Audi – a pro in the digital world

As the semester is almost over and thus also my online class for which I had to write all these posts and further produce a video is ending, this will be my last blog post. Actually I am a bit sad, because I have really liked to share my weekly assignments in form of online posts. Therefore, there is a chance that I will maybe continue writing on this blog – provided that I find some other interesting things to write about.
Nevertheless, here is my topic for this week: research the strategy and online presence of your favorite brand and share your findings. Further, analyze if they are doing a successful job and give tips for improvement.

Conclusion of the six last weeks
For this assignment, I will first start with a small conclusion of what I heard, seen and read about my favorite brand Audi. To recap, I have the strong feeling that the brand is very active in communicating with its target group and fan ambassadors. They are active on all popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest ad Google+. Each online presence gives Audi the chance to provide the latest information about the company itself and its various car models. Furthermore, many interested persons and fans use these accounts to share their opinion, but also pictures and unique experiences with their friends and similar-minded folks. The huge amount and the frequency of posts as well as the mostly positive attitude conveys the feeling that Audi is one of the most popular and admired (car) brands worldwide. Therefore, I think Audi’s strategy is to provide their audience opportunities to explore and experience the brand – whether it is offline or online. And so far, I have to say that they are doing a good job.

“The next big social thing”
For the innumerable time I have visited the official (German) website of Audi once again to find out what they do in the digital world – and I was surprised once again. There are a huge amount of tools the brand provides to experience Audi. Personally, the most interesting thing was for me the “Audi social reader” followed by the “car chat”. The feature “social reader” collects recent posts on online sources and social media channels. The consumer can find everything on one spot or select the news according to a certain topic. Audi uses this to listen what the target group feels and thinks rather than just provide information – I guess, they make use of the fact that people believe peers more than corporate messages. Further, it encourages persons to share opinions and experiences in combination with publicizing the brand Audi. “Car chat” gives fan ambassador the opportunity to design customized models and talk about them with friends. The configured version can be shared and the equipment and design elements could be discussed and rated in the community. This techniques also supports the target audience in exploring the brand and voluntarily spread the word. In 2010, Audi incorporated both tools to introduce the new A1 – for the company this social media campaign was a huge success which resulted in enormous amount of visitors, fans, posted comments and pictures as well as in a great amount of pre-orders.

Audi multimedia
Additionally, Audi provides picture galleries, the video channel AudiTV, numerous Audi Apps and Audi games to promote the brand online. Furthermore, many offline events invite the consumers to explore and experience the brand. There are driving and security practices, the Audi City (you may know NikeTown) and several other Audi happenings. Besides, as the company is a worldwide sponsor of cultural and social events as well as a sponsor of sports teams around the globe, you will be exposed the brand numerous times and places.

Thumbs up for Audiimages
To conclude, Audi is really doing a great and successful job in presenting the brand online and offline. I have to confess, that I am impressed by the various features it offers to obtain information about the company itself and about its products as well as it gives interested persons opportunities to share their opinions and experiences to friends and a great Audi community. So it is no wonder at all that-like mentioned above – the brand experiences a huge amount and a huge
of frequency of posts along with a generally positive attitude. The only thing which I came across, is that the international versions of the Audi official website contain different, but more importantly less content and features than the original German one. Sometimes, it was very difficult for me to find the same information which I found on the German sites also on Audi.com (I could not find the social reader and car chat on the international site). I think, the company should be a bit more effort in facilitating the online presence of other countries with the same options available on Audi.de, due to the fact that the cars are admired also in the US and China.
I have the strong feeling that Audi is highly aware of the fact that the products offered today are very similar compared to the ones by the competitors and thus interchangeable – so what is really the difference between a Mercedes, a BMW and an Audi. The thing that really matters is the brand identity behind the products and as a consequence effective online and offline communication will make the distinction in being successful or not.

 

About my video – love at first sight

Well, one assignment of the POB online class is the production and spreading a video for social media. The following, I’d like to tell you something about the what, who, why and how of the video – from the first idea until the realized “piece of art”.

Idea and first concept within 15 minutes
When I first get the assignment of making and sharing a video, I was like OMG – but more in the negative way. The crucial question was “What will this video be about??” and for some days I had no idea. There was just no topic which inspired me and that will be interesting for my viewers. But like so often – when you are not really focusing on the assignment – an idea suddenly popped out of nowhere and within seconds I was completely convinced about it.
It was Friday evening and I was searching for some amusement on the Internet. As I had school all day, I was not able to watch one of my favorite TV shows. Fortunately, there is the opportunity to watch it online. So, I did exactly that. Of course, there are some commercials in-between the program. And even though I tend to ignore them, tada there was the answer to all my questions: an insurance company asks the viewers to participate in a contest to become a fan ambassador at the 24h-race of the Nürburgring (famous motor sport event). Hmm, interesting – so I visited the website to see what you have to do for winning that priceless prize. The contest was: posting a video or picture of yourself telling the audience and an expert jury why are you the perfect fan ambassador. First I was like “urgh, another video to do”, but then “actually, I could combine these two assignments”. And then, within ten minutes, I just wrote down a small script for the scenes of the video.

