Honda Finds Permanent Perch On Facebook

everybody knows someboday wholovesahonda

Until August, Honda had been reticent about using social media platforms in a big way. The company had a MySpace page for the Element, and started dabbling in Facebook with the Fit compact car, and more recently, the Insight hybrid. Then, this year, Honda told its agency, Santa Monica, Calif.-based RPA, that it needed a plan to talk about Honda's core values but on a tight budget.

Thus began the Facebook-centric "Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda" effort launched in August without ad support. Last month, the Torrance, Calif. automaker added traditional media directing consumers to Facebook. Ads show real Honda owners talking about themselves and their cars in sliding pane-like frames that go from one owner to the next. Each owner is somehow connected to the previous one.



The ads illustrate the Facebook page's operating principle: that Honda owners can use the site to link to friends and acquaintances, creating a global web, demonstrating how everyone who owns a Honda is connected to everyone else.

Joe Baratelli, SVP and creative director, and Jeff Moohr, management supervisor, both at RPA, say the effort, which has garnered some 250,000 Honda "fans" and 360,000 of their friends, will continue: there will be new interactive elements on Facebook, new online ads and new vehicle-specific pages on the social media site. "There's a real potential for continued communication; this is just beginning," Moohr tells Marketing Daily.

He says that member numbers jumped after Honda added one-day takeovers of sites like YouTube, Yahoo, CNN and Facebook. The company is also touting it prominently on its own site.

"It really is an awareness campaign on a limited budget," adds Baratelli. "It's also illustrating that Honda can be successful at a two-way dialogue. [Honda] was reticent about that kind of dialogue. You open yourself up; it's risky, but with the success of Fit and Insight with Facebook, they were able to see the advantage."

Moohr says the goal is not about feeding offers or using Facebook to do CRM. "It's about outreach and building community, or 'tribes'."

The just-launched second phase of the program is an app developed with Facebook that shows an exploded, interactive view of each person's web of contacts. Baratelli says the next phase will involve new apps using fan stats. "And we will keep doing ads, mostly online," he says.

But the key will be to let the site's members do what they will without Honda adding offers, ads, or one-to-one marketing. Honda will be doing much more of this kind of work going forward. "It's always gong to be part of the mix from this point on," says Baratelli, "whether it starts out as the center of the campaign or not."

1 comment about "Honda Finds Permanent Perch On Facebook ".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, November 11, 2009 at 2:34 p.m.

    I think the concept is neat. It could even be hosted on the Honda Website. Long term what do they do when a new Social Media site takes down Facebook, which will happen, not if. So maybe permanent on Facebook....but Facebook is not permanent. So it might be worth having it hosted/linked on the Honda website long term.

    That all being said I am a Fan of about 100 pages on Facebook. I rarely go to any of those fan pages. And when these pages post to the news feed I only view my front page. So unless it is there...right there when I log in...vs being bumped off the page as updates are added, I won't see it. With people pressed for time, and using social media primarily to keep up with friends/family(my use of it), I am curious how Honda will get people to give up some of that precious time to converse about the brand on the Fan Page. Its people shopping for cars they are after the most right? Google/Bing searches for Honda should have the Facebook fan page on the first page of results to really have an impact.

    As for the strategy itself. People talk about cars every single day off line. And they see cars every single day off line. As well as Ads for cars every single day outside of social media. So I am curious how they will measure the ROI impact if it can be measured on their sales volume.

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