Monday, May 4, 2009

Carz II - Land Rover Tweets; Other Autos Far Behind?

Unlike the long-term Ford campaign that I wrote about last week, Land Rover used a Twitter campaign around the recent New York Auto Show. They were introducing new models, so it can be assumed that they were looking for awareness and trying to generate buzz.

According to Ad Age
(subscription required) the campaign was executed by:

seeding so-called hashtags (words used in tweets that make it easier to follow an ongoing conversation via online searches) on billboards, taxi TVs and other out-of-home venues; spreading word of the Twitter effort through auto-obsessed blogs and online publications eager for a peek at its latest bells and whistles; and paying a fledgling Twitter ad network to spread the word among its army of compensated, heavily followed Twitter users, all of whom wallpapered their Twitter profiles with Land Rover branding. (In case you haven’t yet become a fan of hash tags, they are so popular there’s now a search engine for them.)

According to Land Rover’s agency, the campaign “cost virtually nothing.” Important note: that is media costs. I’ll bet Wunderman was well compensated for its services, and given the visible results, it deserved to be.

There was a big spike in Tweets during the period of the campaign and the sentiment was generally positive. What’s fascinating is that comments about the brand the new models looked to be positive. The negative comments were about the “sponsored Tweets.” Check it out; there’s no lack of transparency. I understand why some Twitter users don’t like it, but is it any worse than online ads, which they don’t like either. As far as I’m concerned, transparency rules!

There’s no doubt that we have a lot to learn about how to use social media in general and Twitter specifically. OneUpWeb has good advice: Brands are expected to have an authentic voice in Twitter. How to best manage and conduct those conversations, to meet both their needs and the demands of the Twitterati, is still up in the air. This chart from eMarketer (newsletter, April 20, 2009) supports that view. Internet users are negative about online advertising. If you read this chart from the bottom up, the story is that the more obvious the commercial content, the less likely users are to respond.

Are other car brands interested in pursuing social media? It seems so. Volvo recently used YouTube to introduce a new brand and it’s focusing budget on social media and search. Audi is taking a somewhat more “traditional” approach. Just this morning I got an email promoting the Audi experience and a slick new website featuring their A6 model.

Remember when online advertising was the big new thing? Now, if you believe the eMarketer chart, online advertising has been superseded by social media.

I believe the data in the chart, but not because of media channels per se. Internet users—all types, all ages—are looking for authenticity. Brands that provide an authentic voice and content of value will prevail. That’s easier said than done, but it is the challenge for marketers in all industry sectors!

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