Toyota's Heart-to-Heart with the Media & Their Consumers...

By Rosalyn Eishen Have you noticed how more and more automotive brands are using social media to resolve issues with the general public? There’s no better way for a company to get feedback than by communicating openly with their target audience through various social media vehicles like Blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, FourSquare, Facebook, etc. Think about what happened when Toyota was recovering from their massive safety recalls.

In order to recoup and curb the reputation damage spreading out to the media and consumers, Toyata’s leadership created an online domain called Toyota Conversations. This site’s primary purpose is to share all the articles, Twitter dialogue and links concerning the company’s safety updates and field customer inquiries. Since the site’s launch, Toyota Conversations has generated more direct, positive communication with consumers. Consequently, Toyota has also maintained top-of-mind-awareness within the automotive brand category.

Years ago, companies would address and resolve issues via press releases or press conferences. These two methods are still a way to communicate with the public, but when using social media to handle customer inquiries organizations are able to address issues faster and in a less formal way. Some use social media as a supplemental platform, while others have changed their marketing campaigns entirely to incorporate these new technologies. Whether it is used lightly or heavily, social media is a proven, invaluable resource, which allows 2-way communication unlike ever before.

Let’s imagine an auto company that’s enduring some hard times (any specific names ring a bell?). The management wants to communicate a message out to the public. Sure, press releases and press conferences will get the message out, but to whom? A good portion of the population will not be reading press releases or even articles in the newspaper, yet the media and their target audience more than likely already know about the incident. The best way to reach a wide audience today is by leveraging social media networks. Auto companies are quickly realizing the powerful potential of LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, Twitter, etc., and gearing them for various matters just like this.