Twitter, Twitter, and more Twitter

There’s been a lot of Twitter-related data out there recently.  Some of it comes from Twitter’s developer conference last month:

  • Nearly 106 million registered users with almost 40% coming from inside the U.S.
  • An average of 55 million tweets per day
  • 60 percent of all tweets come from third party applications
  • 600 million Twitter search queries per day

These raw numbers are impressively huge, but further context is helpful.  eMarketer reported that in 2009 around 18M U.S. adults used Twitter at least once a month (vs. almost 40M registered users as reported by Twitter), a figure that is expected to double by 2012.

Edison Research also published a comprehensive report on Twitter usage.  Among their findings was the chart below, which shows that among Twitter users, only one-third use the service at least daily.

But over half of these active users don’t post any updates.  Clearly there are many passive followers (aka lurkers) who don’t participate in conversations, but are content to just watch.  The report also notes that Twitter users are more active in other venues – in fact, 70% of active Twitter users post regular updates to some kind of social networking site.  In other words, the comparatively lower rate of Twitter participation is due to the medium itself.


I also found fascinating the link between Twitter and mobile usage.  The charts below show that nearly two-third of monthly Twitter users access social networking sites via their mobile phones, whereas that figure drops to one-third among all social network users.  In other words, Twitter users have a far greater propensity to do their social networking (whether on Twitter or elsewhere) via mobile.

My first thought was that differences in demographics might be driving this difference in behavior.  A quick visit to Quantcast showed that visitors to Twitter.com (which admittedly represents only a portion of Twitter’s user base) are older than those to Facebook and MySpace (my proxy for other social networking sites).  But that by itself doesn’t explain such a dramatic difference in behavior.

The sheer variety of methods to use Twitter contribute to its utility and also make it more difficult to measure what is truly going on.  Of course, there’s no shortage of companies trying to measure Twitter usage, so we’re guaranteed to continue seeing more data.

Dealer Social Media that Works

The modern automotive dealership has be on top of its game just to compete effectively: good lead management processes, regular inventory updates with sufficient pictures, high quality and usable Web sites, search engine keyword purchasing, etc.  For dealerships that don’t have those basics in place, diving into social media must seem completely overwhelming and quite frankly, unnecessary.  After all, what’s the point of conversing with a few hundred followers when your lead response rate is low or your vehicle pricing isn’t optimized for the market?

But social media can more tangibly create more sales.  It’s not about friends and followers jumping on your current promotion – instead, a blog can bring quality links and traffic to your primary dealer Web site.  Blogs provide inbound links, are updated frequently, and are generally published via platforms that adhere to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) standards.  Facebook and Twitter are good mechanisms to publish your blog activity and bring people to the blog, which improves its authority and further aids SEO performance.  But don’t expect unauthentic updates and Tweets to have any impact.

The content CANNOT just be about the latest deals!  If that’s all you have, then don’t bother.  Talk about your dealership and your involvement in the community.  Talk about the vehicles.  Be creative – Courtesy Hyundai of Georgia (@HyundaiAtlanta) tweets car care advice.

Marlboro Nissan offers a great case study on how to do it right.  The dealership is active across many forms of social media, particularly blogging, Facebook, and Twitter (@marlboronissan).  The range of content (up to ten blog postings per month) includes fashion, recipes, product updates, and dealership info.

It works.  Try typing in “nissan dealer” into Google and you’ll see www.marlboronissan.com show up in the top 10 no matter where you’re located.  Vehicle shoppers around the country can get linked to this one dealership in Massachusetts and may find the right vehicle for them, even if they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Third-party leads used to be the primary means for dealers to generate online sales but organic traffic has become increasingly important.  SEO is critical to driving that organic traffic, and social media – when done correctly – can play a substantial supporting role.  The case of Marlboro Nissan demonstrates how a dealership can take even greater control of its online destiny.

How Conversational are You?

My recent scan revealed that many OEMs use social media channels as publishing mechanisms.  Doing so gets the content out there, but it doesn’t allow these massive companies to actually connect with their consumers.  I thought it would be interesting to look at one specific channel (in this case, Twitter) to see the spectrum of behavior from automated news feed to highly conversational.

It turns out that many OEMs are quite chatty.  The chart below shows some relevant data (including % of tweets that are replies) for a variety of OEM Tweeters, grouped by corporate entity.  In some cases, e.g. @Ford and @ThisIsGMC,  more than half of tweeting activity is replying, which indicates a high level of interaction.  @Ford is especially active, with over ten tweets per day.

