Social Media Aids the Brand of Toyota

Toyota’s aggressive social media efforts are helping it to avoid losing the public’s trust in its product.  Toyota actually has grown its Facebook fan base more than 10% since late January, around the time of the marketer’s Jan. 21 recall announcement and its Jan. 26 stop-sale date. Toyota’s secret weapon: using one of the most important tools in a crisis-communications handbook: social media.

The marketer has been faulted for communicating too little and too late in traditional media, but it’s gone all out when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social-media channels. Prior to the recall, Toyota didn’t have a reputation as an aggressive social-media adopter, yet it’s managed to increase the number of fans on its main Facebook presence (from 71,600 to 79,500) over the past five weeks and, starting Jan. 21, it became a far more active user on Twitter.

Around Feb. 1 it created a social-media response room, always staffed with six to eight people monitoring the online conversation and responding at all times. It’s answering consumers on its four Facebook pages; it created a Twitter chat with Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales USA president-chief operating officer; and it created two new platforms, one with Digg and the other on Tweetmeme called “Toyota Conversations” to aggregate online chatter and allow Toyota to respond directly.

Moreover, Toyota has approached online brand loyalists and asked if it could repost their tweets, blog posts and videos on its platforms. The car maker obviously can’t control what people say about it on blogs or Twitter, and to its credit Toyota is letting the naysayers take their swipes on its own platforms like Facebook.

Michael Bush has the full story on Advertising Age.