A few days ago I wrote an article here asking Does social media work in the car industry? The consensus answer – it could work, but in most cases, it isn’t working (yet).
It follows naturally that I should present my own thoughts on what automotive companies can do with social media. I was going to put this all in one post, but it was getting to be too long. Instead, I’ve got a list of DO’s and DON’Ts below, and I’ll apply those in a real world setting in my next post.
Most of what I’ll write over these two posts is a blueprint for how I would have liked to organise our social media presence at Saab (the company I used to work for).
Nothing happened at Saab without a meeting. That’s just Swedish corporate culture. I attended 90% of those meetings when I was in Sweden so I can’t say that I didn’t have my chance to influence decisions there. But the final decision was never mine and Saab’s social structure wasn’t how I would have set it up if I had free reign over decisions there.
An aside: For any of my former colleagues at Saab who are reading this, neither that last paragraph or the ones that follow are intended as criticism. I don’t know if what I’m proposing here would work. It’s just my gut instinct based on experience and observation. We did some great, groundbreaking things at Saab in terms of social media and whilst I might have done it differently myself, I’m not intending to take anything away from what we actually did manage to achieve.
Please keep in mind that I’m writing this with a specific company in mind – Alfa Romeo. It should be noted that some of what I’m going to write here won’t apply to other automotive brands (e.g. can you use “Kia” and “heritage” in the same sentence, in a positive way?)
Social DO’s and DON’T’s for Alfa Romeo
- DO invest in social and look at it as a long term proposition.
- DO spread your resources over a number of social centers, but DON’T feel like you have to enter every new social outlet that comes along.
- DO build real, personal relationships with your customers but DON’T build those relationships with the primary aim of selling cars to them.
- DO allow people to have their say, but take measures to ensure that people frame their views in the right context. DON’T allow misinformation to overwhelm your discussions.
- DO make efforts to turn your customers/readers/friends into stars!
- DO make sure you leverage your history.
- DO control your message – it’s content and timing but DON’T simply re-post company press releases
- It’s OK to have some lightweight banter in your social discourse from time to time, but DO make sure that most of your content is comprised of good, solid meaty content.
- DON’T allow your social space to turn into a customer services complaints desk, but DO make efforts to help people where you can.
That’s not an exhaustive list, but it’ll do for now.
In my next post, I’m going to have some fun applying that to Alfa Romeo’s brand marketing and see if I can come up with a social framework that can build their audience and turn their fans into followers, then ambassadors.