On the other end of the spectrum are Tweeters who largely push content.  Some are not surprising given the account name, e.g. @AudiUSANews, @KMA_PR, and @NissanNews@GMNewsUS even describes itself as “an automated news feed for GM.”  Other infrequent repliers include @FordRacing, @Honda, and @Scion.

Third-party sites are also active on Twitter.  @KickingTires, from cars.com, had the highest reply rate (34%) of all the third-party feeds that I checked.  Most are far lower.  Qualitatively, third-party Tweeting transcripts read like conversations with friends, often about industry news, vehicles, etc.

Many well known non-automotive companies also show high levels of conversation.  @WholeFoods, @Starbucks, and @JetBlue, among others, have massive followings with which they are extremely engaged.  Overall, the range of behavior varies tremendously.

Replies are an indicator of not only how often followers ask questions, but whether the Tweeter invites discourse.  Interactivity isn’t always the goal, as it requires some level of dedication and follow through.

Building a Comprehensive Social Media Presence

We all know that we’re supposed to be involved with social media in some way and it’s easy enough to create a blog, build a fanpage, start tweeting, etc.  The greater challenge is maintaining that commitment across multiple channels in a strategic manner.

General Motors jumped into social media years ago with its Fastlane blog, which offered a semi-direct line to GM’s leadership, including Bob Lutz.  Blogging remains the central element to GM social media presence, with frequent updates and webchats with GM executives, and additional blogs (also accessible via GMblogs.com) for Europe, Cadillac and The Lab (from GM’s Advanced Design team).  The site also includes feeds from and links to GM’s presence on other social media outlets.  I was disappointed by the lack of an obvious RSS link, since it’s an easy way for some consumers to keep on top of new postings.

Fastlane Blog

For some reason, the site doesn’t link to other official GM blogs.  FacesofGM, which is operated by three members of GM’s communication team, brings a more personal touch to GM’s online presence.  But it’s run on a separate platform that’s disconnected from GMblogs.  Then there’s GM Behind the Scenes on yet another blogging platform.  This blog reports on GM events with images, video, and audio.  The overarching goal of all these blogs is undoubtedly similar – establish a dialogue with consumers.  But there’s no interplay between these disparate entities.  People who are truly interested in GM products would benefit from being able to find all of them easily and then follow the one(s) most relevant to them.

GM also participates in other social media channels.

Ford’s social media strategy is fundamentally different.  Notably, Ford does not operate a corporate blog – instead, the company puts its resources toward other social media channels.  Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media, recently comment on his own blog that “We use all sorts of forms of social media because, let’s face it, people are using all sorts of forms.  We try to be where the mainstream are.”

Those social media channels include:

  • Twitter (@Ford, 27k+ followers).  More conversational than @GMblogs, with 64% of tweets as replies (source: tweetstats).  Other accounts include @FordDriveGreen, @FordCustService, @FordLatino, @FordRacing, @FordMustang, and @FordFiesta.
  • Flickr.  Ford actively posts images, but many come across as complete marketing spin (see screenshot below).
  • Facebook.  94k+ followers.  Ford posts topics but rarely participates in the resulting conversations.  There are other specific Facebook pages, with the Ford Mustang (423k fans) being popular.
  • Delicious.  Ford continues to actively seed links.
  • YouTube.  Also several other active channels, including Mustang and trucks.
  • Scribd.  106 documents with over 285k reads.  Examples: product sheets, financial statements, corporate info (“fact sheets”), owner manuals.  Ford also participates in conversations about the documents.

Ford brings these disparate channels together in part through www.thefordstory.com, which carries its own content (articles, chat transcripts, video, etc.) and also links to social networks.  Unfortunately, these links are often problematic.  For instance, the YouTube tab only lists three Ford accounts, even though others (such as Ford Trucks) are still active.

Meanwhile, the Flickr links require an extra click because Flickr doesn’t allow frame embedding.  Even worse, the Facebook links don’t work at all, returning a “Page Not Found” error.

Both Ford and General Motors are among the automotive leaders in utilizing social media.  But to gain a greater understanding of a truly integrated social media presence, we can consider Whole Foods.

The Whole Story blog is a comprehensive resource for all Whole Foods social media efforts.  The blog entries themselves frequently link to recipes and embed video or audio.  The video section is powered by YouTube and includes chiclets to share the content.  The Whole Body podcasts in the audio section are available via iTunes.  And there are clear links to other social media channels.

