Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Evolution of Virtual Communities

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How often do you scroll through your Facebook news feed, glance at friends’ posts and think, “I. Don’t. Care. Why would you post that on Facebook? Maybe I should unfriend him…”

This, in my opinion, is the future of virtual communities. Our current social networks appeal to a broad range of participants and consumers, but the day of the specialized online community is coming. Users are beginning to look for more targeted, niche groups to which they can better relate. Although networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn certainly aren’t going anywhere, the demand for specialized content is increasing, especially among professionals. Users want to be able to identify with the people they’re communicating with (another reason sales teams should be using social media!).

For example, although LinkedIn is primarily made up of professionals, there is a vast range of careers represented on the site. LinkedIn has recently launched a ‘Groups’ feature for more targeted connections among users. According to LinkedIn: “Many professionals advance their business goals by counting on professional groups, alumni organizations and work groups to make vital new business contacts which will enhance their trusted connections.” Google has a similar feature in which users can create circles to organize their contacts into different categories, each with their own level of access to your profile.

These niche groups will be driven by the consumers — the users — and while this is great for private users, who don’t want to scroll through annoying, nonsense Facebook status updates any longer, it could be bad news for marketers.

Personally, I think it’s going to make my job a bit more difficult. Social media marketers have enough on their plates already, right? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Quora, blogs, LivingSocial, Groupon, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, FourSquare … I don’t think I need to keep going, but there are a LOT of networks we’re supposed to keep track of, update, pay attention to and be fresh, inviting and appealing on. By dividing these networks into smaller groups, social media is presenting us with quite a challenge. Am I going to have to seek out virtual communities for every. single. car. my dealership sells? Oh, boy.

LinkedIn Corporation. (2012). Your Groups. LinkedIn Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.linkedin.com/myGroups?trk=hb_side_grps_top.

Chrysler Group & Social Media

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The Chrysler Group’s foray into social media has been a rocky one, but the company seems (at least, recently) to have gotten the idea.

But let’s start with an oops — for the exemplary purposes and because it’s funny. In 2011, Scott Bartosiewicz of New Media Strategies, a social media marketing firm out of Detroit, accidentally tweeted an expletive from the Chrysler Group’s Twitter account. Bartosiewicz thought he was logged in to his personal account and wrote, just in case you hadn’t heard by now, “I find it ironic that Detriot is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*cking drive.” Chrysler’s mistake? Sacking New Media Strategies, which, in turn, sacked Bartosiewicz. Although Bartosiewicz should have been paying closer attention, and perhaps not have tweeted such language from either account, Chrysler missed a huge opportunity to show consumers just how hip the brand has become. Social media is not traditional outreach. It is human, and tweeting the f-bomb is a human mistake. Chysler could have taken the error in stride and used it to its advantage — sponsor a driving school, promote safety features in its vehicle lineup, etc. Frankly, this incident wasn’t nearly the PR nightmare that Chysler turned it into. I wasn’t as if Bartosiewicz tweeted that Chryslers are heaps of f*cking junk. THAT would have been a PR nightmare.

The Chrysler Group took a few risks when it entered the social media sphere, particularly on the heels of its 2009 bankruptcy. Such a move could have earned the company some serious negative publicity, raising questions as to how the company could afford social media advertising and the third-party firm hired to manage its online reputation — and whether the funds were coming from Chrysler or the US government. How did Chrysler adapt? It was transparent and tweeted frequently and honestly about the decision to file for chapter 11.

In addition, the company also took some risk when it chose to outsource its social media campaigns, instead of hiring experts in house and implementing a social media policy. Similarly, partnering with Fiat and becoming involved in Fiat’s social media campaigns was also risky, as Fiat was in the process of re-introducing its Italian autos to the American market. Despite the Twitter profanity incident, Chrysler and Fiat have used social media wisely and are better off financially in the end.

So, how would you have handled the Twitter f-bomb incident?

Szczesny, J. (2012, March 8). Chrysler scores big with social media. The Detroit Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2012/03/chrysler-scores-big-with-social-media/.

Falls, J. (2011, March 28). What Chrysler did wrong: Remembering the human side of social. Social Media Explorer. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/online-public-relations/what-chrysler-did-wrong-remembering-the-human-side-of-social/.

Elliott, S. (2011, March 15). When the marketing reach of social media backfires. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/business/media/16adco.html.