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Editor's Choice, Featured, Tyre Industry

Goodyear & Apollo: Tyre Giants Of Social Media

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Posted: January 12, 2016 at 11:28 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Social Media! What’s the first thought that comes to your head? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, ummmm… Maybe Orkut-if you have not been active on social media in the last decade. What about Business, Tyres, Product education and direct link with customers? Can it be possible to improve on the above mentioned parameters in tyre industry by using the social media platform?

Sceptically, you might say it all sounds pretty nice and dreamy but the ground reality is different. However, the optimist in me screams that with optimum use and clever marketing it is not only possible but, it can turn out to be the best marketing investment you did on behalf of your company.
If you have read my last article “Metzeler: Then & Now” you would be aware of my love for including famous and infamous quotes in my writings. Keeping on with that tradition, here is another one to get us started: In words of the World renowned Marketing speaker Mr. David Meerman;

“You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”
Show me one business organization that does not crave attention and publicity. It is at the end of the day what we all strive for. That same attention and publicity is why we spend millions on our marketing strategies, it is the need for attention and publicity amongst the customers that drives us to employ Advertising agencies and marketing wizards at huge cost to the company. Well, believe me – those agencies and wizards are using the same platform to sell your product. So am I here implying that the Tyre industry is not using the same platform to improve their business and reach to the end consumer? No not at all. In fact, there are some manufacturers who have realized the potential and possibilities that come with the optimization of social media platforms and, have made the best use of it

Notably, if talked about global marketing, it would be with respect to Goodyear Dunlop and Bridgestone. Bridgestone, the front runners in use of social media platform was one of the first tyre companies to launch a micro site in 2005. This micro site was completely dedicated to raising awareness about all aspects of motoring safety for its consumers. With the launch came the step that was seen as a highly unusual and unnecessary as far as the tyre industry was concerned. In a marketing strategy that placed Bridgestone on every internet user’s desktop screen, Bridgestone started promoting their micro site on Facebook & Twitter. This step ensured that the message was read by as many people as possible. Bridgestone addressed the tyre safety issues by asking the drivers about what they already knew and presenting that information in an entertaining and memorable fashion.

As perceived, the campaign was an overnight success and placed Bridgestone in a league of its own when it came to customer interaction and customer satisfaction. Naturally sales went up too.

Earlier in 2013, Goodyear Dunlop proceeded with a similar strategy. In the year that coincided with Goodyear Dunlop’s 125th anniversary, the company decided to hire a digital marketing agency called Critical Mass owned by Omnicom, to handle its social media and community management.
Jumping straight into the thick ends of the action, Critical Mass devised a strategy where it started a Facebook competition to create new designs for the Dunlop sponsored JMW Ferrari racing. Again the campaign was a huge success and brought together end customers from every walk of life.

As far as the impact of social media in India is concerned, the proof is there for all to see. Be it the promotion of a businesses, promotion of political parties or Bollywood movies. Social media has turned into a must visit must use platform for all kinds of business activities. So is it safe to say that “Social Media Is Not Just Social instead, has turned into a perfect platform to advertise and promote business & building Brands. We at Tyre Times believe so.

And with that belief we went ahead to check if the tyre companies and manufacturers are using this platform for marketing & brand building exercises or not. Also of those who are using this platform, how many of them are actually aware of the impact it can have on their branding and business.

For that purpose we did a little survey of our own on TEN big Tyre Brands in India and, designed a table that is given below:
Rank Brand FB Page On Website FB Likes Last Post
1 Goodyear Yes 4,69,117 Nov. 2013
2 Apollo Yes 2,67,128 April 2014
3 Michelin No 2,09,778 April 2014
4 CEAT Yes 1,71,799 April 2014
5 Jk Yes 1,17,039 April 2014
6 MRF Yes 14,237 April 2014
7 Yokohama No 177 Feb. 2014
8 Bridgestone No 822 May 2012
9 Continental No N.A N.A
10 Pirelli No N/A N/A

As you can see in the table above, we have ranked the mentioned ten big Tyres brands in India. These rankings are based upon the fan following these brands have on their official Facebook page as on April-23-2014. And, clearly Goodyear sits pretty at the top with almost twice as many followers in comparison to Apollo which is ranked #2.

