A photo of the forthcoming Buick Regal was recently posted on the Buick Facebook fan page, sparking auto blogs like Jalopnik to take notice and post about the new model. While the photo itself may be exciting to those that have been waiting for a glimpse at the Regal, it’s also an interesting look at how Facebook is influencing news in the automotive world.
Leaked photos of pre-production cars and spy photos of concept vehicles on the road have always been a part of the auto industry, but this is one of the first times where we’ve seen a social network being used as the primary outlet. That’s not to say that the auto industry isn’t delving in to Facebook and other networks; there are a number of campaigns running through Facebook right now that indicate car manufacturers are taking the power of social networking seriously in their bid to connect with potential buyers.
Some of the more engaging campaigns have come from Toyota and Ford. Toyota’s Random Acts of Prius is a smart application that speaks to the lifestyles of Prius owners and Facebook users by promoting simple ways to make the world a better place everyday. Ford took a more marketing-oriented approach with its new Fusion 41 initiative, which gives current 2010 Fusion owners the chance to chronicle their adventures tackling a series of challenges presented by Ford. The campaign is aimed at getting real people to report on the attributes of the car through various social networking outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
As car companies seek to regain profitability, Facebook can prove to be a powerful method of engaging car shoppers. It seems that brands are doing their best to remain in the conversations and news feeds of their followers and fans, but the leaking of the Regal photo may be a shift towards also using Facebook as an outlet for spreading the type on information and marketing material that has traditionally been reserved for auto magazines, shows and press events.