GM Turns to Social Media to Help Launch 2011 Buick Regal

General Motors Company is turning to online, social media to help launch the 2011 Buick Regal sedan.

Last year, Ford Motor Company began a social media campaign to build awareness about its redesigned Fiesta small car. By all accounts, the campaign was an overwhelming success – actually exceeding Ford’s own expectations.

GM says it will launch a new site, called “Buick’s Moment of Truth”, that will include user-generated reviews and videos and the automaker has said that it will post all submissions – even the unflattering ones. Visitors to GM’s new site will be able to leave comments about the reviews and videos.

The campaign is part of GM’s effort to rebrand itself and rebuild trust following last year’s government-backed bankruptcy and reorganization. The fact that the automaker is willing to post negative reviews and comments on its site shows that it is serious about rebuilding its credibility and reconnecting with its customers.

Buick-GMC U.S. marketing chief John Schwegman said consumers who participated in a test of the Regal marketing plan responded positively to the idea of unfiltered reviews. He said, “It came across as a very positive thing to be that open and that transparent in an age that people are mad at bailouts, people are mad at big corporate America.”

Although Ford’s Fiesta Movement social media campaign has succeeded in heightening awareness about the new model, it has also served as a platform for disgruntled customers. Ford’s Fiesta Facebook page has gotten its share of negative comments since deliveries began running behind schedule.

Former head of digital marketing for Ford Motor Company, Jon Schulz, says social media is a double edged sword. Schulz, who now serves as senior vice president and head of global automotive for Irvine, California-based Specific Media says, “I know the automakers want to get involved in this [social media], but the moment it gets negative, the risks kind of outweigh the benefits.”

He says Buick’s risk is lower than Ford’s since social media is more widely used by the Fiesta’s Gen-Y target market. He said GM is “willing to take some more chances here because it’s not necessarily a strong market for the Buick brand.”

The 2011 Buick Regal went on sale in June and is priced from $26,995 including shipping. The 2012 will be priced lower but will also come with fewer standard features than the 2011 model.

Buick’s annual sales have fallen 89% since 1984, and many U.S. consumers are unfamiliar with its product lineup.

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