The concept
I have to confess that I am passionate about cars and motor sports. I have no idea where it comes from, but I remember playing with toy cars when I was little and watching Formula1 when I was younger. I still watch the Formula1 championship every time and some when I like to watch one live from the race track. As a consequence, I would like to express my love for motor sports in the video to convince the audience that I am a perfect fan ambassador.
From that, my idea derived of presenting a car like a love of life/love at first sight: in a first sequence I like to present a conservation between two girls in which one is so excited about the fact that she has fallen in love so that her friend has the imagination that she found the love of her life. In the second sequence it will be revealed that she is not talking about someone human, but the most amazing car ever(or in English). And she describes every characteristics which a boy might have referring to the features of the R8 – for example the headlights as beautiful eyes, the powerful engine as a pure heart and the nice sound as his voice.
[Just for the record, you can donate some money that I will be able to purchase the Audi R8. As a special incentive you have the opportunity to decide which colors the side blades will get ;) ].

The target group
I guess my video is not really interesting for a majority of the viewers. But I like to see it as my application for the contest. Therefore, I have a certain audience for the video – other car and motor sports lovers as well as a expert jury consisting of a German racing driver, the head of the organization team at the 24h-race as well as the CEO, the marketing and the event/sponsoring manager of the insurance company.

Editing for dummies
The real difficult part was producing and editing the video. Even though I exactly know what to show in my video, it took me hours to produce and edit it. Luckily, Windows Live Movie Maker is not difficult tool to work with, but I spend hours on searching for high quality pictures of the car – in the end I decided to take official photos from Audi.
I actually really struggled with the issue of presenting myself in the video. Due to the concept I had, there has to be scene with me in it telling a friend about the love of my life. I was thinking of shooting a phone call situation, so that nobody is forced to appear in the video. But still I did not really like the idea of appearing in the video myself – it would have been no problem, if the video would be only shown to the lecturer and the class; but posting it on Facebook and YouTube is another caliber.
As you can see – in the end I shot a small sequence with me “acting”. To maintain a bit of privacy, the viewer could only see me from sloping behind and you hear my voice.
The final difficulties occurred, when I cut the video with the voice over in different pieces to put them in-between the pictures.

Post-it
As I want it to be more interesting, I will post the first scene of the video and asking my friends to like and maybe share it. After a few days I will then post the second part. Therefore, I hope the first scene will act like a teaser, introducing the concept and raise the question of “Who is he?”, the second sequence will thus give the answer and reveal my passion about cars.

Winning the (digital) world with AdWords

This week’s assignment focuses on search engine marketing especially of the use of Google AdWords to create effective online advertising. Even though my experience with this technique is very limited, I tried my very best to find out which keywords could be used for my favorite brand – which is still – Audi.

How does Google AdWords work?
For everybody like me who knows the word AdWords and has some kind of ideas what it does, I will provide some information that will help to understand itself and the assignment I performed a bit better:
As we all know AdWords is a form of online marketing called keyword advertising. The ads itself can be seen on Google in front, at the right side and sometimes also at the bottom of the search results. AdWords appear when they fit content wise to the search enquiry or the related website. The advertiser makes use of certain keywords which describe the presented product or service. If someone enters this keyword or a correlated term in Google, he/she will be not only given the organic search results, but also matching AdWords ads. The advertiser himself is responsible for designing the keywords and the content. For a long-term marketing project or a short-term campaign, he/she has to indicate certain  keywords under which the self-created ads appear on Google. In comparison to the organic search results, but similar to print advertisements AdWords ads are not for free.

The best keywords to promote Audi
I performed an AdWord keyword search to find out which terms could be used by Audi to promote the brand via SEA. As Audi is a German company (and my Google settings are in German), I will chose Germany and the German language as a base for the analysis.
The search word “Audi” itself, is globally inquired 30.400.000 times each month – 5 million times in Germany in the same time frame. I think that is an enormous amount of occasions people want to get information about Audi-related content. Furthermore, Google gives situations what kind of keywords could be used according to the amount of monthly worldwide search enquiries. In my case, it suggests to incorporate names of competitor manufacturers like Ford, BMW and Mercedes, because these keywords are typed in on Google over millions of times as well. Probably, Audi could use these keywords when promoting own car models that could be compared with the ones by the competition. Moreover, it is noticeable that Audi is most often connected to certain models like Audi Q3 (450,000 monthly inquiries) or Audi A1 (368,000 inquiries). Thus, I believe it is valuable to use specific product names as keywords. Surprisingly, terms like “second-hand audi” are not that often used  – only 110.000 times each month, but still it is important by Audi to be found when a user types in “second-hand car”. Other more specific keywords like “Jahreswagen” (cars which can be bought by company employees at a discount and resold after one year), “tuning” or “convertible” are used frequently.

