Mercedes-Benz magisterially took on Twitter to promote the launch of a new great feature for us all urban dwellers. The Park-Assist feature can actually alert you to empty parking spots as you cruise around in your new Mercedes.
To promote the feature — and the new cars — Mercedes-Benz chose a parking frustration high season: Christmas, in a heavily urbanized environment: Stuttgart, Germany. The company then sent cars driving around town, automatically sending geo-tagged tweets about every empty parking spot they found for anyone using on Twitter to use.
The new feature is actually pretty nifty, once it finds a suitable parking spot, another feature takes over and virtually parallel parks the car for you…. But hey! Look at me here, playing up Mercedes-Benz features as if I owned their stock! It’s not even a favorite car brand of mine! — I lean more to BMW in this category. I’m falling right into the trap I’m describing below.
With this campaign Mercedes-Benz’s reached their primary objective to get a lot of buzz and free press out of it; as well as to build the perception of brand on the cutting edge of new media communications and, a brand that gives back to the community.
Imagine this! A luxury brand that leverages features — normally only available to its high-end car owners — to benefit everyone’s frustration and quality of life. WOW!! How great of a brand this is! How talkable!
Maybe I’m a purist, maybe I’m professionally biased or somehow anal as to how social media is to be used; whatever it is, the last tweet date showing on the 3 months old — but now defunct after December 22nd, its only day in existence — @MBTweetFleet Twitter account, is December 22nd 2011 and might be presents several problems for the brand:
— Many are now know aware of the park assist feature and the above video is still running strong; suggesting Mercedes-Benz as still engaged in alleviating parking frustration; i.e. has a long tail of new people coming in awareness of the “exploit”
— But the deserted Twitter account only reflects a brand who did a quick veni, vidi, vici
— This may leave several people feeling a bit bait-and switched. I know I did: No more free spots tweeted after 12/22!
But keeping a bunch of chaps cruising around in Mercedes, to tweet free parking spots, for free, is probably not the most scalable solution.
Nevertheless, whoever the “social media maven” is at Mercedes-Benz, they seem like a smart person but who either has very little clout to dictate how things are to be run or is someone who just doesn’t give a hoot about managing expectations. Lucky for them, very few customers today will scratch beyond the video gone viral.
Most will gobble up the story and reheat it as a cool point to bring up in conversations; further spreading the word about how cool Mercedes-Benz is. Best case scenario, the video will spark an idea somewhere that will actually live on.
Even then, it still doesn’t excuse Mercedes-Benz. How about:
- Opening up the option for the new happy owners to anonymously share their free parking spots data?
- Posting one last tweet on that @MBTweetFleet account, thanking all for the fun?
- Redirecting visitors to this last tweet, to a better description of the park assist feature than the awfully written one on the DaimlerChrysler blog?
- What else do you think the company could have done for a more graceful exit?
I believe the opportunity was — and still is — huge for Mercedes-Benz, too bad they’re not riding it properly so far.
It won’t take long for the social customers we are, to graduate in sophistication and to become more discerning. To know better than fall for similar bait-and-switch campaigns. Let us, for now, take this excellent experiment as a lesson learned in expectations management in social media marketing. R.I.P @MBTweetFleet…!
Thanks for the experiment anyway Mercedes-Benz! Thanks also to @melbaroudi for pointing out this video to me.
If anyone hears of developments by Mercedes-Benz on this story, please do let me know down in the comments.