Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twitter as a Marketing Tool: The Interview v.2

As part of my Internet Marketing, Public Relations, and Advertising class at St. Bonaventure University I am to interview five different marketing professionals who use Social Networking as a marketing tool.

What is your title and can you provide a brief background on Honda?
Supervisor, Corporate Communications. I'm responsible for American Honda's corporate social media program and also handle corporate announcements/events and serve as a company spokesperson. In addition, I manage marketing communications for Honda's ASIMO humanoid robot in North America.

About American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Honda is celebrating its 50th anniversary in America. It began operations in the U.S. in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Honda's first overseas subsidiary. Honda started U.S. production in Ohio in 1979, and began U.S. automobile production in 1982 at its Marysville, Ohio auto plant. The company has invested more than $12.2 billion in its North America operations, including 16 major manufacturing facilities employing more than 35,000 associates. Honda plants have the capacity to produce more than 2 million products annually, including Honda and Acura automobiles as well as motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, lawn mowers, general-purpose engines, and the advanced light jet, HondaJet.

How long have you been using twitter as a marketing tool for your company?
Since April 2008

What other social media outlets do you use?
Currently I use YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and FriendFeed in addition toTwitter. Other Honda divisions use additional outlets like MySpace as well. Do you make your tweets personal or strictly business-oriented? They are all Honda or industry related but I definitely insert some personality into it.

What do you feel are the benefits of this marketing tool?
I've found that there are a variety of benefits:

  • Provide me with a direct line to communicate to consumers/customers/enthusiasts - Gives a personal touch and entry point to the "big," "corporate" Honda brand
  • Affords me an opportunity to share tidbits that might interest my followers but not otherwise be news release worthy
  • Great way to listen to what is being said about the brand to identify potential issues, concerns, feedback, etc.
  • Led to stories about Honda in blogs as well as "traditional" media
  • Aids in customer retention by identifying/elevating concerns as well as thanking customers
  • Bonus: a couple customers have said they've actually purchased a Honda because of engagement with me on Twitter

Do you find that social media marketing takes away from more important tasks because you have to be available to your followers at a moment’s notice? I don't feel that I'm obligated to be available to followers at everymoment. That's the just a part of the nature of Twitter. But I do sometimes find it hard to peel away from Twitter and focus on other things needing my attention... I like social media after all and it’s easy to get lost in the fun stuff! Social media at this time is just one part of my job but, I do make an concerted effort to respond as timely as possible because clearly that's when you are the most helpful and get the most out of it.

Do you consider social media to be of high importance in your company’s marketing plan?
To date, no, it really hasn't been of high importance but it is definitely ever-increasing in importance across all of our Honda divisions/products.  Some groups like our Auto Interactive Marketing group have long been engaged in place like Facebook and MySpace. But, I'm now getting a lot of calls from around the company and am encouraged to see more and more of our marketing teams engaging in or considering social media.

Have you found that your company has increased their brand awareness and acceptance through utilizing social media marketing?
We're in a lot of lines of business with a variety of brands/products in each so this is a big question but overall, yes, our social media efforts have definitely had an impact.

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