The Digital Drivetrain
The automotive world's transition into the age of digital media

Turning the wheels of change

One of the major topics our class has discussed is the trend of participatory culture, simple put; media where the producer and the consumer are in much higher levels of interaction. As I discussed in my latest post, the automotive  industry has been one of the slowest groups to change into this new age of technology. One of the first areas where the automotive companies started to break into new media frontiers is with the use of social networking websites to market their products and get direct consumer recommendations.

One of the best examples of this twitter. I challenge any of you to think of a car brand and try to find one that does not currently have a twitter. Since twitter’s popularization in the early 2000’s, many companies have seen the benefits of joining the site. For example, The Ford Motor Company has opened up not only one twitter account but eight different twitter pages. Their purpose ranges from customer service to their racing teams and offers a significant amount of information to anyone interested in purchasing a Ford vehicle. On their general purpose twitter page anyone can tweet them a question about, say for example, a warranty on their vehicle and a Ford employee will tweet back the desired information. This is a powerful marketing tool because to post to Ford it requires you to follow them on twitter and before you know it a slurry of advertisements are coming right to your twitter home page. It isn’t just Ford on twitter though, I could not find a company which did not have a twitter page. Even the more obscure brands like Fiat or Mini Cooper were popping up in searches. Twitter is now an integral part of the automotive industry.

Another social network which has seen a lot of automotive companies pop up is Facebook. With over half a billion users, the sheer popularity of Facebook is an obvious draw for automotive companies. Many see it as a way to connect to a younger generation of potential customers and get their products out on the web. Again, the Ford Motor Company has a large presence on Facbook and uses it for significant marketing. Their Facebook page currently has over 500,000 “likes” and contains a variety of information ranging from videos of their newest cars to viewer submitted stories of “Fords saving the day.”

Major car corporations are using new forms of social media to connect to their consumers and get them more involved in their marketing. The participatory marketing schemes use these networking websites to allow anyone, even you or I, to be a part of their marketing and feel like we are actually making a change for their company.

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