Posts Tagged emarketing

Mazda’s social media zoom

Most automotive websites are essentially big advertising sites focused on one way communication with customers. Mazda, however, have revamped their approach to bring the essence of the zoom zoom brand alive online, both on the website and within social media channels – and many seem to like their new direction.

As noted elsewhere, ‘prior to the development of the site Mazda lacked a social network and community strategy, with no official Mazda Australia presence on Facebook, Flickr or YouTube and a tactical attempt at Twitter’.

Recently launched (with the help of igloo and Sitecore) the Mazda Australia website is now an integrated social media and community portal aimed at user engagement and interaction. In agreement with Alastair Doak, National Marketing Manager at Mazda Australia’s comments, the new site ‘enables new and existing Mazda customers to engage with the brand and connect with other Mazda enthusiasts on a more personal level’.

The Mazda Community’ features heavily at the forefront of the site, and users are encouraged to contribute to photos and galleries online; access news, competitions, event information and ambassador profiles; and ‘ask an expert’ a Mazda question. Live tweets appear – on the community homepage – and there are links to community forums, blogs and reviews. Interestingly, many of the links go outside of Mazda to owners’ club sites, commercial reviews and independent blogs.

And for those of you with a keen eye, you’ll notice that as you navigate around the site, the page background images change to feature photos contributed by Mazda Community members.

With social media integration, an improved technical infrastructure and information architecture overhaul, the site undoubtedly provides a more engaging and informative user experience and fast-tracked calls-to-action, making it easier for users to book a test drive, locate a dealer and request a brochure. Customer service issues and vehicle questions are now being raised and responded to online and through social media channels.

Within two months of launching the new site the spike in user interaction was already noticeable, with a 52% increase in site views, and brochure requests rising by 36% over the same period. Today, Mazda Australia has an official Facebook page with 2351 fans, a Twitter following of 2392 and a dedicated YouTube channel where viewers can access commericals and videos about Mazda vehicles, concepts and designs, events and motorsport, in addition to videos posted by community members.

Mazda have undoubtedly committed significant resources to this emarketing and social media strategy, and will need to continue to do so in an effort to monitor and manage their social media presence while keeping the community interested and engaged in their activity. If they haven’t done so already, they should also consider implementing policies regarding employees posting on blogs and websites on behalf of the company.

With the help of igloo, Mazda Australia appears to have established the foundation and direction of a successful social media strategy. I commend their decision to enlist the assistance of an agency in planning their jump into the social media, and hope to see them continue to move forward in this space.

References:
CIO 2011, ‘Mazda Australia zooms ahead online‘, viewed 16 April 2011.
Australian Creative 2010, ‘Mazda’s new digital offering by igloo‘, viewed 16 April 2011.
David Scott 2010, ‘Mazda Australia social media Zoom Zoom‘, viewed 16 April 2011.
Mazda Australia 2011, viewed 16 April 2011.

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How can associations and their members benefit from e-marketing and social media?

Undoubtedly, there are many organisations that have jumped into the social media space without much consideration regarding whether doing so actually provides value for the organisations itself, and professional associations are no different. Establishing and maintaining a social media presence isn’t for everyone, and I would encourage any business considering emarketing and social media to step back and take the time to examine their goals, objectives, target markets and stakeholders.

Certainly planning is fundamental to ensuring an effective emarketing strategy that forms part of an integrated marketing and communications effort whilst also supporting overall business strategy and objectives. Too many associations treat social media as a one-way broadcasting self-promotional tool – it is social media – the focus should be on building relationships that are interactive and mutually beneficial for the association and its members.

So, what are the potential benefits?

Administration expenses – slashed
The web has revolutionised membership operations. What once took many staff hours to coordinate the complex and labour intensive task of enrolling members and renewing their memberships can now be completely automated using online member management solutions, meaning membership revenue can be redirected to providing member benefits instead of administration.

Email marketing
Cheap, reliable and effective email hits the spot when it comes to timely promotion and information sharing with members. It is measureable, permission based and has significantly reduced the cost of membership communication.

Online directories and portals
Many organisation websites offer a comprehensive directory of members which not only provides a great way of finding members but also assists their search engine optimisation with a highly relevant link to member blogs and websites.

Real-time ongoing focus groups
By setting up ‘listening tools’ and being present and responsive to social media platforms, associations can learn about member needs, get feedback on services and ‘crowd source’ ideas for education and events. In this way, social media can be a listening post and early warning system.

Peer-to-peer networking
Through social media, associations can host peer-to-peer networking, helping members build relationships with other members. Relationships built online can then be further strengthened at conferences and other face-to-face meetings – even online-only relationships can bring value to members.

Extended conference experience
Creating a community not only during a conference but also before and after will help to extend the experience. Conducting webinars and screening session recordings online enables members to experience sessions they may have been physically unable to attend.

Platform for credible information sharing
Professional organisations can be a platform for sharing online news, information and professional development resources – think of associations as curators of relevant information in our information overloaded society.

Interaction
Through social media, professional associations can not only build relationship with members, but also with new and traditional media, policy makers and their staff, industry influencers, prospective members, exhibitors, sponsors, conference speakers and attendees.

I reiterate that social media is not for everyone – although, as outlined above, the possible benefits it may afford are certainly worth consideration when deciding whether or not to enter the social media space.

References:
T. M. 2010, ‘How can associations benefit from social media, viewed 9 April 2011.
Reardon, C. 2010, ‘The best eMarketing techniques for member organisations, viewed 9 April 2011.

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