Social Media Influence Marketing : When the User Becomes the Ambassador

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«Cadillac ATS vs. The World» : A Web-TV series and multi-plateforms campaign

Through the Cadillac brand, General Motors has been able to build a name for itself based on unwavering leadership and authority. For over a century, Cadillac has been listed as one of the leading brand manufacturers. For consumers, it’s the symbol of quality. “We don’t just make luxury cars. We make Cadillacs.”

Winner of the prestigious, annual “Best Road Vehicle in North America” award from the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January, the new Cadillac ATS continues to accumulate awards and rewards.

In July 2012, General Motors decided to innovate and think outside the marketing box and turned toward social media. To launch its new luxury sedan, the new Cadillac ATS 2013, GM directly addressed the European market — Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — in an effort to demonstrate the reliability of their vehicle under any conditions as well as highlight what a pleasure it is to drive.

To produce the Web-TV campaign, “Cadillac ATS vs. the World,” General Motors asked commentator Ross Thomas and professional driver Derek Hill to test the vehicle on the most difficult roads in the world. With an entire film crew, they travelled to Patagonia, to the heart of Argentina, to Morocco’s barren desert, to the rocky terrain of China’s mountains and to the streets of Monaco to shoot thrilling video footage.

The four-part series’ trailer, produced by filmmaker Joe Berlinger and Jeff Zwart – a specialist in automotive video – was first presented on Cadillac’s official website a few days before the start of the London Olympic Games, before being released with great fanfare on the company’s YouTube channel and on the major television networks during the opening ceremony.

From the onset of the campaign, the company has adopted a multi-platform strategy to promote the new Cadillac ATS in the media and on the web. After being deployed on the main social networks, (Facebook, Google+ and Twitter), and some photo file sharing sites (Pinterest and Instagram), GM has continued to regularly feed the four episode Web-TV series on their YouTube channel which has already over 63,000 subscribers and nearly 12 million views.

Target users and use influence marketing to amplify the message

Alongside their Web-TV campaign, General Motors has also sought to bring the “social” experience to another level by bringing in new users. By partnering with Klout to identify social media influencers (possessing social scores of more than 60), and by offering them 3-day road tests with the Cadillac ATS, GM has focused on influence marketing and campaign ambassadors to extend the broadcast message.

Convinced of the optimal quality of its new luxury sports sedan, General Motors didn’t hesitate to play on the “extreme experience” by offering also participants the opportunity to sign up to the Cadillac V-Series Academy at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch. You can be sure that “academics’” learning experiences and test drives will be the subject of future Web-TV series.

I didn’t dare enroll in these courses myself, but I couldn’t however resist the temptation to participate in the special “Klout Perks” promotion when it was offered to me. With no designs on becoming an automotive columnist, and not being much of a “car guy”, I nevertheless jumped at the chance to experience a top-notch driving experience and test the “social” value of these influence marketing campaigns.

My own «social» experience with the 2013 Cadillac ATS

My “social” experience test driving the new 2013 Cadillac ATS allowed me see that the brand’s reputation is not overrated. The quality of service is top notch and the campaign managers of “Cadillac ATS vs. The World” seem to have understood the notion of ambassadors vs. influencers and what motivates users to become ambassadors cannot be bought or sponsored. And, that the true value of their commitment is based precisely on their independence and authenticity. (See also: Social Media Influencers vs. Social Media Ambassadors – What is Their True Value?)

After explaining the car’s main features, the representative just gave me the keys and simply told me to enjoy the experience. No other commitment from me: just enjoy and share the experience if you like it, or not.

And even though I’m not much of a “car guy”, I took full advantage of the experience and most importantly, shared it with those around me. But, as stated above, I’ve never pretended of becoming a car columnist, and my knowledge of mechanics is limited to detecting noises under the hood or recognizing the warning lights on the dashboard. My brother-in-law was my real test pilot. And, during the test drive, he was my own influencer.