This cross-channel behavior continues across other social media.

  • Twitter (@WholeFoods, 1.75M followers).  Extremely conversational with 84% of tweets as replies (source: tweetstats), some of which direct users to Whole Food blog articles that address their specific issues.  Whole Foods also has ~240 other Twitter accounts to address specific consumer needs, e.g. cheese, wine, recipes, metro areas, and individual stores.
  • Facebook.  215k+ followers.  Video, Flickr pics, feeds from blog and podcasts, and wall posts that often point to the Whole Story blog or YouTube videos.
  • Flickr.  Photos are mostly about the stores which helps personalize this massive company.
  • YouTube.  Over 200 videos, many of which demonstrate recipes.

Whole Foods doesn’t just sell organic products – it sells an organic lifestyle and a food lifestyle.  The company engages directly with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of customers daily in its stores, so social media is a natural extension of that engagement.  Even so, the company’s coordinated social media presence is impressive.

Doing Twitter the Wrong Way

Last year, I asked “Why would I follow a dealer on Twitter?” My premise was that people will follow someone on Twitter if they can get something out of it. Too often, dealers were just pushing specials and not giving people a reason to follow them. As a counter example, Courtesy Hyundai of Georgia (@HyundaiAtlanta) regularly tweets car care tips, a topic that has the potential to draw followers who will then also receive other information about the dealer and may choose to participate in conversations.

Seven months later, Courtesy Hyundai continues to mix tweets regarding car care, Hyundai vehicles, industry data, and dealer information and now reaches 2,364 followers. The tone is conversational and there’s clearly a person behind the account as evidenced by the tweet frequency – nearly all tweets come during work hours.
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Contrast this approach with that of East Coast Automall (@NISSANandVW), shown below. The account produces over 17 daily tweets at a constant frequency throughout the entire day. Who wants to receive automated tweets at 4am? There’s almost no conversation, with few replies or retweets.
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@NISSANandVW (and related accounts @NewJerseyNissan and @TriStateVW) each have over 23k followers, which seems to have been achieved by following anyone who’ll follow back, even those accounts that are essentially telemarketing / spam. This boosts one’s follower count, but accomplishes little else.

Fortunately, East Coast Automall seems to be in the minority. Other dealers on Twitter at least attempt to use the medium in a productive way.

The tweet cloud for Suzuki of Wichita (@suzukiofwichita) demonstrates the warmth of personal interaction, with words like happy, congratulations, thanks, and welcome showing up frequently. @suzukiofwichita also frequently links to other social media content (e.g. Facebook, YouTube)

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Richmond Ford (@richmondford) hasn’t tweeted since November 2009, but still has 8,867 followers. The historical tweet stream shows a lot of brand content, especially retweets from @Ford.

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While there may be no one “right” way to use Twitter, there are clearly some wrong ways. I’ve highlighted some dealers with large followings, most of who seem to offer something of value to their followers. If you can’t do that at a minimum, then don’t do it at all.

OEM Twitter Strategies

Twitter, as does other social media, provides a means by which automotive manufacturers can connect directly with consumers. Many have jumped in – some are merely testing the waters, while others have more fully committed. Prime examples of the latter category include Ford and GM. Interestingly, both use multiple Twitter account to reach different audiences.

Ford utilizes ten different Twitter account, each for a different purpose. @Ford is the primary corporate site, tweeting about all things Ford Motor Company. There are also channels for the Fiesta Movement campaign (@FordFiesta), environmental (@FordDriveGreen), racing (@FordRacing), and even Spanish-audience (@FordLatino), among others. There is no twitter presence for the individual brands – it all flows through Ford.

GM’s twitter presence seems a little less managed. The primary channel is @GMblogs, which ties into GM’s well-established blog presence. There are two regional channels: @GMNewsSoCal and @GMTexas. And there are brand channels: @Cadillac (replacing @CadillacCulture), @Chevrolet, @pontiac, @Buick, and @ThisIsGMC.

Ford’s more focused strategy seems to have produced more traction, at least in terms of followers. Seven of Ford’s ten corporate channels have at least 3,500 followers. Some people want environmental information, while others want to follow racing. The Mustang has a loyal following. And so on.

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On the other hand, GM’s presence doesn’t seem quite as strong. Of the seven brand and regional accounts, only three have even 1,000 followers and only one (@ThisIsGMC) crosses the 2k mark. One problem may be brand affinity – how many people want up-to-the-minute news from only a specific brand?

