Car makers join the Twitterati

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Internet technology is not only being built into cars, car makers are using Internet social media to engage with existing and potential customers. Of the top ten selling car brandsi in Australia, eight are using Twitter. Many brands not in the top ten are also "Tweeting" to connect with their audience.

Toyota, Holden, Ford, Mazda, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru and Honda - all in the top ten selling brands - have Twitter accounts focussed on the Australian market. Only Mitsubishi and Volkswagen do not have an Australian-specific Twitter presence, although they both do have a local presence on Facebook and YouTube.

The top three

Toyota - the number 1 selling car brand in Australia - keeps followers of @Toyota_Aus advised about new products, marketing initiatives and awards. However the company also uses the channel to provide information about charities the company supports, competitions, motor racing results and recruitment opportunities. They even upload Instagram images!

Toyota Australia on Twitter: Supporting customers and integrated with marketing initiatives

Holden's social team are prolific on Twitter. @holdennews regularly responds to comments and questions from Twitter users, and includes hash tags like #Holden where appropriate. They support marketing initiatives such as their sponsorship of Channel 9's Big Brother, and even get involved in the political debate around the Australian car industry by promoting activity by the company's Chairman and MD Mike Devereux (@MikeDevereux), also a Twitter user. Holden also personalises their Twitter presence by letting users now the names of staff looking after the account.

Like Holden, followers of Ford Australia's Twitter service - @FordAustralia - are told who tweets for the company. Ford uses Twitter to support marketing initiatives and engage with their audience by asking questions. Ford's Tweets also respond to the questions of existing and potential customers.

Wide appeal

Most of the car brands on Twitter personalise their presence with branded background graphics, icons and more. The background graphics are frequently in tune with current marketing the company has out in print, on TV and online. Plus they regularly include promotion for other online initiatives such as Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as company blogs. In some instances the background graphics focus on a campaign for a particular vehicle. Where relevant, companies Retweet comments by others.

Honda Australia on Twitter: Build an app, then promote it through Twitter.

Five other car brands in the top ten have Twitter accounts. Nearly all include a degree of promotion for vehicles as well as direct customer engagement. Mazda (@MazdaAus) are active Tweeters and include lots of photos and motor sports news. Hyundai (@HyundaiAus) use Twitter as part of the company's sports and promotion campaigns. Nissan (@Nissan_Aus) do a good job of promoting their Facebook and social media campaign initiatives. Similarly, Honda (@honda_australia) promote their iPhone showroom app and iPad magazine app, as well as competitions. Subaru (@Subaru_Active) has a strong focus on the sports their customers engage in, and their Twitter presence reflects this with tweets on cycling, triathlons and ski resorts.

Other brands that communicate with customers on Twitter include BMW (@bmwau), Kia (@kiaaustralia), Jeep (@jeepaustralia) and Skoda (@SkodaOz). Audi has a twitter account dedicated to the Audi A1 model (@audia1_au).

i VFACTS, Media Release, 2012, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, New vehicle sales top the million mark in 2011,