Should Auto Companies Be on Facebook?

September 16th, 2009
No love on Facebook...

No love on Facebook...

There are over 250 million people on Facebook.

That’s like the population of four Englands, so it kind of makes sense to advertise there, no?

I’m not just talkin’ banner ads, either (anyone still click on those?). I’m talkin’ a full interactive presence that sites like Facebook offer. For most companies a Facebook presence is a no-brainer. If you’re an auto company, though, I’m not so sure. The problem? You lose all control of your marketing message, and that’s not good if you post pictures of a car no one likes.

Take Honda, for example. Remember the Crosstour, that unfortunately shaped wagon Honda is creating to do battle with the Toyota Venza? Well, people hated it. A lot of people. And they weren’t shy about letting Honda know their feelings on Honda’s own Facebook page after photos were published there. Suddenly a marketing plan meant to sell cars turned into an all-out Honda hate-fest. Can you say corporate nightmare?

...for the Crosstour

...for the Crosstour

The Honda spectacle is sure to be studied in future college marketing courses as an example of corporate social networking gone horribly wrong. So how can it be done right?

Ford’s corporate page is a bare-bones place to dump press releases and link to its fan page for the Mustang. That’s a strategy that has virtually no risk, because Mustang fans are devoted and passionate, sure to slather nothing but praise on the car and future variations of it. It’s a smart move by Ford, as evidenced by all 323,000 Mustang fans it has on Facebook.

Then there’s Volkswagen, which has a nifty app on its page that analyzes your profile information and matches you with two possible V-dubs. (I’m a Tiguan or a Jetta SportWagen. What are you?) It’s clever, interesting, and most of all, it gets people curious about the brand. Then they tell their friends. Brilliant.

And speaking of apps, if you’re on Facebook, check out Car IQ. If you think you know cars, this will either prove you right or force you to bow to the true masters. It’s cool… and addicting.

Should car companies be on Facebook? Which ones are doing it right? Also let us know how you do on Car IQ!

-tgriffith

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