Land Rover’s efforts to promote new models at the 2009 New York Auto Show deserve both a slap on the wrist and a pat on the back.
Twitter was at the center of Land Rover’s promotion of its 2010 models. Advertising Age reported the hash tag “#LRNY” was advertised on outdoor billboards and Taxi TVs. Also, a fledging ad network was paid to spread the word through sponsored Tweets. Automotive blogs and online publications were also a part of the company’s digital campaign.
Buzz Study says the Land Rover campaign was a success at increasing word of mouth online and cited a study indicating brand mentions are the best way to get online users to the company web site. Furthermore, overall sentiment regarding the campaign was positive.
It’s unknown whether the sponsored Tweets, which reached a reported 300,000 people, comprised the bulk of positive comments. Some Twitter users viewed these sponsored tweets as a fraudulent use that goes against the purpose of the micro-blogging site.
Discussing the ramifications and meaning of sponsored social conversations could fill an entire post. Can you pay someone and expect a truly honest Tweet? As long as the Tweeter says the conversation is “sponsored” does that make it OK? How would it affect that Tweeter’s credibility if he or she always posted “sponsored” Tweets?
Let’s just set aside the whole “sponsored Tweet” debate for a moment and consider what kind of conversation Land Rover had with Twitter users. I agree with marketing consultant Richard Stacy’s comments that Land Rover could have done more to strike up a two-way conversation. I’ll go a step further and say brands can’t be afraid to start and maintain conversations. And by “starting conversations” I mean providing relevant, honest information from the brand.
A Mashable blog post discussed a survey of Twitter attitudes that revealed “people on Twitter are truly motivated by learning new things and getting information real-time, as it’s developing.” What this study tells me is that Land Rover could have done more to guide the content in those Tweet posts.
No, I’m not suggesting a scripted Tweet sent to the masses with a link. I’m suggesting brands should start conversations that are authentic and meaningful.
Land Rover’s website discusses how the brand remains a pioneer in getting scientists, environmentalists and everyone to places they wouldn’t reach otherwise. The auto show campaign could have helped portray that image by answering misconceptions about the brand. Why not take an honest, open approach?
Brands are expected to have an authentic voice in Twitter. How to best manage and conduct those conversations, to meet both their needs and the demands of the Twitterati, is still up in the air. Campaigns conducted by Land Rover, Pizza Hut and other national brands will help write future best practices.
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