CUE Infotainment System : A New «Cadillac User Experience» to Develop

For my part, I had fun discovering some of the various CUE (Cadillac User Experience) infotainment system features. It allows you to synchronize your iPhone in order to receive and make hands-free calls directly from your contact list. You can also consult a road map that’s activated by an efficient GPS, and you can magnify and shrink the view with the touch screen.

From the screen, you can select all the different HD Sirius radio channels,  and distribute sound through the speakers at all four corners of the vehicle’s interior, activate the integrated CD player, and operate all the various features of the air conditioning control pannel. You can also select the voice command option and when backing up, the rear facing camera’s image automatically takes over the screen. The panel is also equipped with USB inputs that allows you to connect other devices.

As many car critics have noted, the CUE system shows lot of interesting features, but it is not yet fully developed. The touch screen isn’t very responsive. And, most important, it includes so many features and gadgets that it would take hours to simply go through the manual.

The «Social» Experience of my Cadillac ATS Test Drive

But, the most interesting part of my Cadillac ATS «social» experience started with my father-in-law who suffers from Alzheimer’s – he started to come alive when I offered him a ride. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen his eyes shine so brightly. Just for that precious moment, the experience worth it.

And then it was my brother-in-law’s turn, and as professional mechanic, he lived an experience he’d dreamed of his whole life.  The next day, he had dinner with one of his best old friend who’s thinking of changing cars.

Guess what they talked about? And, who was finally the real ambassador, do you think ?

Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin contributes a monthly column on Social Media Influence. Raymond is a francophone author and speaker who has 20 years experience acting as a senior strategic consultant and coach for organizations, SMBs and independent professionals. Author of the books «Culture Web à la portée des PME» (2001) and «Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0» (2010), he has also contributed to several magazines and bloggers platforms over the years. His upcoming new book in French, entitled «Generation C et l’influence des consommateurs branchés», is prefaced by Neal Schaffer, and will be also published in English and Spanish during the next year. +Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin


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  1. says

    Interesting, it is clear that the bigger corporations are beginning to take social media more seriously. With everyone always connected, and the fact that everyone does not get their media from solely the television, social media will continue to grow.

  2. kamalito says

    Thanks for sharing your experience through a great article Raymond. Brand ambassadors are definitely a key component of any serious and long term social media campaign.

  3. says

    Two years ago my husband and I helped as hosts at a national meet in our hometown. One 1940 Cadillac had a mechanical problem. My husband called the local dealer and they said – have the owner bring it in first thing in the morning. What other manufacturer can say they can service one of their own cars that old? Hopefully this little story supports this statement, “We don’t just make luxury cars. We make Cadillacs.”

  4. says

    That representative placed the ball in your court with confidence that you would have a positive experience to share with others. When you have a great product letting people form their own opinion of it works just fine. Word of mouth marketing is probably still one of the best forms of advertising in existence. Great post!

  5. says

    I would LOVE to be a Cadillac ambassador! I’m sure owning a Cadillac is the ultimate consumer experience. Joking aside, Cadillac seems to bring more than its product to the table. Both you and others who have commented here, have personal stories relating to the brand that actually spoke volumes to me.

  6. Joan-FindingLeads4U says

    Pride in a product, backup, support, and continued moving with the times, business savvy leaders will be ten steps ahead.

  7. says

    Cadillac certainly has learned how to connect to today’s consumer. I would love to have participated in the Cadillac V-Series sounds so much fun. When you give the public that kind of exciting experience, they will talk about it and refer their friends to it.

  8. says

    What a great testimonial to the benefits of social media. Cadillac was an esteemed brand that stuck with out-moded styling and lost their market share as a result. When you lose market share like that it is hard to gain it back. Social media is a great low risk way to get people to try a revamped product.

  9. ransae says

    Thanks for the article, it is a great article written by great Brand Ambassador, Raymond, and that plays a key role for the development of any business, or company. Thanks

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