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GM’s approach also seems to create more overlap, e.g. we see a pattern of retweeting from other corporate channels. For instance, 5% of @GMTexas tweets and 8% of @GMNewsSoCal tweets from are retweets of @GMblogs.

Other manufacturers seem to be content with just one or two Twitter accounts. This may be deliberate, but I suspect that in some cases it’s indicative of a still-conservative approach to the medium. Honda, which has been active in other forms of social media, has a corporate channel (@Honda) and an official spokesperson (@alicia_at_honda). Toyota has a primary corporate account (@Toyota, 12,460 followers) and one for Scion (@scion).

It’s important to remember that many OEMs still don’t have an active U.S. Twitter presence. Twitter is still very much at an early stage in its lifecycle and OEMs (like the rest of us) are still trying to figure out how best to utlize the medium.

Why Would I Follow a Dealer on Twitter?

People will follow you on Twitter if they get something out of it. I follow John Byrne (@JohnAByrne) of Business Week because he links to some of the best and most topical business content online. I follow automotive and Internet companies & thought leaders because that’s my field. I follow Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) because he’s one of the most creative people alive and that comes through even in 140 characters. And so on.

I don’t generally follow automotive dealers – while some are trying to engage their followers, the content is too often centered on inventory and specials. But I just added Courtesy Hyundai of Georgia (@HyundaiAtlanta) to my list. In addition to deals, industry updates, and other random tweets, the dealership recently began tweeting “Tip From Wade, Master Tech” with practical advice on topics from tire selection to fuel usage. The advice has credibility since it is supposed to come from their master technician, who I might presumably meet if I had my vehicle serviced at the dealership. A partial stream of recent tweets is included at the end of this post – here’s a sampling:

  • Tip From Wade, Master Tech: Often the decision on what tires is determined by your budget. In that case, get the best tires you can afford.6:51 AM May 4th
  • Tip from Wade, Master Tech: One of the most neglected maintenance on cars is the Air Filter. Filters resticted by 10%, increase fuel usage.8:26 AM May 1st
  • Tip from Wade, Master Tech. If your car is not labeled for E85 fuel don’t use it, because it eats the rubber protecting fuel injector seals.8:25 AM Apr 30th

The dealership should consider creating a hash tag (e.g. #WadesTips) to make this great content easy to find via searching. Additionally, the inconsistency between the dealership name (Courtesy Hyundai), web site URL (hyundaiconyers.com), and Twitter profile (@HyundaiAtlanta) could hinder branding.

Despite these minor issues, this is the kind of content that will attract followers (they’re at 980 as of May 29), giving the dealership a base of people with which it can interact, build relationships, and hopefully generate more business.

Recent Twitter Stream

  • RT Blanchardmommy My husband the new Hyundai dealer in Asheville, NC. Loving my new Genesis!11:51 AM May 21st
  • Watch this, “Angry Bosses,” Hyundai commercial. http://bit.ly/OF24011:56 AM May 14th
  • Tough day in the car business: Chrysler says 789 dealers will close by June 9th. 38,000 people will be out of work.7:51 AM May 14th
  • Rhys Millen takes us through the build of his Drift Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The Art of Speed: http://bit.ly/gJMpj1:21 PM May 12th
  • Twitter Humor:Bringing The Fun Back Into Twittering http://bit.ly/JOsx711:27 AM May 12th
  • Thought for Today”Having the best things is no substitute for having the best life”—Oprah10:59 AM May 11th
  • Wade’s tip: Speed ratings for tires determine the sidewall stiffness. The higher the speed the stronger the sidewall & the firmer the ride2:11 PM May 7th
  • Walmart $10 Gift Card when you test drive one of the cars in our weekend ad in the Rockdale Citizen on May 8th or 9th & in AJC on May 10th.2:03 PM May 7th
  • Tip From Wade, Master Tech: Often the decision on what tires is determined by your budget. In that case, get the best tires you can afford.6:51 AM May 4th
  • Tip from Wade, Master Tech: For best handling & ride quality its recommended to replace worn tires with the same type that came with the car6:50 AM May 4th
  • Today Only Special: $100 gift card to Wal-Mart with the purchase of ANY New or Pre-Owned Vehicle. Come on in for a test drive. See Donna.10:15 AM May 2nd
  • Tip from Wade, our Master Tech guy: If your car requires 92 Octane fuel don’t use 87 octane to save cash. You won’t get the same results.7:10 AM May 2nd
  • Today Only Special: $100 gift card to Wal-Mart with the purchase of ANY New or Pre-Owned Vehicle. Come on in for a test drive. See Donna.6:15 AM May 2nd
  • Hyundai’s have numerous safety features including six advanced air bags.12:57 PM May 1st
  • @LibertyHyundai Wow! Nice new diggs. Good luck with the new store.12:46 PM May 1st in reply to LibertyHyundai
  • Need Tires? Take advantage of our tire price guarantee. We’ll meet or beat any pricing on the same tires.10:05 AM May 1st
  • Tip from Wade, Master Tech: One of the most neglected maintenance on cars is the Air Filter. Filters resticted by 10%, increase fuel usage.8:26 AM May 1st
  • RT MyAtlantaFord Help us donate money for BREAST CANCER RESEARCH by test driving a car! $40 goes to Susan Komen For The Cure PER test drive!8:30 AM Apr 30th

