General Motors Crisis and Reinvention |Social Media Conference

Wendy Clark, a member of GM’s social media team, talked about how they managed bankruptcy crisis coverage from May 31 to June 5, 2009 and took us behind the scenes to see how GM drives their social media vehicles.

[This post is one in a series from Ragan’s Social Media Revolution Conference, which took place in Chicago on June 24-26.
Browse my social media conference coverage.]

Before we dive into the notes, this is a big week for GM with the opening of the movie Transformers.

USA Today says GM cars are the stars of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.


And now, back to the notes . . .

General Motors on Twitter

Posted live updates of bankruptcy coverage via @GMBlogs

They probably send out between 10 and 20 tweets/day and most of those are answering people. New product news gets tweeted – like Chevy Equinox. Interesting things like EPA rated Equinox with 32 mgp. Some tweets about personal and mix in business, some business only.

Concentrated on twitter to reach consumers who might have lost faith in the company – they have 30,000 followers collectively among all employee twitter accounts.

When she started they had 400 in communications, by the fall they will have 100.

General Motors YouTube Channel: GMBlogs

Use YouTube to post videos, but they turn off comments because they’re not constructive.

FastLane Blog carries coverage. They use Cover it Live as a way to save money.

General Motors on Facebook results since June 1

750 + comments on videos and comments posted to the page since June 1

1,511 fans made use of new Facebook interaction tools by “liking” the posts

Bloggers who reacted brought attention and interest as they told their take.

Chris Brogan “Pay Attention to GM this Week”

Geoff Livingston’s interview with Chris Barger, GM’s head of social media


Opened GM Reinvention Social Media Sharing Portal


Start of a listening portal – link to flickr with over 3,000 photos, click to follow twitter and Facebook. Live chats promoted here as well.

[Take a careful look at this – really good example of how to consolidate, package and direct social media interactions from one central site.]

GM Social Media History

January 2005: Fast Lane blog launched

June 2006: FYI blog

Early 2007: Blogger relations functions directed to different types of bloggers: automotive, mommy, green with appropriate and relevant messages

July 2007: Facebook – work with them directly

January 2008: @gmblogs on – follow back bloggers always

Conversion is their new measurement tool.

Social media team

Main things: reach new bloggers, education with a social media 101 – try to reach marketing and communications.

Intense sense of urgency: there is no tomorrow

Let nothing factually inaccurate go unchallenged

Be humble and acknowledge mistakes and past sense, without simply falling on sword

Remember the goal: win affinity, not just self-defense

Be humans in our interactions, not just messengers

Never misrepresent yourself – say who you are and who you represent.

Being on social media all day can be draining – it’s tough if you see negative comments all day.


How do you reach bloggers?

Work with BlogHer. Use – you can find out who’s in your city on twitter.

How do manage the legal review process?

Getting more noticed now, especially with the FTC monitoring blogs. Policy is, if you want to review a vehicle you get a one week loan. Because it’s earned media, the legal guidelines are different than they are for marketing.


Note: Lightly edited transcript based on Barbara Rozgonyi’s reporting. May contain inaccuracies and typos. Also missing other opinions; please add yours.

Thanks to Ragan Communications for the ticket and to CME Group for hosting!

Social media conference coverage.

Read #ragansocmed, @wiredprworks twitter coverage or browse all #ragansocmed coverage.


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