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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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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chrysler Group's Mopar Takes a Page from Ford and GM



The social media road trip/rally/race/whatever is so common it’s becoming a bit cliché and in my former days listening to media companies and social agencies pitch ideas there was always some effort that involved putting celebs, comedians or everyday people into cars to share their experience across social media by giving them a car and some challenges to do.

The latest example of this model comes from Chrysler’s performance division Mopar: The event is called Moventure. Get it? They had a call for submissions for filling ten teams that would drive Chrysler division vehicles from Detroit to Golden, Colorado at the NHRA Mopar Mile High Nationals, a “full throttle drag racing series.” The team with the most points stand to win $5,000 in Mopar parts and accessories.

Each brand (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat) has two teams of two with challenges all along the way to the final destination, think something similar to Chevy’s SxSW Road Trip from 2010 and 2011. It’s kind of funny that my article on the Chevy event garnered a comment stating “*waits for Chrysler to emulate Ford’s Fiesta Movement, just like GM did? ;-p” Apparently the answer is July 2011, sort of.

This is coming out of the Mopar division, not the parent company, though looking how it’s being shared on twitter the Chrysler brand twitter accounts and Chrysler PR people are Retweeting content from the Mopar teams, similar to what happened with both GM and Ford events.

Fiesta Movement was very different from this model. It was 6 months with 100 cars given out that gave time for participants to build an audience. A more likely Ford use of this template was the Ford Fusion Relay Race that used similar teams on a short multi-day road trip.

The Mopar event participation is like others who have blazed this social trail. Most of the social conversation is from the teams with the brand (or agencies) supporting the conversation through Retweets and @ mentions on twitter. There is some video content too that’s being created but as you can tell (image at right) the views are pretty low even after 24 hours since posted.

I really wonder about if these events are worth all of the effort. I’m sure blog coverage is a big win for the organizers and for this Moventure contest. So far there has been zero coverage from the top two automotive blogs – AutoBlog and Jalopnik; however, there was coverage from Car & Driver, Torque News, and CNBC (they reprinted the press release verbatim.)

What is success and what is a good amount of social conversation and who it was from is rarely discussed because no one ever goes back and evaluates their effort against competitor efforts. This I know after actively following many over the years, it’s 90%+ people involved in the effort who discuss and socially share it (team members, brand, and agencies.) There is very little spillover effect unless you really invest big dollars engaging celebrities, philanthropy and market the hell out of it – think Mercedes Tweet Race – or you do something more involved like the 6-month Ford Fiesta Movement.



In full disclosure, I have some good friends that make up two of the teams on this road trip and I really do wish them well. From what I can tell they are doing what they can to generate interest and discussion about their involvement. It’s just that no one really cares, except those participating, when it comes down to it.

I’ve seen the output reports on efforts like this and everyone shows an impressive looking number of “mentions” and a summation of all the video views/comments/tweets, and then some screen-shots of blog coverage and well that’s it and off everyone goes to the next project. I expect Moventure is no different and that's not a criticism of the Mopar effort. It's more a result of how this model historically works.


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Toyota Targets the Backseat Driver



Here is one way to create early brand loyalty. Toyota Japan has created a game called Backseat Driver that gets your children involved in where ever you are driving and may be a good option after they've bored themselves of playing Angry Birds for the 1 millionth time in the car.

The application is available for download on iTunes.

To play the application you have to be moving because the app moves the car using your phone's GPS movements and when the car turns the car in the game turns too. I suppose you could walk your backseat drive, but sitting stationary results in a boring game.

Your child can even share their customized car on twitter, something my 5 year old twins will definitely not be doing.

It is a fun way to make driving a bit more interesting for your child and I can't wait to test how long it holds a 5 year boy's interest. We'll see.

Thanks to @SphereTrending for sharing this on Twitter.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Looking Into the Share of Voice of Volt and LEAF



This blog has followed a lot of the marketing efforts of two very compelling vehicles from the past several years: The Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF. Both cars are currently taking charge (pun intended) in the battle for green bragging rights with consumers and now Nissan has thrown a new punch at its Chevy competitor.

The new ads feature life with gasoline fueled appliances. The ads look into the continued dependence of gasoline engines as an old technology that is far behind the times, of course most of Nissan’s own portfolio of vehicles are hence old technology, but this is about green bragging rights and Nissan showcasing its competitive advantage.