Ford and GM Executives on Twitter

At automotive companies, Twitter participation (as well as social media in general) is usually the responsibility of corporate communications and/or marketing. Ford and GM, two of the most active automotive Twitterers, recently held sessions involving senior executives. Alan Mulally, Ford’s President and CEO, responded to questions for an hour on April 15 while Mark LaNeve, GM’s VP of Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing, did the same on May 15. The transcript of their responses is provided below.

Ford’s session was an open Q&A moderated by its Director of Social Media (@ScottMonty) and it followed standard Twitter conventions, such as incorporating the hashtag #FordCEO to make the thread easily searchable. The dialogue largely focused on the company’s vehicle line up and future product plans. The tonewas casual and well-suited to the medium.

GM’s Twitter session was used to live-publish a media Q&A that was not open to the general public. Consequently it reads more like a standard Q&A session, albeit with abridged responses. Predictably, many of the questions were about the restructuring plan and potential dealer terminations.

As they have with blogging, Ford and GM have both jumped on Twitter well ahead of most manufacturers and are using the service in part to create stronger connection with customers and consumers. My hunch is that we’ll probably see more executive participation in the near future from these companies and eventually others will follow suit.

@Ford (April 15)

  • Sorry if we didn’t catch every tweet. We’ll try to do a follow up on those questions we didn’t get to. #FordCEO11:10 AM Apr 15th
  • Alright, one more thing – Alan tells me to tell you to “feel the difference and enjoy.” And thank you. (@scottmonty)10:39 AM Apr 15th
  • We’re going to call it here, folks. Thank you for being part of this great experiment. Alan had a great time. Ford – Drive One #FordCEO10:39 AM Apr 15th
  • @BRGT350 Thank you. It is an *honor* to serve an American and global icon. ^Alan #FordCEO10:38 AM Apr 15th
  • @Jeb_Hoge Yes. Over time. ^Alan #FordCEO10:37 AM Apr 15th
  • @mpgomatic Go for it! Call me along the way. ^Alan #FordCEO10:36 AM Apr 15th
  • @poptent We love customers, and can’t get enough of ‘em. ^Alan #FordCEO10:36 AM Apr 15th
  • @mcritz We produce our vehicles all around the world. The vast majority of U.S. vehicles are made in the U.S. ^Alan #FordCEO10:35 AM Apr 15th
  • @DaveMora Yes we are – the data says every new Ford vehicle is best in class worldwide. We have a great story to tell. ^Alan #FordCEO10:34 AM Apr 15th
  • We’re going to be wrapping up shortly. We’ll see if we can continue to address these GREAT questions with Alan in a bit. (@scottmonty)10:33 AM Apr 15th
  • @mlaspina No. We are laser-focused on our complete Ford family of vehicles. ^Alan #FordCEO10:33 AM Apr 15th
  • @BrentSnavely Yes! ^Alan #FordCEO10:32 AM Apr 15th
  • @raywert We’ll be announcing that soon (Fiesta). Can’t get enough models around the world. ^Alan #FordCEO10:32 AM Apr 15th
  • @brittanitaylor Ford cares and has *great* choices. Please drive one, and feel the difference. ^Alan #FordCEO10:31 AM Apr 15th
  • @JamieGeek EcoBoost is the next dramatic step in capability & fuel efficiency in our trucks. ^Alan #FordCEO10:30 AM Apr 15th
  • @mpgomatic Need your help changing the regulations to make the dynamite new diesel to be more affordable ^Alan #FordCEO10:29 AM Apr 15th
  • @phenom1984 I drive a different vehicle each day, including the competition. Last night = Ford Fusion hybrid 41 mpg ^Alan #FordCEO10:28 AM Apr 15th
  • @lombertop The Movement is the future for creating vehicles we all really want. ^Alan #FordCEO10:27 AM Apr 15th