If we talk about India, it seems like The Tyre Industry is still coming to terms with the effectiveness of social media. We have seen the likes of Apollo, Continental, Goodyear, Yokohama and MRF with their Facebook pages in India. However, the current state of some of these pages leaves much to be desired and is probably doing more harm to the brand than to help build it.

For example: Goodyear Tyres India which is undoubtedly one of the most successful and popular brands in India, when it comes to social media (and we are talking stats from Facebook only) the number of likes they have on their page is 4, 69,117. However, their most recent post was dated November.20.2013. Surely they can do with a new update to keep up with the trends and to keep their customers interested. In comparison, Apollo India, one of the fastest growing Tyre Brands in India has a page liking of 2, 67,132 and their last update was April 2014. Apollo is continuously engaging its end users with campaigns such as; ‘Trip to Manchester’ and ‘football facts’ partly because they have recently associated with premier football club Manchester United. Through this association, Apollo is trying to get more and more people associated with their brand. For accomplishing this, they are giving away trips to Manchester. A more important fact here is that they are educating the consumer about their brand too. It is a win – win situation for Apollo.
Another brand which is quite regular when it comes to updating their Social media pages is CEAT. They post an update on their Facebook page almost every day. Still, they only have a following of 1, 70,749. From what we saw on CEAT’s Facebook page almost every other post of theirs is an advertising for the brand. Social media is supposed to be used as an interactive tool, a platform to exchange ideas and information. The reason Apollo has done so well in this field is simply because they’ve used it a tool to get up close and personal with their customers. By posting trivia’s, asking users to add their thoughts and comments, by initiating debates and forums. CEAT however has used it as more of a Branding tool. Fair play but with a little more emphasis on interactive part of Facebook and CEAT could have been a leading Brand on Social media platform. Also Jk tyres has gathered up quite a following on their Facebook page with 1,17,038 and, with the kind of social posts they are updating their page with! Jk Tyres will without a doubt pull more users to their page in time.

With other brands though, the story is quite different. Yokohama only has 175 followers while Falken has a following of 206. With the kind of strides Falken Tyres have made in the Indian market and, the kind of Goodwill they have generated in their second coming, one would think they will at least try to pull and educate more people about their Brand. In this case however, there is a lot they could have done but instead have done so little when it comes to using the social media to promote and advertise their product. We cannot even begin to imagine the kind of leaps they could take with a little more effort in educating the Indian customer about their Brand. Well at least they have a Facebook page for Indian consumer, while Kumho Tyres did not even deem it necessary to have a dedicated page for Indian customer. Similarly brands like Continental and Pirelli do not have a dedicated social platform for Indian customer. Especially Continental a Brand that is trying to establish & portray itself as a big player in the market. To not have a presence on such a simple but effective marketing platform is, in a quite straightforward manner “Baffling”. We suggest that if they really want to be reckoned as a force in the market, they better get on it for the sake of their own promotion.

Now I would like to give a special mention to one of the biggest tyre manufacturers in India, “MRF.” MRF gathers up a number of 14,058 followers which is not exactly great in this day and age where social networking is almost as effective as direct marketing. MRF which spends so much on electronic and print media can probably do good to itself by diverting a bit of that budget to the social marketing .
“It is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.” Clay Shirky, author, professor.
We do believe that as more Brands, dealers and other related businesses in Indian tyre industry are now starting to realize how big of a tool social media is, for customer relations and enhancing their brand’s image. We believe that they will soon be using this knowledge to create an advertising vehicle that will give them greater results with tangible benefits for years to come.
Apollo Tyres, Goodyear, Ceat, Michelin and JK are examples of businesses that have used this social media platform to a great result and with that have created goodwill amongst their end users by fulfilling their promises. The social media is and certainly will become the most sought after marketing tool in India as it has in the west. It is but a matter of time and a question of who takes the initiative to grab it by the neck. Of course, possibilities are endless and the two above mentioned brands are proving this every day.

Note: This article was written after visiting Facebook links provided on the websites of the mentioned Brands. For those, who did not have a Facebook link on their company website, the page which said Official on Facebook was used. In case of any questions and queries related to this article please contact Mr. Amit Sharma on info@tyretimes.com.
Amit Sharma

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