It is widely known that General Motors paid for my travel and accommodations for the Detroit Auto Show. In fact they even asked me in writing to disclose it on anything I write about the show. This was part of the new full disclosure rules the FTC has imposed on all bloggers beginning at the end of last year. General Motors was quick to mention that by them paying for my travel and accommodations I was in no way obligated to write about them or anything for that matter.
I was one of over 10 bloggers brought to NAIAS as press by General Motors. Most manufactures bring certain people but General Motors put a specific emphasis on bringing social media people. Both General Motors and Ford have been the “poster child” automotive companies in the social media industry. Sure Honda made a “splash” when they did the striptease of the Crosstour on Facebook. Most would have called that a colossal failure when the burn it with fire comments started pouring in. As I mentioned Ford and General Motors in general are really using social media though they are taking vastly different stances with it. General Motors does have it’s social media team on Twitter but really it is the brands and products that have accounts.
It was very interesting to witness how the “traditional media” reacted to all the social media people being around. I am fairly certain the game is changing and they are not exactly happy about it. Traditional media people have yet to figure out how to play nicely with social media types. The funniest part is many of the traditional media will write their information once back at work yet the article and or pictures will not be published for days/weeks/possibly a month. Yet they must get that picture before me or anyone else there for social media. Social media buffs are publishing this stuff live on the spot using our phones and laptops. We are connected (when we have signal) and are reporting live and on site.
That leads to another issue that has cropped up with the use of social media at an event such as NAIAS. Live and on sight I was reporting the information as it was literally being spoken. People on Twitter following me were getting the information as I received it including pictures. The challenge was that the ten other people sitting around me are tweeting the information out at the same time. How do I differentiate myself from these other people. Sure we all took different pictures and different angles, but the information, specifications, general information, is all the same. Social media types run in similar circles, many people that follow me also follow the people I was with. Realizing this early on I had to differentiate myself on Twitter while I was there. I could report what others were sure, but I had to have something else. I realized how lucky I was to have been afforded this opportunity. I decided I would try and make it so others that were not there could get whatever they would want. I tweeted numerous times asking what people wanted to see. When requests came in I obliged and took the corresponding photos. Some other blogs actually asked me privately to take photos for them and I did. Many people asked me to take a look at certain things and report back which of course I did. Then something else happened. General Motors set us all up with small round table sessions with some of the executives. I instantly saw an opportunity and tweeted out who I would be meeting with and when. I told my followers that if they had any questions for these people to let me know, and I would be happy to ask. I took video of all the round table sessions and have already up loaded this. Of course I asked the questions that came in off Twitter.
On Monday evening I realized that many pictures I had taken included the models posing with the cars. I decided to tweet out a bunch of the photos and hash tag them with the keyword #EyeCandy. This quickly turned into a “series” and people loved it. The last thing I decided to do was simple. There were plenty of models posing with cars and at the Fiat stand they had two girls to go along with the two 500’s. On the second day the two girls in the morning appeared to be twins. When I over heard someone saying they were I tweeted this. Soon I heard Jalopnik saying they were not in fact twins. Seeing that my eye candy series had been such a hit I decided to go and put an end to this debate. I walked up to the “twins” and simply said there was talk about whether they were in fact twins and asked if they were. They immediately said they were and I tweeted “BREAKING- The Fiat twins are in fact twins!” Of course this tweet started a whole new discussion. I also happened to learn that the twins live in Minneapolis about 15 minutes from where I live. After having a conversation I left them to continue modeling and went back to the business of walking the show. All of this gave me personality. It was something different then just reporting the specifications/information about the cars. When I got into the Lotus Evora I tweeted about how it felt like a glove when sitting in it.
The Ford area was one of the best consumer booths of the show. They have everything from interactive computer simulations to transmissions torn apart, just about anything. The booth itself is utterly huge. Ford also had some customized Fiesta’s strewn about so people could get an idea about the level of customization these cars will have.
It is clear to me that social media is making an impact both in how manufactures are advertising and how they are handling themselves at autoshows. It says something to me that the two auto manufactures most involved in social media are Ford and General Motors. The point of all this is embracing new ways to communicate is something that forward thinking companies are doing and we should all take note.
Full Disclosure- My NAIAS travel and accommodations were provided by General Motors