expect to see stronger relationships between manufacturers, dealers and customers through social media, a more educated consumer who has access to social media for research, and a higher bar of transparency, effectiveness and accountability for everyone in the world of car manufacturing and sales. About Synthesio Synthesio is a global social media monitoring, analysis and engagement company, helping the world’s leading brands and agencies to listen to, understand and engage with consumers worldwide. By delivering social media data of the highest quality within 100+ countries & 50+ languages, brands receive crucial intelligence & insights into their market’s opinions, wants and needs. Driving positive business change, and building stronger relationships with consumers since 2006. www.synthesio.comSynthesio Fueling the Automotive Industry with Social Media December 2012