Ford and Toyota on Two Ends of Social Media Marketing

All new Ford Figo

The auto industry still seems to be in turmoil, with American manufacturers still struggling with their re-branding efforts and foreign car companies beginning to face their own marketing woes. Social media may seem like the likely answer for overcoming many of these advertising obstacles, but can it prove to be the kind of savior such a large industry seeks?

It just may be. Ford has taken to social media marketing for all of these reasons, hoping to get ahead of the curve on leveraging online outlets to push their message through. A more recent effort for Ford’s social media marketing was the Fiesta campaign, which relied on a handful of bloggers and social media users to drive the car for a period of time and publish their thoughts to the world.

So far the campaign has been relatively successful, especially when you consider that Fiesta’s objective included bringing a European concept of a smaller vehicle to the states. This kind of re-branding effort requires a little more than television commercials and magazine ads. Given the dire state of the auto industry, several companies seem to be taking on as many marketing campaigns as possible, hoping one sticks for a while.

And this isn’t the first time Ford has turned to social media marketing. The auto manufacturer has been edging its way into social media for years now, with the ability to make an impacting difference just now coming into alignment with a campaigns’ intentions. The added inclusion of certain technology in several Ford cars also appeals to the typical social media user, as mobile networking and car-computer integration becomes more of a priority.

On the flip side is Toyota, which is dealing with a recall, several lawsuits and a dying public image. While Toyota hasn’t necessarily turned to social media marketing in order to regain the public’s trust, it is an avenue for dealing with its current debacle. As the entire company’s practices regarding safety, profits and the prioritizing of its consumers comes into question, Toyota maintains that its focus is indeed on the customer.

Dealing with the recalls has meant poor earnings for Toyota, with a severe domino effect having been set in motion. Toyota has said that it will be more upfront and proactive regarding its communication with consumers in order to overcome the bad rep it has gained, knowing the long road ahead. Such upfront communication could be done through the use of social media, in conjunction with its other re-branding efforts. While this is something Toyota may or may not do, it is an option available to the company.

Social media marketing has become mainstream enough to become an effective means of advertising and spreading a brand’s message. Car companies are realizing this at a time where social media may actually be able to help the auto industry as a whole re-brand itself for the future. The future of cars has a heavy focus on things like green tech, safety, and affordability for our current economy.

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  1. Kristen Nicole says

    Also true. I think there’s still an important distinction brands need to remember, in talking at their consumers via social media outlets, and talking with them.

  2. says

    I agree with Tom. Another point to consider is that most consumers do not want to be marketed to on their SM site, but they may want to communciate. BIG difference.
    Marketers need to be mindful of the gap between how people choose to communicate with friends and family, and how they want marketers to communciate with them.
    I own a Toyota and used to own a Ford. I never heard anything about the Fiesta plans(directly from Ford anyhow) and have not received a single piece of info from Toyota to reassure me of their commitment to a quality product. I’m no fan/follower of either.

  3. says

    I agree, SM marketing hasn’t become the focal point of many large businesses’ strategies just yet, and I think your point can be applied to an even larger aspect of marketing, beyond that of social media.

  4. says

    One thing to consider here. The SM marketing is the tail, not the dog.

    It doesn’t matter how good the SM marketing is if the product isn’t.

    Doesn’t matter if you ignore SM marketing if the product is great.

    SM marketing makes small differences around the margins, and in support of long-term focused overall marketing strategy – which I believe is the case with Ford. (Heads down, great product, taking their message directly to the people.)

    Tom O’Brien
    MotiveQuest LLC

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