Traditional and not so social: One of the headlines in last year’s fall was that in fear of economic espionage Porsche had its Facebook account blocked for its own staff. However, this was implemented for the staff in Europe during work time only. 30 of Germany’s DAX listed companies followed suit.
Digital and social: The much more interesting part was, that at the same time the car manufacturer initiated one of the most talked about social media campaigns: To gather one million new fans on Facebook, the company promised to engrave all their names on a Porsche as soon as the magic number was reached. When it happened, Porsche published a video on its official Facebook page as a big Thank You to all the fans, showing the process of engraving their names on a 911 GT3.
In regard to social media, the car manufacturing industry is far more advanced than other business sectors. So how important is social media for Porsche?
At the moment, the number of fans on Porsche’s Facebook page reaches 1.35 million. For a comparison: BMW counts 4.5 million fans, Audi 2.9 million, Mercedes-Benz 2.4 million, Volkswagen 700,000 and Ford almost 550,000. Just by looking at the number of fans, the campaign is a great example for a creative connection of the online and the offline world. Volkswagen was able to create a similar buzz with its Superbowl viral campaign ‘The Force’.
However, a lot of potential is wasted: The 911 GT3 is now but a part of the Porsche museum in Stuttgart – without further interaction, without further communication. Would it not be a great idea to have this ‘Facebook-Porsche’ go on tour and let fans actually touch and see their names on the car? The number of fans, i.e. reach, is one thing, but in the long run sustainable involvement as in ‘earned media’ is much more important, since it opens up numerous possibilities for a direct communication with the audience.
Porsche uses a number of other social media measures like interactive stories, pictures and videos to generate interest in its products and build the brand:
- Facebook Apps: Porsche Family Tree and Color Styler
Porsche Family Tree and Color Styler
Approximately 4,000 fans contributed to the Porsche ‘Family Tree’, where drivers of a Porsche are encouraged to tell their story and show their pictures. Via ‘Color Style’ a Porsche car model can be colored in any color the user likes and posted to the own profile.
- Foursquare: Porsche Spotting Game
During Superbowl in Dallas users of Foursquare were invited to take photos of Porsches and mark the location on Google maps, thereby contributing to a real-time gallery shown on Facebook.
- Porsche YouTube Channel
Already back in 2008 Porsche launched its own YouTube channel. Since then, approximately 300 videos have been posted and the site got around one million hits. The channel has 23,000 subscribers.
Conclusion: Traditional brand marketing goes social – this might be the best summary for Porsche’s social media strategy. The campaigns mentioned above are excellently made for the big audience and definitely make a car enthusiast’s heart skip a beat. Brand awareness is high, but more potential in regard to interaction and direct communication is wasted. Future opportunities and challenges for Porsche are to further develop and better direct communications.
[For this, new social media guidelines to ‘show face’ might be helpful, as the examples of Scott Monty, Head of Social Media at Ford and Uwe Knaus from Social Media Strategy at Daimler AG vividly illustrate with their own Facebook, Blog, Posterous and Twitter pages.]