It’s social media that’s giving him the biggest headache.
Working out how to use websites like Twitter and Facebook is baffling car manufacturers. Most know they should be using it but to what extent, and how, is still unclear.
Chatting to Chris Brown, marketing director for Hyundai Motor Europe, I was given an incredibly honest and insightful account on life on the inside.
Brown has only just joined Hyundai from a post with Honda and at the ix35 launch in Rome we had a lively debate about the pros and cons of social media.
‘Knowing how to use these channels properly is the hard part,’ explained Brown. ‘This industry is very old fashioned and I’m just not sure that the people at the top can readjust.’
Though the real problem car firms have with social media, explained Brown, was how to control it.
‘Marketing people have a series of key messages they want to get out there, but the problem occurs when customers interact – car firms don’t know how to react when someone says what they’re trying to push is rubbish,’ he said.
‘You and I know the idea with social media is to let the message just go, and virally filter through the medium, but it’s being able to do that which can be the hard part.’
But Brown admitted he could see the huge potentials for car firms to capitalise on Twitter – and explained how customer relationship teams could react to social media chatter in real time, like brands outside the car industry, such as BT and Vodafone, already do.
‘Who’s to say that in the future we won’t have banks of large computer screens displaying what’s being said about us on social media sites and assigning customer relationship teams to tackle the problems,’ he added.
Brown was adamant too that the real opportunity with sites like Twitter and Facebook lie with the dealers. How? By actively targeting people looking to buy cars.
‘Social media is all about chatting and updating what you’re doing,’ Brown explained. ‘So if someone is talking about buying a car, dealers should be searching for that and showing them what they’ve got to offer.
‘If I was a dealer I’d be all over Twitter all of the time looking for sales opportunities.’
The marketing director went on to explain how Hyundai is planning a viral marketing campaign on YouTube to mark the manufacturer’s association with the World Cup. The carmaker plans to ask people to record their goal celebration and upload it to the video-sharing site with the best winning tickets to the matches in South Africa.
‘Social media has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for brands – all the car industry needs now is to work out how best to use them,’ added Brown.