When the recall crisis hit, the social media team members at Toyota knew they were going to have to play an active role in rebuilding the brand’s reputation and getting back the trust of their consumers.
They realized that as a company, Toyota was not very good at talking about itself , whether the news be good or bad, and that during this crisis, talking with consumers was going to be a critical part of getting back the brand loyalty lost during the recall.
Kimberley Gardiner, Toyota’s national digital marketing and social media manager, and her team realized that what they really needed to do was augment their social media strategy. Here’s how they did it:
- Get the executives up front. Toyota’s U.S. division CEO, Jim Lentz, went on Digg to answer questions from the community during the peak of the recall. Putting the company’s leaders out there to answer questions helped build humanize the brand.
- Create positive news. With all the negative sentiment about the brand, Toyota created new, interesting content that sparked positive conversations. Its “Swagger Wagon” viral video campaign was used to launch a new Sienna minivan. It received more than 11 million views, and people still talk about it months later. It then turned this campaign into a competition and asked consumers for their own remixes of the video.
- Find the voices of your brand’s advocates. Toyota’s social channels became the place for consumers to share positive feedback and stories about the brand without being prompted to do so. Because of this, the company started a campaign called “Autobiography” where consumers could upload stories about their vehicle, whether it was through words, photos, or videos. 13,180 stories were submitted, and the number of “likes” on Toyota’s Facebook page doubled in two months.
Watch Gardiner’s presentation: