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Subaru and social media marketing: a great example

June 27, 2010

Hanging around the marketing forums – as I tend to do on a Friday morning – I found myself continually encountering the topic of investing in social media. It seemed that pretty much every blog or feature story I came across talked about how advertising needs to be more targeted and relevant to the audience or the community.

This sounded sensible enough, although not earth-shatteringly pioneering in concept. Targeted advertising, of course, has to be more effective than untargeted advertising, right? But even if it was – or is – possible to target advertising with laser-like accuracy, I couldn’t help thinking that most of these marketers were completely missing the point.

Here’s why.

A couple of weeks ago, our interactive director, Chandler, sold his suped up 768bhp Subaru Impreza. For the record, Chandler is a performance car nut. Regular cars disappear into Chandler’s private garage and come out ready to compete in Whacky Races. Among other things, he will strip down and rebuild the engine, lower the suspension, tinker with the injection system and play around with the fuel mixtures until he is confident that not another single drop of power can be squeezed out of the car. Then, and only then, will Chandler re-introduce the vehicle to the road.

As you might expect, Chandler hangs out on performance car forums, where he shares advice, links, content, ideas and opinions with other, equally passionate and geeky (sorry, Chandler!) car crazies.

Last week, Chandler saw his dream car advertised for sale on an Acura NSX owners community website. Just one of 275 silver models imported from Japan in 1991, the car was just right. The price was just right, too, as was the condition. Unfortunately, the location wasn’t. The seller lived in North Carolina, an eight-hour drive north from Atlanta.

Not wanting to let the opportunity pass him by, Chandler reached out to his car community for help. Within just a few hours, he had received emails from several N.C.-based members offering to take a look at the car on his behalf. One guy even offered to put the NSX through a 150-point checklist and email a comprehensive report – for free!

Based on the support, feedback and advice from the community, Chandler was confident enough to hop on a flight to Raleigh Durham to go view the car for himself and make an offer. He drove the car back through the night to Atlanta.

This is what communities are all about – complete transparency, selfless acts of goodwill and a desire to help without expecting anything in return.

If your social media strategy is focused on how to advertise to targeted groups like Chandler and his performance car buddies, your efforts are going to miss the mark. The currency for investing in social media is time, passion, interest, contribution and a desire to act in the best interests of the community at all times.

Nothing else cuts it.

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