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2011 Case Study: Bonfire Helps an Unlikely Industry Get Social

Company: Beaverton Auto Group

Campaign Length: Nine Months

Result: Facebook interactions increased 1,021%, Facebook fans increased 172%, and Facebook cost-per-fan decreased 38.2% (averages)

The Challenge

Beaverton Auto Group consists of three auto dealerships: Beaverton Nissan, Beaverton Hyundai, and Damerow Ford. A locally owned and operated company, Beaverton Auto Group was quick to realize and understand the dramatic shift to social media in an industry that has relied heavily on traditional mediums.

Each of the three brands at hand have experienced their own significant challenges during the recession and natural disasters in Japan, which caused difficulty in maintaining a consistent supply of inventory. Bonfire was appointed to launch the company into the social space to build brand awareness, increase web traffic, nurture their communities, and ultimately drive sales.

The Customer Experience

Auto dealerships aren’t exactly known for fantastic customer service, and many customers dread stepping onto the lot. So instead of simply telling everyone how great their customer service is, weshowed them by displaying photos of happy customers next to their brand new cars. Not only did this provide an avenue to build trust among potential customers, but it also helped us grow a relevant fan base—one filled with existing customers and not random visitors who want nothing to do with the product. The pictures quickly became a hit, with customers often asking for their pictures to be taken before the conclusion of the sale and showing gratitude in the comments.

We also provided exceptional customer service via social channels, further contributing to our highly interactive communities.


One of the most significant shifts in social media in 2011 was the expectation of the consumer to be rewarded for connecting with brands online. Knowing this was a key to success, we wanted to do something fun to reward our fan base but also add value and generate business for our client.

We achieved this in several ways throughout the campaign, the first of which was exclusive service specials for Facebook fans. To make this process ultra-convenient for the customer, we enabled them to download and print the coupons right from Facebook vs. making them click through to another site. We also ran an iPad 2 Giveaway as part of our “fan giveaway” value proposition.

Facebook Advertising

Most auto dealerships use their Facebook pages exclusively to advertise. Not our clients.

We advertise where it was meant to be—using Facebook ads. They allowed us to extend our campaign reach significantly while allocating our budget only to our target demographics. Throughout the campaign, the ads were the highest generator of new fan growth than any other medium.

The Results

A well-executed strategy, optimized tactics, and a focus on valuable content yielded phenomenal results over our nine month period from February–October 2011. In fact, Beaverton Hyundai now has more Facebook fans than any Hyundai dealership in the nation.

Beaverton Nissan

Facebook Fans: +183.2%

Facebook Interactions: +668.4%

Facebook Advertising Cost-Per-Fan: -53.7%

Beaverton Hyundai

Facebook Fans: +260.5%

Facebook Interactions: +1,480.6%

Facebook Advertising Cost-Per-Fan: -62.4%

Damerow Ford

Facebook Fans: +73.4%

Facebook Interactions: +914.8%

Facebook Advertising Cost-Per-Fan: +1.4%

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Meanwhile, nearly every business is represented on Facebook, including the automotive industry which has also parked their cars on Facebook. But once convinced, many people build loyalty with a car brand, sometimes for a lifetime. Cars are emotion and social media is also emotion-driven. Car manufacturers are only too well aware of the emotional appeal and cleverly pitch their marketing at the niche markets they know will be interested in their products. Social media offers many possibilities for interactive communications with fans, loyalists and potential customers. Cars on Facebook seem to be a perfect fit and we try to investigate this.

Cars On Facebook – The Brands In Our Comparison Group

As usual, we need to limit the amount of pages we take into a comparison. We use the number of Facebook fans to form a comparison group in this case. We know that this way of selecting the pages does not satisfy all needs, but we think it is a good starting point for a discussion.

Name Logo Fans
BMW 10,58m
Ferrari 8,88m
Mercedes-Benz 7,80m
Audi USA 5,48m
Porsche 4,31m
Ford Mustang 4,22m
Lamborghini 3,66m
MINI 3,07m
Chevy Camaro 2,93m
Jeep 2,73m

You can see a mix of big brands such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, next to dream car manufacturers such as Ferrari and Lamborghini, in addition to target group-specific popular brands such as Jeep and MINI.

Ford and Chevrolet are even represented by the, of course historically and emotionally models Camaro and Mustang.

But of course fan count is just the beginning and not the right metric to make statements about the success. For more insights we need to check the engagement of the fan base.

