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Sure America might be known for making the automobile an everyday part of our modern life, but that hasn’t kept other countries from adding their own personal spin on our beloved horseless carriages. Guided by the Japanese principle of Kaizen (essentially making continual small improvements to business processes), renowned Japanese automobile maker Toyota has become a true global auto powerhouse. Founded in 1937, Toyota originally sold vehicles under the founder’s name, “Toyoda,” which literally translates into “fertile rice paddies.” The company name was later changed to Toyota, due to the fact that Toyota took a lucky number of 8 brush strokes to write, as opposed to the 10 brush strokes needed for “Toyoda.”
Using Social media platforms, Toyota USA’s Facebook page is chock-full of Toyota goodness. Sharing images and videos help Toyota get their fans to empathize and connect with aspects of the brand as a whole, rather than just pimping out its cars. Open-ended questions are regularly asked, many accompanied by nostalgic photos asking fans to reminisce about their Toyota memories. Toyota’s Twitter account is very image heavy as well, with daily posts promoting its cars and retweets from its various partners.
Toyota’s social media network Pinterest’s account has a real feel good vibe.
One of the most followed boards is the Dream Car Art contest. This board features fantastical vehicles designed by Toyota’s youngest fans. On YouTube, Toyota does smashingly well in terms of having great content. The YouTube account is neatly divided into sections by various car models, commercials, how-to’s and community stories.
When not promoting its line of cars and trucks, Toyota regularly asks its legions of fans to help them fulfill its charitable initiatives. Toyota recently launched a social charitable initiative named, “100 Cars for Good.” Through this initiative, Toyota gave away 100 cars over a period of 100 days to 100 nonprofit organizations. In support of this initiative, Toyota created a custom Facebook page as a part of their social media strategy that allowed its Facebook fans to vote on which charities and organizations they felt deserved the cars.
Ranking: 4 Toasts
Toyota follows the social media trends in many ways. Toyota’s official Facebook page has over 1.5 million likes (as of the week of 6/17/13) and over 129 thousand people talking about it. The most engaging piece of content is a link advertising the new RAV4 Genie commercial (featuring a talking baby). It has been liked over seven thousand times, shared more than 250 times and commented on by over two hundred individuals. Another one ofToyota’s social media networks is their official Twitter account which has published over 4.8 thousand Tweets and has garnered over 145 thousand followers.
Toyota USA’s YouTube channel has over 32 thousand subscribers. Its plethora of videos has earned Toyota more than 49 million views. The video with the most views is the RAV4 Super Bowl commercial “Wish Granted.” It has been watched over 16 million times since being published. Toyota’s Pinterest account features 11 boards, 199 pins and 1,570 followers. The board with the most followers is “Toyota Infographics.” The board features 22 pins of pure, uncut infographic amazement.
Ranking: 5 Toasts
Not all automobile innovation comes via new makes and enhanced features.
Toyota has recently shown some social innovations in the form of some pretty spectacular charitable initiatives as a part of their social media marketing strategy. After the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Toyota and the Food Bank for New York City partnered to create Meals Per Hour, a charitable effort to support mobile food units and soup kitchens in communities devastated by the storm. Over an eight-week period Toyota applied its Kaizen philosophy to help increase the effectiveness of systems created to support victims of the hurricanes wraith.
Case in point, the waiting line at the Community Kitchen & Food Pantry in West Harlem diminished from 1.5 hours to 18 minutes after Toyota began implementing some of its Kaizen magic. A sharable, 5-minute film was produced for the program by Supermarche, the production company that created Catfish and Paranormal Activity. Also, four social media thought leaders, each involved in a distinct lifestyle section served as project ambassadors, documenting the project via their blogs and Twitter. Those wishing to join the efforts can donate through the Meals Per Hour website.
Giving back to our hardest-hit communities isn’t the only way Toyota looks to enhance its customer’s standard of living. Toyota has partnered with the National Audubon Society in an effort to encourage drivers to get off the highway and spend more time in nature. Through Exit the Highway Toyota fans can take the pledge to take the scenic route to be entered to win a 2013 Toyota Prius v. Fans can earn additional entries by sharing destinations, stories, and photos through their social media platforms. Every week a user submitted photo is chosen and showcased on both the program’s website and Toyota USA’s Twitter account. This creates an unobtrusive way to advertise the Prius v, while still promoting the car’s (and Toyota’s) green values.
Ranking: 5 Toasts
Since 1983, Toyota has been putting a trans-pacific spin on a classic American sport. Toyota has become an integral part of the racing world, winning numerous title and races across everything from NASCAR to NHRA. A unique facet of Toyota Racing is the Toyota Pro/Celebrity series. Here celebrities like Wanda Sykes and Jeremy Sisto are trained to race against each other, raising money in support of the charity, “Racing for Kids.” Pictures, videos, stats and finishings from all of Toyota Racing’s focuses are then pushed through Toyota’s social media outlets, providing fans with exciting and thrilling content no matter what circuit gets their engines running.
When they aren’t curating amazing social content through its racing teams, Toyota can be found building celebrity buzz through its truly lavish launch parties. Recently the 2014 Corolla entered the market with a bang on the night of June 7, 2013 in Santa Monica, CA. Over 750 guests and press members attended the event at the artsy Baker Hangar. Esteemed guests and performers included celebrity chef, Richard Blais, theatrical group Fuerza Bruta and comedian Adam Carolla. Toyota teased the event and shot out regular updates and pictures from the event through its social media platforms all night long.
Ranking: 4.5 Toasts
With expectations mounting to repeat last year’s stellar sales performance, Toyota has a lot to prove if it wants to stay crowned as king in the land of cars. Luckily, Toyota has an army of fans it can call on to support the brand’s quest to remain on top. By continuing to create spectacular content, encouraging fans to spread its messages and working to launch more social and charitable initiatives as a part of their social media marketing strategy, Toyota can continue to count on its fans love and brand loyalty.
Ranking: 4.5 Toasts
wow, nice, that is so interesting)