  • @lombertop “Moving” along really well. SO exciting & useful to gather customer input/feedback ^Alan #FordCEO10:26 AM Apr 15th
  • @WirelessLife More capability in connectivity each year. Seamless connection, information will be ubiquitous as we drive Ford ^Alan #FordCEO10:25 AM Apr 15th
  • @joelandmandy Not quite. Scott showed me your video, btw – you rock! ^Alan #FordCEO10:24 AM Apr 15th
  • @ursch1311 Yes. Soon. Such a neat drive with the additional torque at lower rpms. Yahoo!! ^Alan #FordCEO10:23 AM Apr 15th
  • @DRients Compelling vision for Ford, wonderful creative work, talented people working TOGETHER, making fabulous products ^Alan #FordCEO10:22 AM Apr 15th
  • @Mooncricket Yes. ^Alan #FordCEO10:21 AM Apr 15th
  • @Turbochacha We continue to consider this, but our focus is consistency of purpose/continuous improvement with what we have. ^Alan #FordCEO10:21 AM Apr 15th
  • @azulejost Thank you! The customer decides, and we’re SO pleased. ^Alan #FordCEO10:20 AM Apr 15th
  • @DonStugots We’re reviewing it now. ^Alan #FordCEO10:20 AM Apr 15th
  • @byronpope We are so pleased that customers are preferring Ford.(Hi, Bryon!) ^Alan #FordCEO10:19 AM Apr 15th
  • @DaveBenjamin Yes. They’ll continue to consolidate & align with successful companies. Like Ford. :-) ^Alan #FordCEO10:18 AM Apr 15th
  • @povertyjetset Yes. Ford will provide a complete family of small, medium & large cars, utilities & trucks going forward. ^Alan #FordCEO10:17 AM Apr 15th
  • @Leeanthro Great design, better fuel efficiency and safety improvements…and great value ^Alan #FordCEO10:17 AM Apr 15th
  • @paul_dB_weber We’re going to deliver the best fuel mileage forever. That’s the plan. ^Alan #FordCEO10:16 AM Apr 15th
  • @azulejost That IS the plan. ^Alan #FordCEO10:15 AM Apr 15th
  • @AtaruSVTF RE Fiesta Movement – YES. More than marketing, we’re creating our new products we all want together. ^Alan #FordCEO10:15 AM Apr 15th
  • @radiomantodd “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Go Ford, go!! ^Alan #FordCEO10:14 AM Apr 15th
  • @lombertop We are so excited about our products, transformation – we wanted to ensure we had sufficient $ to complete it http://bit.ly/IGXd10:12 AM Apr 15th
  • @BradConley Oh yeah, one more: strongest new way cool van: Transit Connect Family One ^Alan #FordCEO http://bit.ly/IGXd10:12 AM Apr 15th
  • @BradConley Strongest trucks/vans: Ranger, F-series, E-series and the NEW Transits ^Alan #FordCEO10:11 AM Apr 15th
  • @DRients Strong utilities: Escape, Edge. Flex, Explorer & Expedition. ^Alan #FordCEO10:10 AM Apr 15th
  • @DRients Stong cars: the Ka, Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Mustang and Taurus. ^Alan #FordCEO10:10 AM Apr 15th
  • @j_navarra Yes. Over time, the products will come together around the world on our wonderful platforms. ^Alan #FordCEO10:09 AM Apr 15th
  • @drivingsales We continue to work with all of our stakeholders on our plan and we will not be distadvantaged. ^Alan #FordCEO10:08 AM Apr 15th
  • @BradConley Lincoln is a key luxury brand for us, we have a completely new family of Lincolns now. ^Alan #FordCEO10:07 AM Apr 15th
  • @irasocol Re the Ka: we’re trying to understand the U.S. market needs for it right now. It’s a REALLY neat car! ^Alan #FordCEO10:04 AM Apr 15th
  • @irasocol SYNC works with most bluetooth devices. Scott says to check www.syncmyride.com for more info ^Alan #FordCEO10:02 AM Apr 15th
  • We’re going to kick it off! Follow #FordCEO on http://search.twitter.com or http://twazzup.com. First question?10:01 AM Apr 15th
  • Getting ready to kick off the Q&A with Alan. #FordCEO. He’ll be dictating responses, I’ll sign the tweets ^Alan. (@ScottMonty)9:57 AM Apr 15th

