Toyota: Tweeters, not Twits

Anyone living in the US, who has not been living in a deprivation chamber for the past few weeks, is likely aware that Toyota has had its problems the past few weeks. Toyota, a company known for fanatical customers, and ultra reliable automobiles has had to deal with issues related to several models that still seem not to be completely resolved. And this following on the heels of the floor mat debacle…. 

Looks nice sitting in your driveway...

So how does a modern day company defend their actions and reputation against an unrelenting news media, the US Congress, and late night talk show hosts? Toyota apparently thinks the answer is Twitter. 

Well, I certainly give them points for trying. 

Use of the venue, in conjunction with TweetMeme has social media apostles all over the world drooling with joy. I’m not so sure. First off on TweetMeme. Toyota is tracking comments related to Toyota on Twitter: Good! It has also been alleged (TechCrunch and others) that Toyota has sanitized the postings and/or is only tuning into the more favorable comments: Bad! This is not the time to place your head in the sand and tune out the negative. 

My second concern with this media is that Twitter, until you have a tremendous following, can only be largely reactive. You just can’t tweet to people who don’t follow you, and Toyota only has 17,753 followers as of this writing. Not nearly enough to launch a retaliatory response to overwhelming negativity. 

In fairness, Toyota also has a Facebook page, with 80,000 plus fans (I wonder if this has grown recently) where they post videos (from their YouTube page) about Toyota safety issues, and link to their recall site (Toyota Recall ), and provide a toll free number. They have posts from fans, that are both positive and negative on the FB site, but don’t host a discussion page. 

The time has come for Toyota to wade into these waters and weigh in a little more prominently.

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5 Responses to “Toyota: Tweeters, not Twits”

  1. Laura Phillips Garner Says:

    I think the Twitter and Facebook pages are just one more way Toyota is trying to reach out to the public as it faces this justified firestorm on its reputation. I’ve seen plenty of mea culpa television commercials lately, but none that would make me want to trade in my good ‘ol Chevy Malibu!

  2. John Ferraro Says:

    I see your point that Toyota is not wading in but only putting their toes into the proverbial waters by initiating interactions on Twitter and Facebook. As you said, they deserve “points” for this… but who is keeping score and what is the score?

    You imply that they should do more, but can you suggest what that “doing more” could and should be?

    A congressman in the senate hearings last week suggested to Mr. Toyoda that the car in one particularly questionable accident be procured by Toyota, and literally torn apart to find the problem. This seemed to be a much more direct and perhaps less costly approach than mounting a muti-million dollar public relations campaign. That could be a start along the road to “doing more”.

  3. mtietbohl Says:

    Hi Laura and John,

    You both make good points! I agree that Toyota is not really doing all that they could to solve this problem and rehabilitate their brand image.
    They certainly have some serious issues with their cars right now, issues that they have apparently known about for awhile.

    When I indicated that Toyota deserved points for what they were trying to do, I was attempting to be somewhat ironic. My whole point with Twitter was that this media is NOT the right platform for what they are trying to accomplish, and that they are doing a less than exemplary job on their FB page and on their own site. They need to be listening and fixing, and I’m afraid they are not doing enough of either. Instead, they seem intent on trying to control the flow of information, which is beond the capability of even a company of their size.

    Great comments, keep ’em coming.

    Regards, Mark

  4. Sandee Faso Says:

    Wow, a real web entrepreneurship tailors website ! They find you the best coders at best prices, all based on trust rank mobile programming, web development, desktop application programming

  5. cjd000 Says:

    Twitter is so huge right now! I can’t get over it. The power of this little tool is tremendous. But, I think it works better with certain brands. I believe more of the younger crowd is on Twitter. My parents are not on Twitter. None of my close friend’s parents are on Twitter. Toyota is an important brand to many individuals of all ages, and I think they should have looked towards a better media outlet than Twitter. I used to own a Toyota, and if the brand used Twitter and Facebook to get the word out, my father would have had a hard time understanding because he is on neither one of these social networking media sites.

    -Cat

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