One of the most respected auto makers in the industry, Mercedes-Benz, has just launched a new social network/crowdsourcing website titled “Generation Benz”. An invitation was sent out this morning to, I assume, members of the Mercedes Owner’s Club. It is exciting to see such a well-established brand launch themselves into social media, and I am even more excited to be one of the first to be able to use it.
The site itself is rather average. Terrible UI, very simple navigation, etc. Despite that, I think that the features are pretty cool. They include:
Sessions. This section allows members to interact in real time with Generation Benz members during “Special Viewing Sessions”. The first session is scheduled for June 24th, where they will be giving a sneak peak at the upcoming GLK.
Discussions. This section gives members the ability to comment on new ideas. They include TV commercials, social commentary, polls and looks at other brands. I’ve already had the opportunity to view a new commercial for the new GLK and gave some feedback.
Studio. This is a section for users and admins to upload pictures and video (mostly about their Mercedes). There are also contests such as the “Junk In Your Trunk” contest where users post pictures of what they keep in their trunks.
Network. This is the social network aspect of the site. It allows people to view other members’ profiles and see what type of things they are interested in, what car they drive, etc. It’s very simple with limited profile information.
Other aspects of the site include: Message Center, Events, Activities, News and Polls.
Mercedes is obviously realizing that their market is about to change. With their current audience retiring and becoming fiscally responsible, members of Generation Y are beginning to go out, get jobs, and most importantly, gain some disposable income. This seems to be a good move for Mercedes as they will gain a younger audience as well as get feedback from their new target market in regards to what they like and want.They also ask which social networks their users are active in, most likely to know what to give their attention (and money) to.
I think that U.S. manufacturers should take a hint and follow suit. Maybe they can finally regain the success and prominence they once had.
Do you think this it makes sense for an auto maker to move into social media? Let me know!
UPDATE: Andrew from Generation Benz sent me a link to allow others to start joining their community. You can check it out at: www.GenerationBenz.com/insider