September 6, 2010

Can Facebook Help Repair Toyota's Image?

Stuck gas pedals…faulty floor mats…out of control cars…millions of recalled vehicles. The Toyota brand has taken a major hit over the past year. So when Toyota went looking for a way to turn the tide of public opinion, the automaker called on its ace in the hole: the loyal Toyota customer base.

It started with a new advertising campaign rooted in social media. In July, Toyota started asking longtime owners to share their own stories about their cars and trucks on the company’s Facebook fan page. Toyota seemed to recognize it was taking a chance by letting outsiders control the message. Just look at the disclaimer on Facebook:

“FYI: These are the words of our owners, not us. We love ‘em but that doesn’t mean we agree with everything they say here.”

Toyota produced a few video examples of the “auto-biographies.” Testimonials, especially on video, can be a very effective means to get your point across.

“Every Toyota has a story” on Facebook now features more than 6,000 unique tales. 180,000 people have clicked the “Like” button on Toyota’s Facebook page. It will take much more than one campaign to convince prospective car buyers that Toyota’s are safe to drive again. But by using the stories from their devoted customers, Toyota is taking a step in the right direction.

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