Posted March 3, 2010 9:23 am by with 3 comments

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Toyota is now turning to Twitter to help stem the tide of negativity that has been heaped upon it during the “Recall Free For All” (that one’s mine). I guess someone at Toyota HQ has been studying up on this Twitter thing and decided that it was the way to go. Of course, just going headlong into a potentially hostile environment would be foolish so they have found a way to “manage” just what is being seen and heard in this attempt to make things better again with the top selling automaker in the world.

TechCrunch reports

The Japanese auto giant has launched a branded channel on TweetMeme, in partnership with Federated Media, which aggregates and organize Twitter conversations regarding Toyota.

Called Toyota Conversations the site brings together the top stories being Tweeted about Toyota, from news articles to press releases. The site also shows visitors the most popular videos and images being shared about Toyota on Twitter. And the channel includes a Featured Tweets from Toyota’s Twitter account and press room as well as AdTweets, which are Tweetmeme’s retweetable ads for Toyota.

Risky business for sure unless, of course, you can somehow “manage” just what is shown in the tweets that are part of this effort.

You may notice after taking a look at all of the top stories that are being aggregated on the site, that most of the news is positive. That doesn’t seem to match the general tone of the media writing about Toyota, which has been quick to criticize the car company for its manufacturing mistakes. If you take a look at Twitter sentiment app Tweetfeel, the sentiment of Tweets mentioning Toyota lean more negative. Tweetmeme channels can be set up to pick up only certain news sources. It looks like Toyota picked the friendlier ones.

Well, when I took a look this morning at the Toyota Conversations Tweetmeme site they may have not caught everything.

Take note of the logo used in Toyota’s tweets as well. It makes the company look like some kind of evil empire. Using black as your primary color to help people warm up to you again is not very effective but hey, what do I know?

So will this effort by Toyota help the cause? Jeremiah Owyang is quoted in the LA Times blog about this very subject as saying

“In the social sphere, it’s often best to be proactive during a crisis, to let the market know you’re listening, and centralize the discussion around your brand, giving the brand more opportunity to guide the conversation,” Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang said. “Yet don’t be fooled, on the social sphere the illusion of power is quickly dispelled, as everyone can have a say.”

Is this the right time for Toyota to do this? Wouldn’t it have been more genuine if this was underway from the very start because now it appears to be a contrived effort to stop the flow of negative press rather than a sincere attempt to “make nice” with a buying public that may not ever trust this brand like it used to.

  • Toyota has been viewed as second-to-none in terms of quality assurance systems. In fact, Operations managers benchmark their quality systems against Toyota’s. Going to Twitter indicates that Toyota is truly in a crisis mode. To regain consumer trust, Toyota must deal with the root causes of their problem. The use of Twitter only deals with the symptoms, namely, anxious customers and stakeholders.
    .-= Tim Mojonnier´s last blog ..The Fall of Brand Toyota =-.

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