photo from bazaarblog
Ian Greenleigh at Bazaarblog writes about how Toyota was able to counter a trending “negative online sentiment” through a story donation campaign on Facebook.
Kimberley’s social media team saw an opportunity to rebuild trust in the Toyota brand after last year’s high-profile recall. They saw an increase in negative online sentiment that they needed to address, and they realized that the traditional route—“talking about ourselves”—wasn’t going to do the trick. Instead, they devised a way of encouraging their customers to share positive sentiment online with each other (and prospective Toyota customers) through a clever campaign called Auto-Biography. “It’s what everybody else says about Toyota that matters,” said Kimberley. First, they asked owners to share their experiences on Toyota’s Facebook page, from the “wonderful,” to the “crazy,” to the “not-so-happy.” Stories could be text, photos, videos, or all of the above—a rich mix of user-generated content.
The campaign, so far, has resulted in the submission of over 13,000 individual stories, and has been seen by nearly 150,000 visitors. Thousands of these stories were about safety, and served collectively as a powerful asset to counter the public perception of Toyotas as unsafe. The submissions were overwhelmingly positive, but negative stories were not censored. To “extend the life of the content,” as Kimberley put it, six stories were selected for conversion into minute-long animated shorts which have had close to 100,000 views since October.
What strikes me, as I’ve started exploring the sense that Social Media operates through a Gift Economy – explicitly written about yesterday – is how opening up a space for stories (and not really complaints) is an act of generosity. That is, Toyota offers its social standing to carve out a media space for others, conferring importance upon itself, a sense of surplus, and in turn users feel a surplus in themselves when they donate a story or experience to the space. It is not just “we want your feedback” or “we care about you”. It’s reciprocal and always asymmetric acts of donation, gift giving.