Great Value Created by Toyota in Tough Market with Social Media

Great value created by Toyota in tough market with Social MediaThe international Social Media Award Show – The Bees Awards – is every week sharing some great social media marketing cases in their Newsletter. This week’s case is Toyota Sponsafier and it is made by Saathci and Saathci LA.

The challenge
NASCAR fans have long pledged their allegiance to the American-made cars that dominate the tracks. In order to grow the brand, Toyota needed to start appealing to this audience. But simply winning races isn’t enough. Toyota had to find a way to get these import-resistant fans to actually interact with their vehicles.

The strategy
Toyota’s long-time fan tracking study showed that NASCAR fans are heavily involved with social media. Nothing proved this better than witnessing the fan support when Kenny Wallace lost his ride for the Montreal race. Word got out online that if each fan donated $20, they could get Kenny back in the race. 5,000 people became his “sponsors”. That told Toyota they could interact with the fans online, but the pay-off had to be something juicy. Why be just 1/5,000th of a fan; why not have your very own car.

What they did
Toyota Sponsafier became a NASCAR-themed site at toyotaracing.com that allowed participants to design their own race Camry. Graphic elements were made available or participants could upload their own to design in 3D. But the most exciting part was the contest extension. The winning design would become the Grand Marshall car at the Charlotte race. Fans would post their entries on the site, but what really took off was their involvement of sharing their designs on Facebook and Twitter in order to drum up votes for their Camry from among their friends.

The result
– Over 9,900,000 page views were recorded
– 101,000 fans submitted designs
– 150,000 signed-up to become registered users of toyotaracing.com
– 857,000 total shares
– Over 1.3 million fans voted

So popular was this effort that a second contest was introduced to coincide with NASCAR’s “Chase for the Cup” that will culminate this season with the last race in Homestead.


Why I think this is a great case besides the obvious numbers
Great Value Created by Toyota in Tough Market with Social MediaThe Japanese brand facing the challenge of getting to the heart of fans at something as American as NASCAR is what I would call a very tough challenge for Toyota. But what better way is there to do it than involving the actual fans by offering the tribe surrounding the sport with a co-creation opportunity? It’s simple and easy to share, it’s not the first time we have seen it, but it’s still brilliant and shows there is a formula for success: namely, listen to the fans and get tem involved.

What is really clever and no doubt will be a great gain in the future for Toyota is that this campaign will move a generation – and that’s the young and next generation of NASCAR fans. Designing your own car online is a great father and son project, a kid get to design his own car with his father. Oh yes!  Are you aware of the impact the blockbuster movie CARS has on this generation – I think you do. Will this generation grow up thinking about Toyota as a Japanese brand – not likely!

Could Toyota want anything more?

Back to the challenge – and now back to season 2 of the Sponsofier project.

The heart of America lies in the American dream and this really comes out in season 2, where the winners were Jeff Hallowell and his soon Ethan. In 2002, Jeff was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and today he is in a wheel chair only communicating with the world through eye tracking computer technology tools.

Well, I need you to click here to see the video that is the American dream and story – this is how a brand touches the die hard fans of NASCAR and becomes part of the American way of dreaming and living!

Is it pure luck to touch down on a story and a winner like that? Absolutely not! Toyota asked real people, involved real life and that’s where the real stories are. This is the essence and great possibilities of social media.

An idea to take it further
In the land of possibilities and all the marketing resources, one thing they could have done to take it even further would be to develop a social game – maybe on the Facebook platform. It would have been so cool for the fans designing the cars to have a chance to compete against each other in an online game. Social games is something that we will no doubt see a lot of in the future, especially from bold and edgy companies and brands.

You can get other great case studies from The Bees by subscribing here.

Clickbait: Information overload! How can brands cut-through all the noise?

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.11.34You won’t believe the hidden message in this blog post! Or rather – there isn’t one, I just wanted you to click through and read this. But bear with me – I’m about to suggest something incredibly controversial – a never-heard-before admission by a social agency!*

As much as clickbait is the emotional catnip of our online experience and can drive consistent traffic for publishers like The Daily Mail and Huff Post who churn out multiple stories each day, it’s still hugely annoying to discover you’ve been duped by an over-excited headline promising to give you all the feels. For brands, adopting the same practice can negatively affect perception and ultimately – sales. So how can brands cut through all the sensational copy and deliver successful results without falling prey to creating clickbait themselves? How do they beat them rather than join them?

 

Platform crackdown

In the early days of social, Facebook optimised content based on engagement, meaning that if users clicked on a piece of content, it received a higher ranking in newsfeeds. In 2014 Facebook took steps to try and crack down on those gaming this ranking using clickbait, and in February this year it introduced an update based not just on what users engaged with in their feed, but what they wanted to see. Facebook’s advice is that Pages should avoid encouraging people to take action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time – meaning the latest ranking favours content that users naturally engage with rather than content that users click on through coercion.

 

Last month Instagram followed suit and announced it would alter user’s feeds to optimise the content users “care about the most”, and Twitter has also adopted a similar change (although users can opt-out and revert back to the chronological feed). The changes will hopefully make it harder for clickbaiters to game feeds with meaningless content, but the real aim for the platforms hosting is to surface more engaging content more frequently so users return often and stay longer.

 

The same goes for brands on social. If the content they produce is consistently engaging, then users will interact more frequently, leading others to discover it through preferred ranking. Ultimately, these new newsfeed algorithms exist to generate more meaningful engagement, driving not just clicks, but conversations via comments, and shares.

 

Learn and adapt

Meaningful engagement begins with relevant content that creates value for the user and the brand. While an insight-driven content strategy is key to delivering this, brands should also adapt stories and messages based on the emotional needs and behavior of their audience. This is more than just a case of ‘test and learn’ or refining what has already been done. Brands must also evolve their approach in line with new behaviors, platforms, competitors and rankings or risk being left behind by those who do.

 

A good example of a brand that does this well is Buzzfeed, who’s CEO recently shared their new strategic thinking, revealing how their objective has changed from getting users to click through to their main site to view stories, to allowing content to be consumed directly on other platforms. The new direction was prompted by analysing which content generated clicks and discovering that users prefer to consume some types of content within the platform they are already on. The company also found a discernable difference between user interactions with the same content on different platforms, demonstrating how content demand and consumption vary across sites. What spreads like wildfire on Facebook might fail miserably elsewhere.

 

Relevance is key

For brands looking to use social content to drive click-through to their site, it’s important to balance the goal of the company (clicks to eyeballs, or conversions to sales, for example) with the desire and behavior of users on different sites, and monitor response over time. Relevance is key to interaction, and brands that think like publishers will know that relevance is an ever-changing chameleon. While users are bombarded with meaningless clickbait, there is ample opportunity for brands to channel the social zeitgeist by delivering valuable content that meets audience needs in the format, time and platform that suits them. If they get this right, they won’t need clickbait.

 

At Mindjumpers we help companies and brands to think as publishers and provide end-to-end social media management across multiple markets, encompassing full social strategy, planned and reactive content creation, analysis and reporting.

 

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

 

*Don’t be naughty and scroll to the last paragraph – I’ve hidden the controversial part somewhere to optimize your dwell time in finding it!