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I compared the work of Honda and Toyota as they used social media to launch their most popular models in 2012 - the Honda Civic and the Toyota Camry. Both companies have had challenges in recent years, and 2012 is an important year for both models.
In comparing the two I used data from Social EQ, a model developed by my company, APCO Worldwide. Social EQ's model uses opinion research to help determine what "Social Informants" - that's the name we give to those uber-users of social media who influence the online discussions the rest of us have all the time - consider to be an effective social media presence for a company or organization. Since the Social EQ team already reviewed the 40 "Most Admired" companies as rated by Fortune Magazine, we already had a good snapshot of Honda and Toyota.
Both companies basically got middling reviews when compared to the other most admired companies. They both have decent, easy-to-find online content, but Social Informants want more direct access to the people who work there when they have questions or feedback. I notice that both companies are trying to do just that, but in different ways. Honda is trying to strengthen its reputation with its customers by starting a grassroots-y YouTube-driven original music video contest. Toyota is rolling out the model - quite literally - via webcast and trying more direct outreach to leading voices in different online communities, like my good pal Tim Hurst at Earth & Industry.
The Social Informants initially gave Honda a slight edge over Toyota when the Social EQ team did their research, but I have to say I like what Toyota did with the Camry a bit more than what Honda did. Honda was creative and fun, but Toyota was more direct and did a good job identifying online community leaders. Bottom line I think both companies deserve credit for trying new things but I think Toyota closed their social media gap with Honda a bit here.