A Moonshot" Idea Drives Social Media Engagement"

Companies that relegate their social media efforts to outbound messages only will quickly find, if they haven't already, their efforts to be a waste of time. 

Eventually, network algorithms will limit these brands' exposure when they do not respond to incoming mentions, fail to engage their current followers in genuine ways, do not take advantage of the content created on their behalf particularly by influencers and do not optimize their entire on-network experience. Creativity, however, still very much has a place on social.

On Aug. 1, Healey Lincoln, a New York-based car dealership started an influencer marketing program that allows the company to reach new audiences through a unique campaign - challenging five prominent local residents who have never owned a Lincoln to drive a new model each month for five months.
The only requirement is that the participants post their honest experiences on social media. Website Magazine caught up with General Manager John Koerner to learn more and hopefully inspire some creativity in our readers' campaigns and look for their own "moonshot" idea.

From a social media marketing perspective, what are some of the goals for the new campaign?

John-KoernerJohn Koerner, Healey Lincoln: We know innovative businesses must branch out from traditional, legacy marketing techniques. We're embracing social media marketing as a way to successfully expand our comprehensive marketing and promotional campaigns through our "Behind the Wheel" campaign.

There are multiple goals for this campaign, but the overriding one is having luxury buyers consider the Lincoln brand. We are confident that the Lincoln brand is strong enough to successfully compete with all other luxury brands in the marketplace. Ultimately, we want to be putting more luxury buyers behind the wheel of a new Lincoln since they'll find that owning a Lincoln is an effortless and memorable experience.      

That's why, for the short-term, we want to increase engagement with luxury car buyers. We believe our five influencers will do just that with the tremendous following they all have on their various social media platforms. While there's no constraints about what they can post, we believe they'll be posting positive experiences about our Lincoln products and that will spark a greater interest in the Lincoln product line. They'll be using the hashtag #LoveHealeyLincoln in all their social media postings, and we'll be looking to see how their followers join in on their social media conversations. Because our influencers will be so engaging and organic, there's no doubt their followers will know the postings are coming from them and not from Healey Lincoln. We are looking forward to seeing YouTube videos and postings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about anything related to the use of the car.   

What types of social media campaigns has Healey Lincoln run in the past or are currently running?

Koerner, Healey Lincoln: Social media campaigns are fairly new to us. Yes, we use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to post messages about new products, special incentives or general sales promotions.  

But, this campaign is different from anything we've done. It's truly outside the box and history making for Healey. We've researched this and we can't find any automotive dealer that's done anything like this.

We've done many different types of campaigns, using different types of data bases to provide detailed demographics on potential customers. We've done campaigns based on consumer behaviors and buying patterns, past vehicle purchases, general consumer interest, family size, careers, income or more, just like other businesses do. We've done direct mail, email, paid print and broadcast advertising and we've done well with those campaigns. 

We've even done specialized campaigns like our "Pay it Forward" campaign, where we go out to gas stations and randomly select drivers at the pump pay for their tank of gas on the spot.  It doesn't matter what type of car they're driving or how old it is.  We've seen positive social media posts as a result of this. Who wouldn't like to have someone pay for their tank of gas? We want them to think positively about Healey now so when it comes time to replace that car, they'll stop by to see us. 

During the holiday season, Healey staff go out to the local toy store and randomly select people with cart loads of toys, and we pay for their purchases. While it has nothing to do with cars, we hope when it's time for them to shop for a car, they'll also stop by to see us.

How did Healey Lincoln come up with the idea for the campaign? What need/business goal/etc. is it filling?

The idea started with us attending the annual Ford-Lincoln Academy, an annual, two-day training conference where representatives from Lincoln dealers nationwide gather to go over best practices geared for the luxury car buyer. 

As part of the conference, each dealer group was asked to come up with its "moonshot" idea, an idea which was out-of-the-box, yet an idea which --- if we put our minds to it --- could really come to fruition.  And, we would be asked to take that moonshot idea --- that ambitious, ground-breaking idea --- and make it happen. This idea was even picked to be the winning idea of the conference, and that made us tremendously proud. We must have gotten the attention of Lincoln executives because when we got home, they called us and said: "You're really going to do this, right?"

We knew we couldn't do it alone, so we quickly partnered with Focus Media, the largest communications firm in the Hudson Valley, to help put things in place. We understand the luxury car market and they understand the Orange County (New York) market, so it was a perfect fit.    
(Participant Claudia Jacobs receiving her keys.)

What are some important metrics or milestones that Healey Lincoln plans to monitor after the campaign is launched? And why?

Koerner, Healey Lincoln: We've done an automotive consumer study prior to the launch of our campaign because we know the importance of having baseline data.  And we'll be measuring against the baseline when we to conduct a post-study at the end of the campaign.  We also expect this will morph into a 10 to 11 month campaign because we plan to apply what we've learned from this first "Behind the Wheel" campaign and run a second campaign with even greater results.  We expect the results to be that we've moved the Lincoln brand much higher in the minds of the Orange County luxury car buyer.  We'll confirm that by looking at how we're growing our market share.

We also know we're not going to change luxury consumer perspectives overnight. It's a process. But we're looking at all the innovative ways we can and this is certainly innovative. This, along with a pre-and post-campaign study, social media comments, community engagement, and looking a growth in car sales are all factors in determining success.   

Anything else you'd like to add?

Koerner, Healey Lincoln: We believe enough in our product to do this. We recognize that, like any business, in order to grow market share, in order to increase sales, you need to find different ways to engage people. You need to adjust with changing times and embrace new marketing tactics. We believe in our moonshot idea and we're looking forward to seeing how it plays out.     Website Magazine will keep our readers updated on the campaign in the coming months.