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Comment: Social Media And The Car

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Comment: Social Media And The Car

Geoff Maxted
September 21, 2013

Social Media
Just because you don’t like something or don’t have any interest in it, does that mean you should ignore it and hope it goes away? Ignoring what goes on about you is one thing, but does your ignorance stand in the way of your own betterment or personal pleasure? Blimey, after a while these philosophical questions peck at your head, don’t they? So does making a statement that always ends up as a question, wouldn’t you say?

So, social media then. Why would you join in with something so trivial and unnecessary as Twitter or Facebook? Many people think like that and they are making a big mistake. If a herd of wildebeest are charging in one direction it is probably best to run with them rather than against them, lest you get trampled and left behind.

This is the position that the automotive industry found itself in a scant few years ago in the face of the rise and rise of social media. It is probably acceptable for me to say that, as an industry, they firmly had their collective heads in the sand, remaining reliant on the usual methods of getting their product known. Fortunately, lessons have been learned and the automotive industry has got its act together.

Social media delivers faster information flow than regular advertising ever could, but it’s probably fair to say that for a while the industry didn‘t do it right. This appears to be the result of thinking that social mediums were just advertising platforms and just an addition to the way they previously did their promotions. This was a strange mistake to make because the clue is in the name. Once they realised they actually had to engage with people rather than just talking at them things began to improve and now the automotive industry has got into the meat of what is possible.

Increasingly car makers are finding new ways to use social media and digital marketing to draw attention and lure potential buyers. For example, in America, Honda launched a social media program this year to save at least five good old drive-in movie theatres. With the film industry switching to all-digital movies at year end, US drive-ins will have to spend about $75,000 for a new digital projector or close down. Honda's Project Drive-in is trying to raise community awareness and make sure that at least some of these world famous drive-ins survive. Already more than 2 million people have voted for a drive-in to save on Honda's website.

Motor companies are now using not only their websites, Facebook and Twitter, but newer sites such as Vine and Instagram. In an effort to have a summer clearance one manufacturer used Vine (Twitter’s short-form video sharing application) to extend coverage. Customers and dealerships posted thousands of humorous videos in response. That gets the message across.

With all of the information available on numerous devices manufacturers have to come up with continually innovative ways to get the customer’s attention. Digital advertising continues to grow and now, as an average, soaks up a quarter of more of their automotive budgets. I think we can expect that to increase massively in the not too distant future.

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