Social business is hitting all industries and making an impact on how we communicate online. Toyota is the latest auto company to dive into social media and put some real investment in their customers. Toyota Friend is a new social network that will come equipped with new Toyota cars, starting with the company’s next battery operated and plug-in hybrid car. Toyota is figuring out how to keep their customers happy, lets hope other auto companies join in too.
Online there is a car forum/club for just about any model out there. Toyota is thinking ahead and is trying to take advantage of the opportunity here. If car owners visit forums, blogs and other tools for information and help on their cars, why not bring the social experience to customers? Clearly, they know the benefits of social media. Here are my thoughts:
- Stickyness – keep customers on your site, talking about your products and driving your cars. The more auto companies strive to keep a relationship with their customers after the purchase, the better chances of increasing brand loyalty.
- “Push” Information to Customers – the idea of the social network is to allow customers to continuously receive updated information on their car including: recalls, service info, dealer alerts, etc. Instead of making customers search for all of this content, it will be provided to them automatically.
- Increasing Brand Loyalty – brand loyalty in the auto business is a tricky subject. Several different factors come into play b/c every year theres always a new model, brand, or feature that intrigues buyers. But, if I know that when I purchase a Toyota car I will be taken care of as long as I own the car, I might be more inclined to make a purchase. Buying a car can be scary, but owning the car for the next 5 years can be worse.
Toyota is using Salesforce.com’s Chatter to create this unique experience and it should pay off. The investment will be worthwhile and at the very least it will keep customers happy. As users start to communicate with each other, Toyota may be able to learn from its customers on how to make the next best car, what the typical problems are in a car and what customers like the most about their cars — this is the data every company needs to make better products. This in itself makes the investment well worth it.