@GMBlogs (May 15)

  • Thanks for your time – LaNeve & @GMblogs9:49 AM May 15th
  • ..it’s the best option for dealers, customers, all involved. Will continue to be transparent through process- LaNeve9:49 AM May 15th
  • GM plan is different than Chrysler …9:48 AM May 15th
  • All elements of restructuring are difficult. very complicated, confusing, emotional. 30% of dealer impacted- LaNeve9:48 AM May 15t
    h
  • @polybi2 I guess that’s what happens when you ask Tweetdeck to shorten the post :) I’ll repost thx for FYI.9:47 AM May 15th
  • …Auto Task Force/Treasury thinks it’s a good plan. – LaNeve9:46 AM May 15th
  • A: no one has seen list – even Auto task force – they know of plan, but they did not see list…9:46 AM May 15th
  • Q: what did treasury say about plan? ask to change?9:45 AM May 15th
  • think it’s a win win to give low performing dealers opp to wind down w/ support. Best way to handle – LaNeve9:45 AM May 15th
  • at end of 2010 expect btwn 3600 and 4000 dealers- LaNeve9:45 AM May 15th
  • GM will continue into future w/ full availability of replacement parts.- LaNeve9:37 AM May 15th
  • Stand behind our products, best warranty, gov’t stands behind our warranty. GM will continue in future, will assist in building strong GM…9:37 AM May 15th
  • A: plan to wind down,so no immediate implications. Will wind down and direct to other dealers, transition…9:37 AM May 15th
  • Q: ppl who are interested in buying GM Products, but concerned about vehicle support- warranty, parts, convenience. Thoughts?9:37 AM May 15th
  • we owe it to our dealers to be as straight and fair as possible – LaNeve9:36 AM May 15th
  • right number of dealers is within 3,600 dealers – same in or out of Bruptcy – LaNeve9:36 AM May 15th
  • A: No. restructuring business and dealers needs to happen – same plan in or out of bankruptcy – LaNeve9:36 AM May 15th
  • Q: dealer action today indication of bankruptcy?9:36 AM May 15th
  • Most dealers getting letters today =dealers below state average. Should not be surprise what scores are/relative performance.- LaNeve9:36 AM May 15th
  • Dealers get quarterly performance summary from GM, index measuring performance vs. state average.9:35 AM May 15th
  • 1100 dealers getting letters today rep. 7% of sales in 2008 – LaNeve9:30 AM May 15th
  • A:2010 is when most contracts expire. those receiving letters can opt to act earlier – LaNeve9:29 AM May 15th
  • Q: time table diff than Chrysler – why 12/2010? why not sooner?9:29 AM May 15th
  • A: letter advises dealers we advise them GM w/n renew contract. dealers have to decide and think about options -LaNeve9:29 AM May 15th
  • Q: : legal contests and action – do you anticipate? Increase risk?9:28 AM May 15th
  • A:Not considered – the criteria was based on performance/sales/violation of franchise agreement – LaNeve9:28 AM May 15th
  • Q:do you have any sense if dealers notified today also had Chrysler franchises? double whammy?\9:28 AM May 15th
  • GM does not “own” dealerships-rather, have a contracted franchise agreement with them. They are independently owned businesses.9:26 AM May 15th
  • industry is down. Critical to have healthy, viable dealer network that attracts business and can compete – LaNeve9:24 AM May 15th
  • dealers are not a problem they’re an asset. too many dealers =problem. – LaNeve9:24 AM May 15th
  • will be painful, but a good move for GM and the reaming dealers – LaNeve9:23 AM May 15th
  • Move we should have taken years ago, but we have no choice but to take it now – LaNeve9:23 AM May 15th
  • “Very difficult process, one we took seriously and did with a lot of deliberation, checking data, made sure it was as right as we could “9:22 AM May 15th
  • Different from Chrysler’s program – not immediately closing dealerships, it’s a wind down. Much better situation for us and them – LaNeve9:15 AM May 15th
  • follow up w/ dealers in june w/letter suggesting business transition/migration of customers w/support from GM – LaNeve9:15 AM May 15th
  • Notes outline future plans for GM and those dealerships were not part of future plan and contracts would expire 4Q 2010 – LaNeve9:11 AM May 15th
  • sent 1,100 notices, not termination notices – LaNeve9:11 AM May 15th
  • @staubner The call is not open to general public – invite only9:11 AM May 15th
  • “GM restructuring plan has started- it’s difficult to understand, but want complete transparency” – M.LaNeve9:10 AM May 15th
  • GM VP of Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing Mark LaNeve to hold media conf. call @ noon. we’ll tweet questions from media and answers

Do You Know Your Grade in the Automotive Twitter-space?

