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L.A. Auto Show: Social media plays large part in launch campaigns

November 17, 2010 |  4:16 pm

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Social media campaigns played the largest part this year of any L.A. Auto Show, reflecting the rise in Web traffic to networks like Facebook and Twitter and automakers’ increasing use of social media  to market their products. 

Almost every new car launch was live tweeted from the floor of the Convention Center Wednesday by respective company reps, and new releases like Chevy's Camaro convertible and Dodge’s Durango R/T were unveiled on Facebook and Twitter. VW got a jump on the competition by posting pics of its new Eos to its Facebook page on the night before its launch.  

Porsche hosted a live tweet chat with its chief sports product manager, Tim Cupp, and stablemate Audi granted interviews with its head of design  Stefan Sielaff  to bloggers and social media mavens before the North American debut of its A7, A8L and R8 GT  models and Audi Quattro concept. Audi also live-blogged launches for the first time on Tumblr.

Ford used social media to highlight its unveiling of the new Focus compact, continuing a social media campaign that built heavily on its marketing for its Fiesta launched earlier this year. 

It includes a virtual online test drive of a rally version of its car and a cross-promotion with the CBS show “The Amazing Race” that was featured on the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.  The company is hosting an open casting call for participants in a “The Amazing Race” tie-in at the auto show on Saturday. Prospective drivers can register at www.focusrally.com.

Noting a “marked” rise in Web traffic to Ford’s Facebook and Twitter accounts in the run-up to the auto show, Ford’s Angie Kozleski  explained: “The Fiesta movement was our biggest initiative in social media. Our challenge with the Ford Focus was how to build on what we learned. 

“The  Fiesta movement created levels of awareness for vehicles that  would take a significant advertising campaign and we didn’t have to go to these levels.

“We’re getting people to look at Ford in new ways and reaching out to individuals who are active in social media to get them  more details of product and share experiences.”

GM set up Foursquare and Gowalla check-ins for location-based social media services as part of an integrated marketing campaign including old and new media.  Lisa Gilpin of GM, who live tweeted product launches, including the 2011 Chevy Camaro convertible and GMC Granite concept at @gmblogs, said the carmaker’s social media campaigns “weaved naturally” through its more traditional press campaigns in a manner that was “consistent with how social media is becoming more integrated into our communications and marketing plans.”

Toyota, which said it hadn’t finalized its social media plans on the eve of the show, tweeted photos of the launch of its second-generation RAV4 EV powered by Tesla.  Fiat live tweeted the launch of its 500 model, and Jaguar posted images of its new C-X75 concept.

Traffic to the auto show’s official Twitter hashtags #laautoshow  and #laas spiked on the show’s opening at 9 a.m. PST, and users continued to swap rumors of celebrity sightings and new-car gossip throughout the day.  

-- Craig Howie

Photo: Volkswagen got a jump on its competition by posting to Facebook pictures of its new Eos at a pre-show event. Credit: Volkswagen.

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