Authenticity for Car Dealers: Engaging Generation C

In response to Jordan Hyatt’s Presentation at Digital Summit at Mountain View

YouTube Generation C

At the Digital Summit at Mountain View, Jordan Hyatt, Google’s Senior Product and Solutions Specialist of Automotive, gave a presentation called “The Power of YouTube: Video for Dealers,” in which he discussed the concerns of Generation C: the YouTube Generation.

Mr. Hyatt called attention to the fact that our living rooms are fragmenting. A family’s main TV might still be on in the evening, while everyone seated before it divides their attention between it and their own personal devices. This example sums up the crossroads our society finds itself at, with the flagging consumption of passive media and the rising consumption of user-generated active media all mixed up into one flashy mess of distraction.

For business-generated content, this democratization of reach potential creates new opportunities as well as a different set of obstacles to audience acceptance. Four key ideas, Mr. Hyatt went on, should be kept in mind when creating content for Generation C:

  1. Authenticity is everything.
  2. Sharing is the social currency.
  3. People want to watch moments that matter.
  4. Talent is valued over fame.

Arguably, the last three items on the list could be rolled up into the first — Authenticity. People won’t share your content unless it’s real. Moments don’t matter unless they’re real. Celebrity can be artificially manufactured, but talent cannot. Google, through its tireless commitment to improving user experience, has authenticity to spare, but how can a dealership go about developing authenticity through their internet video content?

Instructional videos are an obvious choice. If the information presented is correct, complete, and useful, the motive behind the presentation is irrelevant. Information stands on its own merit. But what else? I’ll share an example…

On August 3rd, we helped sponsor the Youthville Chalk Art Festival, which supports children in foster care across our state. In addition to our financial commitment, I saw an opportunity to help promote the event with a YouTube video. They were happy to participate, and loved the result:

Notice we didn’t slap our logos all over this video. I didn’t coach anyone on what I wanted them to say. In keeping with the spirit of the event, I wanted this to come from a place of generosity, and the video (which took about four hours to make, all in all) reflects that. I asked one of my best friends if I could use some of his music for the soundtrack of the video, and he was more than happy to say yes.

Once I sent the link over to our contacts at Youthville, they started lighting Facebook up with the holy grail of social engagement — the share button. Among the notable posts, F5 Newspaper, an arts, music and culture weekly, posted the video on their Facebook wall:

 F5 Shares Video

Bluebird Arthouse, a local art supply store, where several of the Chalk Art Festival’s featured artists work, also shared the video to their 2300+ fans:

Bluebird Shares Video

And so forth. I only regret I didn’t think of this idea sooner.

The event itself was a huge success. Around three thousand people attended the event, and we showcased a new Outback and talked with many chalk dust-covered festival goers.

Unintimidated by the dozens of photographers and film crews at the event, I took as much video as I could, realizing that the most important aspect of the recap video would be turnaround time. I finished the video the following Monday, and the festival organizers were happy to share again. Notice the video thumbnail — that’s my wife Reby drawing the Subaru logo in chalk.

Takeaway? Before providing usable content, we were just one of many sponsors on a list. By going the extra mile, we distinguished ourselves through the power of generosity. Also, speed matters. The stream stops for no one, and the recap video got a boost from catching everyone in the afterglow of a wonderful time.

I’m not suggesting that it would make sense to take this exact approach with every vehicle brand. Subaru of America’s marketing messages have reached out extensively to outdoorsy, creative types with families, and this event fit perfectly within that.

We talk a lot about the paths to conversion that take place online, ignoring completely the path between the digital realm and real life. With as dazzling as online marketing is now, it’s important to remember that no matter what, consumers will adapt. What’s cutting edge today will be SOP tomorrow, and filtered out as noise the day after that.

The path toward conversion is more impactful when digital and real life experiences are combined. Maybe the missing piece of your social media strategy, then, is not another online “assist,” but one that takes place in person. I’m done choking down infographics with “best practice” recommendations from national megabrands. Social media communities are not interchangeable–what works for Walmart, for instance, has nothing to do with what will work for us.

There are no rules. Get creative with your approach to content creation, and you just might be amazed with the results.

Like Kevin, I would like to extend my warmest thanks to everyone who made Digital Summit at Mountain View 2013 happen. It was a wonderful conference, and I had a great time meeting so many DealerRefreshers in the flesh!

Kershner, Jessica, and Me

Also, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be a breakout speaker at this year’s Driving Sales Executive Summit, where I’ll be discussing more techniques and past examples of bridging the gap between online and real life through social media on behalf of the dealership:

Aaron Wirtz at DSES

About the Author

Aaron Wirtz

Aaron Wirtz is the Media & Marketing Manager for Subaru of Wichita (formerly Suzuki of Wichita) and Super Car Guys, where his innovative social media strategies have cultivated an active community both locally and nationwide. As a result of his explosive success as the television and radio personality for the Super Car Guys brand, he now offers his spokesperson services and integrated marketing solutions to other dealers through

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