It has been duck shooting season lately with Toyota being the duck with recall after recall and legal class actions announced after numerous faults had been discovered in its cars. There had to be some good news about Toyota somewhere and as I have been on an automotive blogging binge on social media marketing recently, I decided to look at Toyota’s efforts, to keep some perspective on the role of social media and people’s passion for their cars.
The binge on social media marketing included reviewing Ford’s social media marketing in a post “The Seven Secrets to Ford’s Social Media Marketing Success” I also had a look under the bonnet of General Motors Social media marketing forays with an article titled “General Motors Gets Into Gear With A Social Media Competition“.
The speed of the responses from Ford and General Motors Global Social Media Directors, Scott Monty and Chris Barger to the posts were to put it mildly “impressive” so I was becoming a touch more curious about how Toyota was playing in the social media pond.
So some search research discovered that Toyota was working hard at monitoring, listening and then responding to the buzz created by the brand crisis by assembling a Response team that on February 1 created a social-media response room, always staffed with six to eight people monitoring the online conversation and responding at all times. It answered consumers on its four Facebook pages; it created a Twitter chat with Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales USA president-chief operating officer; and it created two new platforms,
- Digg channel platform
- Tweetmeme channel called “Toyota Conversations” to aggregate online chatter and allow Toyota to respond directly
According to Adage “Mr. Frisbie said the Digg dialogue attracted nearly 1 million views in its first five days after launching February 8”.
Toyota has approached online brand loyalists and asked if it could repost their
- Blog posts
- YouTube Videos
on its inhouse platforms.
Frisbie said “We have proactively reached out to those creating some higher-volume conversations online,” ….. “We are creating a series of video interviews with customers, associates at our plants and some dealership personnel to tell those stories proactively on our YouTube channel and other outlets. They provide that frontline perspective and an authentic response to some of the issues we are facing right now.”
So that was part of the crisis management response that I am sure was quite successful but another article by adage also mentioned that “Tylenol, Toyota and Tiger: Almost Impervious to Flak” and the main point was that it takes a lot to ruin the image of a major brand with just one crisis.
Then I discovered the fun stuff with a Toyota social media marketing effort in the UK.
So this is a summary of the iCrossing UK, a global digital marketing agency’s report, when they ran a programme of social media activity for Toyota Great Britain to help raise awareness of its iQ city car. It was based on an iQ core blog and a series of activities designed to create word-of-mouth referrals that drove traffic to the blog and generated interest in the car itself.
So what were the objectives of the marketing campaign
1. Raise awareness of the iQ and its attributes among hard-to-reach but influential environmental, automotive and technology blogs and to connect directly with people who use social media platforms such as Twitter and Flickr.
2. Increase the visibility of information about the iQ brand in the results of major search engines via links and traffic back to the ‘This is iQ’ blog.
Note: And this is important folks “Influential blogs are ranked highly by Google and other search engines as authoritative sources, meaning that links and traffic from these sites have a more positive effect on the rankings of recipient sites. As a result, mentions and recommendations on social media sites can have a significant influence on a brand’s overall online profile that is above and beyond the simple value of the blog’s own readership”.
The attempt saw two of iCrossing’s ‘This is iQ’ bloggers attempting a 500-mile road trip in a Toyota iQ, all on a single tank of petrol. The trip would take the two drivers to 18 UK cities and every step of the journey would be shared through social media.
The drivers reported their journey on
- The iQ blog,
- Reported their status on Twitter
- Uploaded photos to Flickr
Their position was tracked via a Google Maps mashup using the GPS function on an iPhone. Given that the activity had a clear editorial rather than marketing focus, all of the creative output to these social media sites was presented in a deliberately ‘lo-fi’, human and non-commercial manner.
The social media team contacted high profile blogs to point them in the direction of the ‘This is iQ’ blog which contained all the information they needed to find out more and write about the activity. This ‘light touch’ approach meant the team generated additional links and traffic back to Toyota’s site from all coverage of the attempt.
The Numbers and the Facts from the Toyota Social Media Marketing Campaign
For the environmentally minded readers out there, on the drive, the car exceeded its official combined cycle figure of 65.7mpg, reaching 71.6mpg.
- In terms of coverage, the hypermiling activity resulted in 64 blogs, including Wired, the New York Times and Treehugger reporting the attempt
- Toyota reaching a potential audience of over 105 million readers worldwide
- It reached a possible 3.7 million in the UK alone.
- Traffic to the iQ blog increased by more than 212%
- The origin of incoming traffic fundamentally changed with visitors that were previously arriving predominantly from search engines and the Toyota website now arriving from third party sites rose from 15% to more than 50% of traffic – representing a 32-fold volume increase in referrals.
- Readers were also likely to be high value, being pre-disposed to view iQ in a positive light because of the independent advocacy of the editorial coverage
- Toyota had succeeded in reaching new audiences – readers of influential blogs who might not have otherwise visited Toyota’s site.
Toyota will also continue to benefit from the long term impact of the activity because links from influential blogs will remain and continue to deliver tail traffic to support natural search rankings.
So do you think Toyota is winning with its social media marketing?