Social media to charge the electric car market
With the electric car market finally firing volting up manufacturers are turning to social media to inform and inspire a still skeptical public. General Motors this week is using its considerable social media prowess to build buzz behind the Chevy Volt electronic vehicle (EV). The momentum is already starting to build on the walls of Facebook.
GM, which is trying to wiggle out of government control with a possible IPO next month, isn’t planning an elaborate traditional marketing campaign for the small-production Volt; just 10,000 will be built for model year 2011. Instead, it wants to create a long term discussion with a strong community feel for eco-minded drivers so that the market can build on itself from the ground-up as more people invite their friends to take part in the discussions. Code for: GM will no doubt invest a greater portion of the marketing budget for Volt into social media. For example, Mary Henige, Direct of Social and Digital Communications at GM, detailed how the Volt started its online buzz-building efforts months ago as a sponsor of the very geeky SXSW conference, a partnership, she said in an interview with AutomotiveWorld.com recently, that was all about community:
My team took the idea of sponsorship to Chevy. We suggested that this was a fabulous thing for the brand, and that it fits perfectly, especially with the Chevrolet Volt. The Chevrolet marketers agreed. Having the community involved in your social site is really the way forward.
True to form, the Chevy Volt Facebook page, now 33,600 fans strong, is filled with discussions weighing the economic costs/benefits. The enthusiasts are quick to answer the questions of curious newcomers. Some of the questions are pretty oddball (see below). The Volt’s Twitter and YouTube channels, meanwhile, are pumping out informative videos and articles to 4,316 and 715 followers, respectively.
This isn’t just a GM thing, either. This electric wave of social media chatter is being orchestrated by other EV brands as well. The Nissan Leaf EV, for example, which is being marketed as the most economical, no-emissions vehicle on the market, has a growing Twitter following of 5,050 followers. The Nissan Leaf Facebook page already has 72,100 fans participating in active and informative discussions, and it is complimented by 37 Q&A videos built right into the page. The Tesla Roadster EV, which is being marketed at a more sporty consumer from a higher income bracket, has a produced a Facebook page of 18,500 fans displaying a series of discussions of why an electric sports car is just as hot as a top-of-the-line Italian gas guzzler.
Either way, the pages are building a community and a market through educational and informative content that the eco-concerned public seeks. The message may have fewer marketing bells and whistles, but the up-sell is no less ambitious: to improve the planet.