People Talking About Cars On Facebook

The People Talking About This – Rate displays the absolute number of people talking about this divided by the number of fans. In the following chart we chose a data range from 1/1/12 till today to create a better and more meaningful overview and exclude some kind of dilutions through special weekly campaign peaks.

Apparently Lamborghini was talking point number one for cars on Facebook for the first quarter of this year. The highest peak for the supercar manufacturer was on the 9th of February with a PTAT – Rate of 17.09%. During the year change the iconic American car, the Ford Mustang, was on everyone’s lips. Lately, it seems to be Audi USA, that fans are talking about.

In this post introduction, we wrote about the interactive communication between brands and fans, it’s now time to measure these interactions.

Interaction Rate Of The Top Car Manufacturers

The following chart shows the average number of interactions (likes, comments and shares) per own post normalized per fan for a specific time interval. Since a daily summary of the intercation rate is somewhat cluttered, we measured the rate in a monthly interval since the beginning of the year 2012. But for the daily time interval, we can at least constitute the highest interaction – rate peak for Audi USA on the 30th of June. So, in order to protect your eyes, here is the monthly evaluation:

Not surprising, we can see in this chart similar results as in the PTAT-Rate chart before. Lamborghini, Ford Mustang and Audi USA are again on the podium. So these three brands have a relative high amount of active fans, one of the most important factors for effective Facebook marketing.

But what type of content is catching the fans interest?

The Interaction Rate By Post Type

Cars on Facebook – an image driven business. Like already mentioned, photos and videos are attracting the most likes, shares and comments. Once again Lamborghini plays the dream car card and leads in case of most photo interactions. Ford Mustang beats Mercedes-Benz for video content. A rarity is certainly the music content of Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari.

Naturally you need to check the interaction rate by post type chart in connection with the post type distribution of the car brands on Facebook.

Post Type Distribution Of The Car Brands

In this chart you can clearly see the content type preferences of the brands. While photos are the leading source for Audi USA – Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have the highest amount of video content, Ferrari prefers the posting of links and Chevy Camaro likes to use status updates to talk with the fans.

Please note: You can click on every chart and then hover over the data to check any of the numbers.

Facebook Key Metrics For The Automotive Industry

Now to the hard facts for cars on Facebook – the key metrics from 1/1/2012 up to today:

In this table you can easily see the leader in every relevant Facebook metric. Therefore BMW gains the largest fan growth and also the highest number of absolute people talking about since the beginning of this year. Ferrari published so far 594 own posts, a really impressive number and therefore got the most likes and comments. But the most shares were grabbed by Mercedes-Benz. The maximum number of user posts was generated on the Facebook page of Jeep. At least, the highest average interaction rate was created by Lamborghini. And this brand with the famous raging bull logo, which belongs to Audi since 1998, also seems to pull the the emotions of the most Facebook users.

Hopefully, our analysis gave you a deeper look into the world of cars on Facebook and what marketing strategies the automotive industry uses to attract the attention of potential customers.

Are you missing a relevant metric or do you have a question? Just drop us a line in the comments.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jul 23, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- has officially surpassed 100,000 Facebook likes, and is now the most popular automotive information website on both Facebook and Twitter. As of this morning,'s 101,700 Facebook likes and 34,400 Twitter followers topped all other independent automotive shopping or research sites.

"Consumer engagement is a top priority for and sites like Facebook and Twitter have been our front lines to interact with online car shoppers," says Michelle Denogean, Vice President of Marketing at "Our social media team has worked tirelessly to create fun and memorable experiences that resonate with everyone from first-time car buyers to seasoned auto enthusiasts." crossed the Facebook milestone just days after launching its first ever cross-platform ad campaign. The debut TV ad "Ask the Car People" premiered July 9th on airwaves in four local markets, and has been featured on each of's social media channels. Online users can watch the ad any time at .

To celebrate its 100,000 likes, has posted a gallery of $100,000+ dream cars selected by members of's editorial staff. Fans are invited to share their opinions on these fantasy cars on's $100K+ Cars for 100K+ Likes post on Facebook.'s social media presence extends well beyond Twitter and Facebook. on YouTube offers reviews and instructional videos, while Edmunds' on YouTube showcases video of some of the rarest, fastest and most expensive cars in the world. Pinterest users can pin at and Google+ users can track content at .

About, Inc., the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its acclaimed mobile site, Android App and five-star Edmunds iPhone and iPad apps make car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and on the go. Its automotive enthusiast web site,, is the most-read car publication of its kind. Its highly regarded mobile site and iPhone app features the wireless Web's most comprehensive gallery of automotive photos and videos. Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow on Twitter@edmunds and like on Facebook.


