You may have noticed that GM and Ford have escalated their social activities at NAIAS this year. It was reported that GM and Ford had between them invited hundreds of folks involved in the various forms of social media.
We know that The Colonel was walking the floor of NAIAS, lets have a chat and see what he has to say:
Q> Colonel where there a lot of "social media" folks at NAIAS.
A> You think I was out there counting people...from what I heard (same as you) there were more than the previous year. NAIAS is a hub of media activity from all over the planet...been like that for years.
Q> Apparently customers were invited...GM invited brand Super Fans and Ford probably did something similar.
A> GM is actively involved in Grassroots Communications through the various social media platforms. Inviting folks that are passionate about the product at the show that is on their "home turf"...good move...why not.
Q> Seems that it rankled some folks.
A> Its a huge world, where anyone and everyone can publish, and everyone is entitled to his opinion. Keep in mind that NAIAS attracts the individual that tells you he knows nothing about cars or the auto business, to the experts and everything thing else in between, accompanied by a good amount of posturing.
A> Spare me...you are not so naive...lets leave it at that...
Q> Is there a trend?
A> Manufacturers are increasingly involved in reaching out to "people" through the various social platforms, and inviting people to participate in various initiatives. Manufacturers are getting closer to their customers, potential customers, prospects.
Q> Manufacturers are reaching out and engaging.
A> Exactly...when a "passionate customer" is invited to NAIAS its an incredible experience for the customer, reinforces his loyalty to the brand, makes him a stronger brand ambassador on the social platforms.
Q> Could it be a case of the empowered customer, being further empowered by the manufacturer.
A> Precisely...its huge, its awesome for the customer. These customers meet executives at various levels in the company, they exchange contact information...its a powerful/compelling message on the part of the manufacturer.
Q> Who else is invited...
A> Auto bloggers, social bloggers, influential folks that are online, customers, assembly plant employees. Its simple...what most folks read about social media...these manufacturers put it into practice, actually engage, and execute the engagement.
Q> Assembly plant/line employees that are unionized?
A> Yes...how often does one experience this microcosm of the auto industry? Its a unique experience.
Q> Sounds like a lot of work?
A> No kidding...if you are in the car business, you are in the people business through cars. When you start engaging people you start working...always been like that...now you can engage more people, quicker, faster, in more locations, and its more work....
Q> No dealers...
A> For a myriad of reasons inviting dealers could get "complex"...at some point dealers should participate in their own market areas.
Q> Dealers should be aware that customers are invited...
A> Any dealer that is active in the various social media platforms will know instantly that customers are invited, its a very transparent medium. At the same time not only is the customer empowered by the all the information that is available; some customers are empowered by the manufacturers.
Q> Its business...
A> Absolutely, its using social platforms to conduct social business, to create customers, to sell vehicles.
Q> Its also engagement...
A> Yes...the auto industry is complex, the more folks you can engage the better it is...for everyone involved.