Last month Lexus won an AdWeek Media Plan of the Year award for its use of social media around the RC performance coupe. The automaker diverged from competitors' common launch practice of CEO-on-stage-at-a-car-show doing a brief reveal of next year's anticipated model, instead inviting the public to vote on modifications to its coupe on Facebook Live.
Viewers both submitted and voted on ideas to build the car in in real time with a host providing periodic updates, and cutaways to interviews with the customizing teams with gleaming Lexuses in the background. The strategy delivered a 10,000 percent increase in Facebook engagement that day, according to Lexus' advertising firm Team One.
The plan itself might have taken significant resources, but the principles behind it are free. Team One's Meredith Gruen offered up six tenets of the social media action plan she applies to clients like Lexus when launching a new product.
1. The content has to be relevant
Whatever you put on any social media, it has to relate to your product and to your customers' interests.
2. Reward fans
Use social media to garner new clientele, but don't forget those who have been with you since the beginning, or who are generally passionate about your sector. The Facebook Live build was an extended interaction for automotive enthusiasts, the kind of customer that thinks about exactly how to customize a dream car. The uptick in social media conversation on all platforms did trickle out to the general public--another plus of strong social media response--but this was for the core of car nuts.
3. Amplify your activations
When you're launching something new, don't just think of what to do with social media. Use a combination of organic increases in sharing, earned media partnerships, and if appropriate (or possible for your budget), paid placements.
4. Test and learn beforehand
Before the Facebook Live 10-hour build was conceived, the company experimented with crowdsourced design, minus the live element, for unveiling at a 2014 auto show. If you can't get into a splashy industry event, it's okay. Founders can still do quick and easy tests. Initiate conversations related to your idea on all platforms, and see what travels, both in terms of topic and content.
5. Use technology in your favor
Yes, there is always some new feature on this platform or that, and it seems like a lot to keep up, but you can ride the wake of aggressive product launches if you're smart about watching social media platforms and what they're prioritizing in their own marketing plans.
When Lexus planned its 10-hour Facebook Live session for last March, Live was a new feature, so a preview of Lexus' upcoming build was heavily rotated in the feed by Facebook, which was promoting its own product, a product that was an integral part of Lexus' strategy.
6. Make sure you keep your brand in mind
Think in terms of your brand outside of social media strategy. Build something that interests people. This is probably the largest monetary investment. "You don't have to pay to be a business on [a social media] platform," Gruen said. "You do have to invest so that you have a brand that people are interested in. You do have to invest in your community, listen to them, reward them for their engagement."