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from the L.A. Times

Toyota, looking for positive spin, turns to Twitter [Updated]

If ever there were a company in need of positive spin it’s Toyota.

Toyota With the relentless grind of safety recalls and suffering sales, the Japanese automaker has tapped Twitter to help repair its image. Toyota launched a branded channel on TweetMeme with help from Federated Media.

Called Toyota Conversations, the channel features news stories, videos and other information tweeted. It also shares tweets from Toyota’s Twitter account and its own AdTweets. Recent additions include “5 Reasons to Buy a Toyota” and “Toyota rolls out 0% financing incentive plan."

Tweetmeme channels can be programmed to pick up only select news sources. So, in contrast to the sober tone of stories in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere, the mood is positive and light. 

As TechCrunch points out, the Twitter sentiment application Tweetfeel suggests that the Twitter universe trends more negative.

[Updated at 12:21 p.m.: Matthew DiPietro, director of marketing services at Federated Media, said: "Negative stories are not filtered out of Toyota Conversations in any way whatsoever except for offensive content and the like. The channel is based on Tweetmeme's technology, surfacing the most relevant, useful content based on community activity."]

Brands have been turning to Twitter to participate in conversation with consumers and to influence how they are viewed. Now Twitter has become a valuable tool for crisis communications folks. Think Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines

"In the social sphere, it's often best to be proactive during a crisis, to let the market know you're listening, and centralize the discussion around your brand, giving the brand more opportunity to guide the conversation," Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang said. "Yet don't be fooled, on the social sphere the illusion of power is quickly dispelled, as everyone can have a say."

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Toyota President Akio Toyoda, right, visits a Toyota assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky., after testifying before a congressional committee last week. Credit: James Crisp / Associated Press  

 
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