It’s clear; everyone is frenzied over Twitter. Consumers are engaged by the transparency offered by brands and pop-personalities, while brands are attempting to quickly grasp the latest online curve-ball that’s truly swept us away to a whole new tworld. In the automotive tworld, no matter what Twitter’s role is in your marketing plan, keeping regular tabs on the health of your profile should be a targeted goal. Thankfully, countless online sources have addressed this need with introductory twips (or tips for the unfamiliar), best practices, and metrics.

Profile stats can be found on Twitter-Friends and TwitterGrader among many others. These two sites in particular don’t require a password to access information, and both sites were recently blogged about here. TwitterGrader specifically provides an out-of-100 grade for all profiles. Since anyone can reference information for any profile, sites like these provide a quick side-by-side comparison of your profile and your competitors’ profiles.

Among a handful of automotive OEM profiles (found via Twellow) the front-runners according to TwitterGrader are @GMBlogs (with a total “Grade” of 99.8, and rank of 4,222), and @Alicia_at_Honda (99.5, and 3,162 respectively). Additionally, it appears that @Ford, @GMBlogs, @Alicia_at_Honda, and @ToyotaNewsRoom each return the follow gesture from each of the members of their flock, while @Chrsyler, @eMercedesBenz, and @NissanNews tend not to do so as much. If your utilization objectives for Twitter include an ear to the ground, following those that follow you is square one.
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As for my selections in Third Party sites, @Edmunds grades the highest even though @KelleyBlueBook out performs all others by number of followers as well as how many profiles they follow. Profiles like @AutoTrader_com and @DealerAdvantage make strong statements by following more profiles than follow them. Furthermore, @Edmunds has tweeted a total of more than three times that of the next highest tweeter in this group, and maintains a decent sized following.
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For a benchmark, here are TwitterGrader’s stack-up of some popular personalities on Twitter:
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In any case, whether your company’s Twitter profile(s) is alive and healthy or still in its infant stage, keeping an eye on your stats as well as those of competitors can serve you well. At the end of the day what’s most important is not that you are using Twitter, it’s how you are using Twitter, and by monitoring profiles you can discover obvious successes of others and certainly points of twopportunity for your company.

I’m certain there are new tools surfacing daily – what other Twitter tools do you use?

Use Twitter to Track what People are Saying about You RIGHT NOW

As everyone knows (or is quickly figuring out), Twitter enables real-time microblogging, with information and news being disseminated almost instantaneously. Some automotive companies have chosen to be a part of the conversations, but Twitter still offers tremendous value even for those that don’t join. Companies can learn a lot just by listening.

Back in September, we posted Do-It-Yourself Blog Monitoring to show how anyone can quickly set up a free social monitoring solution. The three primary elements are:

  1. Staying on Top of the Conversation
  2. Tracking Volume Trends
  3. Alerting, e.g. if you anticipate a negative perception / PR issue

These same three elements can be implemented for Twitter.

Staying on Top of the Conversation
Even if you’re active on Twitter, you can’t possibly follow everyone who might be talking about you. Fortunately, Twitter allows anyone to search across all tweets and also delivers updated results via RSS. The search results for “GM” on April 3 are shown below.
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Tracking Volume Trends
Twist makes it easy to track Twitter trends, as shown below with the terms “GM” and “Ford”.
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Chatter for both terms was consistently low until March 29, when news of Rick Wagoner’s resignation from GM first leaked out. GM-related chatter spiked the next day and then rapidly fell off. There’s no straightforward mechanism to save search terms, but one possible workaround is to embed dynamic charts into a non-public page that you can periodically check.

Alerting
Set up search results (as described earlier) via RSS with appropriate and specific terms, e.g. “<my brand /> hate”.

Conclusion

Twitter is still new enough to the scene that the available tools are rudimentary compared to the wealth of mechanisms that can be used to analyze blogs and message boards. But, as shown above, tracking the pulse of conversations related to your company is not difficult. And there are plenty of other great ideas out there on how to monitor Twitter – here’s a couple of additional resources:

Monitoring Dashboards: Why every company should have one

How to Monitor Online Conversations