Facebook Or Face-To-Face: How Do You Learn About New Cars?

January 12, 2011
The plural of Prius Facebook campaign from Toyota

The plural of Prius Facebook campaign from Toyota

An article came across the news feeds yesterday suggesting that manufacturers of green cars rely more heavily on social media than other automakers. Eh, we're not so sure.

It's true that different markets need to be reached in different ways. Pickup truck buyers, for example, have traditionally preferred learning about new rides from their dealer, friends, or online fan forums, not social media. For marketers, that's meant putting in face time with intensely brand-loyal shoppers and doing special, in-person events like the sneak-peek test drives Ford recently arranged for the 2011 F-150 with EcoBoost.

But even that's changing: as we saw in the recent Max and Al campaign for the Chevrolet Silverado, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can all be leveraged to sell pickups. Social media is simply part of today's marketing landscape: not including it in a marketing plan is crazy talk. That applies to EVs like the Prius (which just launched a "What's the plural of 'Prius'?" campaign on Facebook) and to combustion-engined rides like the 2011 Ford Explorer (which recently held its big debut online). 

True, social media is a great way to spread information quickly, particularly among enthusiast communities (e.g. hybrid fanatics). Doing so is especially important for new cars and new tech -- after all, the quicker you explain a product to the public, the quicker the public can start buying it. But that dynamic doesn't just work for green rides; Ford's Fiesta Movement still stands as one of the most effective social media campaigns on record, but as fuel-conscious as the Fiesta is, it's not, technically speaking, green.

What we really want to know, though, is where you get your information? Online? Through apps? Brochures? Print magazines? Or is it a combination of those? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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