The (market)place to be
Another search with the keyword “car” made clear ,that next to certain brands many users look for automobile platforms to get information about cars and matching equipment. For example virtual car marketplaces, like the popular German autoscout24.de and mobile.de, are more than 5 million times typed in on Google. Therefore, I would advise Audi create advertisement with the same or similar terms to appear when users look for those sites. Furthermore, Audi could buy advertising space on the marketplace itself to make sure that potential car purchasers will think about the brand as well. Additionally, terms like “equipment”, “test”, “tuning” or “forum” are related and important keywords when searching for cars.

Audi, what else …
Additionally, Audi could use other not car related keywords to promote the brand. As the company is supporting several events like winter sport or movies, special ad campaigns could be designed which appear when users are looking for the Ski Weltcup, German Touring Car Masters or the new Iron Man movie.

Audi – A German brand goes worldwide

Stan Lee and Audi

U.S. Premiere of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 hosted by Audi

This week’s blog assignment covers the topic of monitoring brands or organization and their appearance  in the worldwide web including Twitter, news, blogs, photos and videos. As my personal champion brand happens to be Audi, because of their excellent job of modifying their identity and image, I used several monitoring tools to get an idea about where and what people are saying about Audi.
And I actually did not expect such a huge also international social and online media activity for a German brand.

-    by the way this song was stuck in my head while writing the blog     -

Brand ambassadors on Twitter
With the feature search.twitter.com I looked for tweets mentioning Audi. First of all, there is a tweet about the brand ca. every ten minutes, but at least once an hour – an incredible high reach, I would say. Furthermore, many users act like fans and ambassadors of the brand – sharing individual experiences and photos of the cars with their followers. Even though tweets marked with :( , did not present a negative opinion about the brand – no, it is more a sign desperation and longing for driving/purchasing an Audi. Of course, there is an official Twitter account of Audi and several Audi fan clubs presenting news about the company and their products.

Review from experts on blogs
I used blogsearch.google.com to get an insight what kind of blogs sharing what kind of information to the readers. It seems like also bloggers are very active in writing articles about Audi – the latest post are only two resp. four days old. I got the impression that the brand is mostly mentioned on motor sport and car related blogs  – for example driversclubgermany.com or speedweek.de. Those blog entries often cover driving reports of certain models or Audi’s future design and product concepts.

 News about the company
Another monitoring tool is google.com/alert. The most recent news which were displayed, contained information about Audi’s market performance. As the company released facts on figures on this topic on Tuesday April 30, many national and international media sources like the Washington Post or MarketWatch are posting these news online. Interestingly but not suprisingly, many sources seem to stress the downbeat results (drop in pretax profit, decline in sales), Audi itself focus more on the promising outlook to the overall 2013 results and the high level of the financial indices. Furthermore, videos about driving reviews are very popular and uploaded often.

The fourth monitoring tools I looked at, was the Dutch website socialmediacheck.nl. As my Dutch is not so good, I used the tool to get an indication where and what people mostly post about Audi. 29% of the posts are coming from Twitter accounts, while only 9% are visible on Facebook. Furthermore, especially news and pictures about the brand are shared by the users.

As a conclusion, I might say that these tools are a nice technique to see and read what (potential) customers think about the brand and assess if this is the image they want them to have. In this case Twitter is a valuable platform, because a majority of persons with an Audi preference are very active there. Consequently, less interaction by Audi is needed.
As I figures out that the persons like news and pictures about Audi products, the brand should post these kind of information on social media or other platforms.

Attention: Content may cause frustration, envy and dissatisfaction

- How social networks make us feeling bad -

Have you been on Facebook today? “Yeah, of course” – you might say. And how do you feel after visiting your FB wall – great and connected or sad and lonely??

A research performed by two German universities just found out that the usage social networks like Facebook creates many negative feelings like frustration and envy for the users – especially generated through positive posts.

“Weird” you will say now. But this just seems  odd in the first place.

The researches of the TU Darmstadt and HU Berlin asked about 600 Facebook users about their feelings while and after surfing on the social network. Altogether, one third of the study group described bad and negative feelings using FB. The most often described emotions  were envy, frustration, sadness and loneliness – especially, passive users reported this feelings.

The researchers conclude that the exposure to their friends’ post, comments and photos create those moods. This so called “class envy” emerges when users experience the positive portrayal of the life of their friends and compare it to their very own living which than appears to be less attractive. As you most often envy persons which share similar characteristics like you, FB creates a perfect platform for the social comparison.

Thus, the researches see a direct connection between the envy on FB and the overall life (dis)satisfaction of the users. To compensate those negative feelings, the users “overpresent” themselves FB and portray their life in a better light. As a consequence, class envy is feel be other users and an envy spiral establishes.

There is no way in saying that Facebook, Twitter and Co. did not make our lives a lot easier – through those platforms we have the opportunity to be connected to our friends, fellows and the rest of the world whenever and wherever we want. But didn’t we become too much dependent on it – always checking what or friends are doing and what they like and how they feeling?