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The North American International Auto Show 2012: How the Automotive Industry is Embracing Social Media

January 26, 2012
at 1:36 pm PST

As a Michigan native, I was raised in a state well known for one industry in particular: Automotive. This past week, the automotive industry was placed on spotlight at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, featuring the latest innovations in automotive designs, engines, interior options, and more. This year’s attendance to the 9-day show topped 800,000, with the largest opening day crowd since 2005! Historically, this industry has utilized traditional forms of communication to harness attraction from the public. However, trends are showing how this industry is embracing social media to broaden its outreach.

Collaborating directly with Eric Hoppe, a Social Media Analyst in Michigan who works specifically on automotive campaigns, we explored emerging social media trends at this year’s auto show. Through photos and insights collected live from the Auto Show floor, we exchanged exciting dialogues about how social media is positively impacting the automotive industry.


From the showcase floor of the 2012 North American International Auto Show, Hoppe sighted numerous instances of social media as an outstanding tool of live engagement with the venue’s 800,000+ visitors. Throughout Cobo Center, multiple HD screens displayed live Twitter feeds of conversations related to the event. These conversations were upbeat and exciting, rotating among various tweets in real time.

This physical display of live engagement with automotive fans fueled them to keep tweeting about the event throughout the day, uploading photos and status updates to multiple social media properties beyond Twitter. Traditional brands, such as @Buick seen above, also were hard at work, responding to tweets in real time and pushing interesting content out into the Twittersphere. Coda, an emerging electric vehicle brand, had set up a dedicated booth with multiple monitors encouraging visitors to retweet various hashtags, including #CodaCommitment.

In addition to these wonderful social media assets deployed throughout Cobo Center, a mobile presence engaged visitors as well. Static, yet trendy QR barcodes, were placed on multiple showcased vehicles, delivering an interactive component to the vehicle which allowed visitors to scan the code and visit a social media site, or download an application…all in real time from the touchscreen of their mobile device in close proximity of the vehicle. Cool, right!?

Throughout our 9 day journey at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, we see how social media has taken the automotive industry to the next level, driving two-way engagement to a product that has historically been thought of as an icon only aired in 30 second, one-way television commercials featuring windy roads and shiny cars.

Lastly, in an interesting finding by the digital research firm, eMarketer, I uncovered how much of an influence social media has held on US automotive customers. In one finding, 40% of 1,967 respondents said they’d “use social media to recommend a brand or model to their friends.” In another finding of the same respondent pool, 33% said they “tweet about a new vehicle purchase.”

As shown throughout our research exploration, social media has delivered a strong impact on automotive industry stakeholders of both ends. Fortunately, automotive manufacturer brands are embracing this new media to drive engagement with existing and potential customers. Overall, we hope you enjoyed this 9-day journey into how automotive is embracing the power of social media!

Kudos to Mr. Hoppe for a wonderful collection of photos from the auto show. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!

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2 Comments.


  1. I was lucky enough to be apart of the NAIAS Press Days and while I did see the interactive social media elements of the show itself the impact this medium of media is going far beyond displays and into the actual cars. I was excited to see two of these cars pictured in your blog, those being the Chevy Code 130R and the Chevy Tru 140S. These Cars are specifically targeted toward the Millennial Generation (12 to 30 years of age) who are the largest users of social media sites. Amongst other research Chevy found that not only does this generation want reasonably priced cars, good looking, and roomy enough for friends they want a car that interacts with all their technology. These cars offer WiFi and the system MyLink providing constant connectivity with the social media site of your choice. The car acts as a docking station also providing touch screen controls mirroring the latest phones and tablets. With these two concept cars Chevy is creating a car that integrates the automobile into the ranks of social media. As these two cars are only concepts Chevy looks to improve on them with hopes to one day have them actually hit the streets. The car company plans to continue their research by using social media as their platform for conversation. They know facebook, twitter, blogs are where the talking takes place and thats where they will go in order to make the cars their consumers want.

    Your blog shows great examples of how social media was present at the NAIAS but it also is going far beyond the show room floor and into the drivers seat!

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    • Michael Hopps

      Wow, very interesting insights, Aleksandra! Glad to hear your thoughts on two of the vehicles featured in the blog post. Thanks for teaching us about the Wifi and MyLink connectivity features, that’s very interesting to hear! From a Cisco collaboration standpoint, it’s all about the network ;)

      What are your thoughts on Chevy’s MyLink VS Ford’s MyTouch interface? Are there some similar features in each? Or are they two different products?

      -Michael

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