A Social Media Experiment: TDI Club Forum

In my Social Media Marketing course I ran an impromptu social media test. It started when my car wouldn’t start on the first day of classes. The local garage quoted me $450 to $650 for an alternator. After just spending a couple hundred on the brakes I sought another solution by visiting the TDI Club Forums.

Then in class we talked about the big shift in Web 1.0 to 2.0 where people communicate directly with user generated content through social networks instead of being passive receivers of what large organizations choose to share. That’s when I thought of the experiment.

You see, veteran TDI Club member “Wingnut” from Toronto detailed, with pictures, how to replace an alternator and convinced me that I could do it too. I said that if I could successfully fix my car from a forum post, then Web 2.0 has really shifted power to the people – even a professor who spent his previous career creating ads not fixing cars.

I found a new alternator at Auto Parts Warehouse for $150 and a coupon code that saved me more money. Within days it arrived, I had it in my car in less than three hours and the car is running great! The check engine light even turned off and that has been on for years.

I am now on the Auto Parts Warehouse email list and have “Liked” their Facebook page with 34,000 other empowered car owners.

In full discloser, I did receive help from my wife’s uncle who is mechanically inclined but not an auto mechanic. He also admitted afterward that he wasn’t sure if we could do it. But we did.

So social media passed the test. Consumers are empowered and that means marketers must learn new ways to engage them. The good news is engaged consumers may be worth more money in the long run.

A new eBook by Sitecore indicates that fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium compared to average customers in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth. The problem is 87% of customers are currently disengaged. How could marketers in and around the auto industry further engage empowered consumers?

The new alternator is in the center of the picture and gives you an idea of all the other engine parts that needed to be removed to get to it.