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Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dealership comes up with a VERY CREATIVE Social Media Strategy for their FaceBook using "call of Duty, Black Ops" as a Promo for "Likes"... Basically, all a person has to do is "LIKE" Locklear's FaceBook Fan Page and they will be entered into a FREE drawing / Contest for a FREE Call of Duty, Black Ops game-
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** If you "LIKE" their dealership on FaceBook, prospects are automatically entered to win a FREE "Call of Duty, Black Ops" game!

(Let me know what you think about this type of campaign... or if you have a unique social media campaign you would like to share with the community).

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***Re-Published from Site

How to use Facebook to promote your blog & engage your customers - Syndicate your blog through Facebook to gain readership - Pete Jewett, SEO Analyst

You don’t have to be a social media expert to know that posting fresh relevant content on your Facebook Page is a must if you want to keep your customers engaged. One way to consistently post content and engage with your consumer is by syndicating your blog to automatically feed into your Facebook page every time you publish a post. Whenever a post is added to your blog, it will automatically display on your Facebook page's news feed for all your fans to view.

Whether you subscribe to’s blog platform or not, if you have a blog you should be syndicating it to gain readership and offer your customers fresh content on a regular basis.

It is easy to link your blog and Facebook fan page for automatic syndication! It takes less than 5 minutes to configure... here's how you can set it up:

1.Find your RSS feed URL - Visit your blog's home page and click on the orange button labeled "RSS 2.0", click it and copy your RSS feed's URL in the address bar.
2.Edit Your Facebook Page -Go to your Facebook Fan Page and click "Edit Page" beneath the Page profile picture.
3.Find Notes - Find Notes among the list of applications and select "Edit." Click "Edit Import Settings" under the Subscribe Section
4.Paste the URL - Paste your blog feed URL in the Web URL box and start importing.
Be aware that once you set up your blog to be imported into Notes, Facebook will pull previous posts into your feed. Once set up, it will scrape your site daily for new posts.

Now that you have your blog set up to post to Facebook, start writing!

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Follow Up with your prospects & customers using SOCIAL MEDIA & Internet resources like: Face Book, Twitter, MySpace, Google & AOL Instant Messenger - Sean V. Bradley I have been thinking about an article / Video post that I can do that is of value and a little bit different than what you see everywhere else... and here is what I have come up with: In my travels ALL OVER THE COUNTRY with dealerships, I hear a lot that it is hard to get an Internet prospect on the phone... YES it is!!! LOL!! *** Seriously, that is the HARDEST part of Automotive Internet Sales... getting the prospect on the phone. As a matter of fact statistically, you are going to reach about 12- 15% of your attempts or phone calls... So, lets break out the calculator and be crystal clear here. If you attempt to call 120 people per day (what we suggest), at a 12% connection ratio... you will connect with about 14.4 people.... at a 15% connection ratio you will connect with 18 people. Lets do the math in the other direction... if you ONLY are calling 30 people in a day... you are ONLY going to connect with about 3-5 people a day... So, first TIP is to attempt to contact people MORE... Why...? Well, more attempts = more connection...more connections = MORE appointments!!! & More appointments = MORE Shows and MORE SALES!!!! However, it is HARD to connect with people... I get it. BUT, are you going to just sit around and "WOE is Me"? or are you going to be proactive and try to do something about it? Sales is SIMPLE... you get what you put into it. You put no effort, and you will be BROKE... you put effort in and you can make $$$$$$$$. Here are some quick things you can do if you CAN NOT reach a prospect by the phone or you have a bad phone number or NO phone #... * First, you can try doing a "Reverse" look up with the operator... and try to get a different # * You can drop your prospect’s name into Google and you might find out some details, a Social Networking site etc... * you can go to Face Book or Twitter directly and drop their name or name and other deails (if you have) and try to find their profile and or page... ** If you find them on their Social Media... you can contact them directly through their Social Media. What is GREAT about this is that MOST Social Media is directed to people's cell phones :) And more than 1/3 of the population access Social Media via their mobile devices... *** Another opportunity is through Instant Messaging tools like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). If you get an email from a prospect that is like: - / / the PREFIX (The words BEFORE the @ symbol is USUALLY their INSTANT MESSENGER Address!!! That means that you can try to Instant Messenge hard to reach prospects... There are a LOT more cool things you can do to try to engage your prospects... This was just a quick article to assist you all. I hope you see value in it and I trust it will help you IF YOU TRY IT-
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