Ongoing List of Social Media Examples in the Auto and Car Industry

Social Media Marketing adoption has spurred forward with the technology industry, as well as with consumer and lifestyle products, when people are passionate about a topic, the want to talk about it. The auto industry in the United States crosses so many of those themes, it’s ripe for social media marketing (providing your technographics indicates your customers are going to engage).

Here’s an ongoing list of Social Media examples, and resources:

Chevy Tahoe “Create you ad” – 2006
Perhaps one of the earliest examples (and boldest) was the advertisement where anyone could create their own Chevy ads. Many anti-SUV/Auto ads appeared, and some suggest it was a failed campaign. I believe it was a success for the very reasons it was criticized, at least GM took a bold move to embrace what everyone was talking about, aside from the residual buzz from the campaign itself.

Jeep’s Have Fun Out There
To me, this is really a great way of reaching with these tools, rather than create all the content themselves, Jeep has aggregated content from the community. I’m sure it’s been filtered, so nothing inappropriate is added, but it’s a good way of letting the community ‘drive’ their own agenda. Essentially they are “fishing where the fish are” by linking and aggregating communities where they already exist on flickr, youtube, and facebook.

Has launched several campaigns such as this ‘create your own profile‘ for your social network, featuring Honda Pilot. Other examples inlcude Acura TSX Facebook page, and a Honda YouTube channel that features a variety of innovation lead videos.

GM launches a Community program -2008
From Neville and Shel of the For Immediate Release program (podcast) “GMnext is more or less a year-long online initiative around the 100th anniversary of the company. Here’s a bit of an overview in the event it’s close to what you’re looking for. Shel did a few podcasts when they launched.” Aside from this community initiative, GM continues to push the envelope and has created a ‘social media newsroom‘.

Chrysler Listens with Insight Community -08
Forming an online community is one thing, but using it to listen to customers, then making changes is another. Chrysler has launched a Customer Advisory Board that allows customers to be involved in a two way dialog to make suggestions. This one was powered by Passenger, see list of other insight vendors.

Mini’s Owners’ Lounge

By creating an extranet for customers, Mini has let their owners self organize, self-express, and communicate.

GM’s many blogs
This Chrysler auto focused blog is rich with media, appears to be frequently updated, by void of many comments. Of course many of you know the GM Fast Lane blog, which has been around since 2005, authored by employees such as Bob Lutz, and the GMNext blogs.

Jeep’s Patriot Adventure: Choose your own Adventure -2008
Really an example of interactive marketing, not social media (aside for videos going on Youtube) Jeep launches an interactive campaign where members can direct which choices video actors make. If you don’t know the difference, you can read the many forms of web marketing.

Ford’s Social Media Press Release
I’ve never really understood the value of the social media press release, as I’d rather see corporations/employees joining the conversation, as the level of trust will be higher. In any case, Ford has developed a social media press release for it’s cars, the layout and visualization of the cars looks fantastic.

Toyota: Master of Africa -2008
I applaud this community site that talks about 4X4 best practices and sharing, as it discusses not only the sponsored brands’ discussion of their products, but other companies. Great way to really join the authentic conversations that the market will already have, and attempt to build trust.

Scion Speak let’s owners self-express
By encouraging owners to create their own personalized emblem, they strengthen member affinity. This is really an example of interactive marketing, not social media. Now, if members were able to take that emblem to their social networking site, then it could spread. Also, there should be a way to print out that emblem and adhere to car.

BMW 1 Series Graffiti Facebook campaign -2008
This is perhaps one of the best case studies of brands getting social media right, like the Dell Regeneration campaign (both by Federated Media) BMW reaches to existing Grafiti users to draw what they think the BMW 1 means to them “What drives you?”. The result is astounding, thousands of beautiful pieces of art created, and spread across Facebook.

Saturn gets Community -2008
I’ve always been impressed with the friendly Saturn brand, from user group sponsorships to the no pressure selling, they offer more of an easy going lifestyle brand. Now, their online community reflects their ethos, with groups, member profiles, and other social networking features

Nissan Finland launches Social Map Mashup
This interactive map let’s members upload their destinations and images and let’s them share with others. It’s themed around the various offroad vehicles, trucks, and SUVs by Nissan. It looks like it’s a flash app, but I question if that’s very useful for mobile users.

United Auto Workers Community
The UAW, according to Chuck Gose, “allows workers to submit their stories to about what it means to be a part of the UAW and then other readers can comment or rate the story. They can also submit video.”

Castrol runs a social networking site for car enthusiasts
This ‘gear head’ community gives an outlet for those passionnate about auto mobiles, see the in depth profiles, featured cars, and discussions at motoraddicts

Daimler launches German blog
This German blog by Daimler appears to slowly get traction, a smattering of comments, and posts since Oct 2007, this could be a great way to reach a unique audience. Thanks to Stefan for the submit.

Various Brands: Social Networking Campaigns
Many of these are too minor to point out individually, but there are dozens of brands that have created social network marketing groups or campaigns, and thousands of groups created by owners themselves, a few examples:
BMW, Facebook

Staffing and Resources

Ford has hired Scott Monty to lead the Social Media Practice -June 2008

Additional Resources

AARF: Headlight

Avenue A Razorfish, an intractive firm that is now focusing on Social Media under the direction of Shiv Singh has a blog focused directly on the innovation of the auto industry, when it comes to marketing.
iMedia has an article on what Social Media Marketing means to auto brands, worth a read.

Minor Social Networking Campaigns
Of course, it’s important to note there are hundreds, if not thousands of online communities created from avid owners, such as this, and dozens other that create groups within social networks. Quite frankly, many brands are missing the opportunities on social networks, when the apply the traditional marketing efforts to a social environment. Go to Facebook, MySpace and do searches in groups and on the search bar to find more.

Owner created Communities
Of course, it’s important to note there are hundreds, if not thousands of online communities created from avid owners, such as this Mini, and Acurazine, both thriving passion communities. There are marketing opportunities, but most brands monitor, but don’t participate. Apparently, an owner created community called VW Vortex has been supported by VW themselves. (if you’ve details, please leave a comment)

Ratings and Reviews Sites
This list can be long, so I’ll just give a few examples such as Edmunds Forums, Yahoo Autos, and I’m sure there are hundreds more.

If you’ve other examples of Auto companies using social media to connect with customers, please leave a comment.