Cars are excellent products for social media marketing as they attract passion and fierce brand loyalty. Manufacturers can also take different marketing approaches to suit their various models and the kinds of people who buy them.
Holden has recognised the importance of social media for some time and recently embarked one of its biggest online campaigns to market the launch of the new Australian-built Cruze across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Leading the charge is the company’s Social Media and Digital Communications Manager, Andrea Matthews, who says social media is now a key component of Holden’s product launches. “There’s strong consideration for social media across everything we do.” says Matthews. “But you won’t see us “doing social” just for the sake of it. It has to fit with the campaign and the customer.”
While Holden has a large social media presence and following, with almost 175,000 Facebook followers on its main site, Matthews admits the company is still coming to grips with the opportunities social media offers to its marketing efforts and ways to provide customers added value.
One thing the company does seem to recognise is that social media marketing needs to be, well, social, meaning there needs to be a balance between a carefully planned social media campaign and genuine public engagement. “We’ll time our Facebook/YouTube/Twitter updates so that colleagues know where they appear in the overall plan, but we don’t script our interactions too much,” says Matthews. “It can make the updates far too stilted and not at all natural.
”I feel our social media activity has already moved a long way from just “broadcasting” what we want people to hear.
“We’re listening too, and that’s a strong message.”
When marketing a brand with so many devotees like Holden, getting a strong response via social media is the easy part, but are there any drawbacks?
“Holden has always been a social brand and with such a strong fan base. That has definitely played in our favour, but it is not without its challenges,” admits Matthews. “With such a rich motoring heritage, we have fans who for whom Holden equals high performance V8s only. We also have fans at the other end of the spectrum who drive our small cars and are equally passionate about them. That’s quite a demographic range to reach in a single forum like Facebook.
“That’s one of the reasons we established a stand alone Facebook page for our small car lovers, to give them a place to share their enthusiasm outside of the V8/historic car discussions which were taking place on our brand Facebook page.”
While social media is proving successful for Holden, Matthews says it’s difficult to accurately gauge its performance within individual marketing campaigns. “That very much depends on the objectives you set for the campaign,” she says. “If the objective is around building product/brand awareness and purchase consideration then it can’t be isolated from all of the other things we do as marketers and communicators.
“I’m also not sure that I’m keen on the idea of stand alone social media campaigns – we consume media and messages in so many different forms that social can’t sit on its own. To be used most effectively, it needs to be fully integrated with all of the other brand/customer touch points.”
Finally, if she had to choose just one social media platform to promote Holden’s brand which would it be? “It would have to be Facebook, because everyone is there,” says Matthews. “And with the changes to Facebook, I think brands have got a greater opportunity to build out their content.
“In fact, I think we’re really just learning what opportunities it offers to us and our customers.”