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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mercedes 'Tweet Race' competition

All brands big and small are looking to utilize the power of social media and are now all clamoring to get on the networking wave to promote themselves online. That said, the latest social media PR campaign announced by Mercedes makes you wonder if some people really understand what social media is about...

I am talking about the Mercedes 'Tweet Race' competition to be launched on the Super Bowl final. The German giant will pit teams against each other as they race across the country in Mercedes cars while tweeting about Mercedes all the way along as part of the challenge. USAToday better explains it by saying the car giant will: "offer hefty prizes to consumers who best use unconventional social-media tactics to tweet and digitally tout the foreign brand before the Super Bowl".

So instead of carefully building a social media network by utilizing the Mercedes fan base, engaging with people and communicating with them on the same level for months on end, Mercedes is instead going to throw some cash at a few plucky youngsters to get people to "digitally tout" the Mercedes brand during the Super Bowl?

MySpace failed because it became a one-way communication outlet heavy on ads and light on communication - an experience we can all get by switching on the TV. This event, it seems, is a one-way street also as it is basically offering a prize to the person who can tweet a brand's message the loudest.

This, to me, is not understanding social media. Social media is a two-way experience and those brands who want to get ahead in it need to be able to give as much as they get. They need to get onto the ground floor and actually communicate, even if they don't like what they are hearing. Ultimate success will come through communicators organically pushing the brand and the message because they want to, not because they are forced or duped into it.

Mercedes has just under 25,000 followers on Facebook, a paltry sum for a world-renowned brand. I actually spent time in my youth working for a Mercedes enthusiast publication (one of three in the UK alone!) so know that there are a lot of fans out there who can be and should be communicated with at a grassroots level and who would love the spread the Mercedes word. By bribing people to tweet a message rather than cultivating it organically the car giant is merely using its marketing budget to get up onto a bandwagon.

To learn more about this Tweet Race, you are forced to 'Like' the Mercedes' Facebook page. I did so for the purposes of this blog, learned nothing and 'unliked' immediately. Unless it changes its social media tact, that's the way it is going to stay I am afraid.

Lee Jones
Follow me on Twiiter @xpsocialmedia