Chevy has ensconced its Volt as a fighter of “range anxiety.” Range anxiety is the uneasy feeling that one’s all-electric vehicle may run out of charge before reaching the owner’s destination. Chevy has a backup gas engine to avoid such moments of concern, of course that’s pretty expensive backup plan but thankfully both the Volt and LEAF gain from current $7,500 government incentives to offset costs.

I wanted to take a look at how performance for both of these vehicles is doing online and worked with some great people from MutualMind here in Dallas who ran some social media analytics against the two cars for the week of May 29 - June 4, just to get a peek at what is going on in the social conversation.


IMG 1: Brand Hits refer to the Nissan LEAF, Competitor Hits to the Chevy Volt



It’s interesting to see they are both neck and neck as far as coverage, mentions of the two vehicles are with the Nissan LEAF having a slight edge, but that may be due mostly to the new ad campaign that is gaining some visibility internationally since it is creatively similar to a Renault ad running in Europe.





Sentiment is where the data gets a bit more interesting. Negative sentiment for the Volt is almost two times higher than it is for the LEAF, but that’s only half of the story. Positive sentiment is 34% higher with Volt than LEAF. What's this tell us? At least in social media conversation, Volt is a more polarizing vehicle meaning people are either defending it or criticizing it.

There are some rumors circulating around GM doing an all-electric Volt (GM has denied this.) It’s highly doubtful GM would use the same vehicle name (or even the same brand Chevy) to compete more directly with Nissan’s LEAF and Ford’s coming Focus EV. Like the hybrid market, the electric-vehicle (EV) market is sure to get very competitive and not be as simple as evaluating two primary competitors.

For now though, it is interesting watching these two solutions from two big brands battle for the hearts and minds of the green crowd as we move into the Post-Prius green vehicle movement.

Later this week I'll be sharing some of my personal thoughts on the Chevy Volt after driving one several days.

Thanks to Babar Bhatti from MutualMind for providing me with some great data. For more information, please contact:






Company: Mutual Mind
Website: http://www.mutualmind.com/

MutualMind is a social media management and intelligence platform that enables businesses to monitor as well as promote brands on social networks while providing actionable analytics and insights to increase social media ROI.

MutualMind offers a platform that allows users to aggregate and analyze feedback and conversations regarding their products or services on all of the major social media platforms. While many alternatives on the market today are limited just to listening or publishing, MutualMind’s has taken its value proposition further through the ability for users to actively engage with and manage the various social media outlets.

The functionality of this platform can be used for a myriad of business applications including: measuring market receptivity to products or services, tracking consumer or political sentiment, reputation/crisis management, generating sales leads, benchmarking versus competitors, and customer relationship management to name a few.


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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, July 6, 2011

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: June 2011



It's another million fan milestone for BMW this last month as they crossed 6 million fans and have annihilated the challenge they were receiving from Audi earlier this year. It's tough to say how much of BMW's fan growth is due to sheer brand advocacy or how much of it is due to marketing efforts from all of its International markets. What is known is that the BMW team is leveraging the behaviors of the Facebook platform in creative ways.

Take for instance the latest activation from BMW where they are showcasing their Two Originals hommage promoting the original 328i with a revised future 328i concept. Part of the effort is a Facebook application that let's their fans create their own film and personal expression that they can then share with friends. It actually gives people a reason to share. It's not just a share button next to a video or promotion asking people to simply "like" a post. This is content integration that is creative and self-expressive which is what social media is all about.

The BMW example pulls in photo content from a Facebook profile and uses that to express the person's originality. It's not too much different than a recent viral execution from Intel called the Museum of Me that also recycled a user's Facebook content for brand benefit.

Meanwhile other brands continue to buy ad units promoting their page. Of note in June were some significant ad buys from Fiat USA who seemed to have an ad pushing their fan page to me about every second or third time I logged into Facebook, oddly I've been a fan for several months. Lexus also ran some ad units that drove to their fan page which accounts for their double-digit 10% growth in June.


Mazda, Dodge and MINI also experienced some decent fan growth in June. Dodge is expanding their social presence and activating some attention to the SRT brand with its Driving SRT and SRT Track Experience fan pages. Oddly the primary Dodge fan page does not "Like" these pages. Though fan growth for Dodge is not really being driven by the SRT pages; instead, Dodge has been running ad units also promoting its brand pages last June. I did not run across media for Mazda or MINI in June, but that's not to say there was no media or promotion through other mediums like email.

Overall it was a pretty slow month in June for automotive Facebook fan pages. The latest development is Google+ in the past week and already Ford has created a page. Perhaps someday this report will be looking at Google+ Circle numbers.




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