Monica Peterson

“When things are popular, like vanilla ice cream, sometimes it’s noted as being a little boring.”

Monica Peterson, Toyota’s Director of Social Media, says that while their Camry has been the top-selling sedan in America for 13 years in a row, that popularity has given it a reputation for being a rational, boring choice. To inject some emotion back into buying the car, they created a campaign for a redesigned, bold new Camry.

“The key for us was that our campaign objective matched our social objectives,” Monica says.

Their objectives:

  1. Increase opinion and consideration of the car
  2. Increase awareness of the inside and out redesign
  3. Increase perception of the Camry’s “bold, new” image and styling

To do it, they created a four-pronged approach focused on major social channels:

  • Facebook: Use all the data they have for hyper-targeted content development
  • Twitter: Validate shoppers who are considering buying a Camry by sending them a digital “high-five”
  • YouTube: Entertain and inform younger audiences with content from big influencers
  • Instagram: Get the car out of the family driveway or grocery store parking lot and feature unexpected images of the Camry

Monica shares this portfolio outlining where they focused their budget and efforts:

Toyota case study presentation

Data-driven social ads helped them target custom content to very specific audiences.

We’re aligning our metrics to business objectives so that the people who sit in the top seats in our companies can relate.

Monica’s team overlaid three audience subcategories with three categories of their campaign tone: styling, tech, and performance. That helped them create 162 variations of an ad to deliver the message that resonated best with each audience over three months.

“It’s really important that you carve out messaging and create creative that’s going after the target you’re actually interested making an impact with.”

To attract a younger audience, Toyota partnered with YouTube influencers Rhett and Link to create a high-octane video of a Camry test-drive complete with explosions and donuts in the desert.

“The hope is that influencers will take this content and share it on their personal channels where we can reach the people they speak to that align with our Camry target.”

“Take opportunities where people are already doing something naturally and figure out a creative way to take advantage of that behavior.”

For example, Monica explains, “A lot of people like to show off when they buy new things.”

To capitalize on that, their team gave dealerships Snap21, an application that allows them to take a photo of a buyer with their new car and share it with them via email attached to a survey. About one in four buyers shared these photos on social media.

To measure what mattered, they focused on business objectives instead of the fun stuff.

“In the past we looked at a lot of things like reach and impressions and the fun type of metrics that we as social media leaders like to talk about,” Monica says.

“But more and more we’re aligning our metrics to business objectives so that the people who sit in the top seats in our companies can relate, because once they can relate and see movement in what you’re doing, you can get more money, more people, and more resources. You’ve got to put it in their terms.”

The results they came away with from social monitoring:

  • 5-times more people were calling the Camry stylish
  • 160 percent lift in favorability
  • 3.3-times more people were interacting with their paid social ads than normal

You can watch her full presentation from SocialMedia.org’s Member Meeting in San Francisco here. Monica has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2012. Follow her on Twitter.


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