Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saturn takes a right turn.

Back in late-April, on these very Web pages, I called out the Saturn car company for its failure to engage with its customers. As rumors circulated about the company’s potential sale—or imminent demise—I pointed out there was a glaring lack of information coming from the company’s ImSaturn social network site, a place where many true brand fans would go to first for breaking news.

In my story, I cited a crucial two-week period in April when there was just a single posting on the ImSaturn site, compared to 20 entries at a site called Saturnfans. This fan blog was reporting all the news and rumors it could get its hands on while urging loyalists to “Save Saturn”. As I said in my post, it looked like “the brand fans are more passionate about saving the company than the brand employees.”

Well in the past couple of months, coinciding with Saturn’s sale to the Penske Automotive Group, I’m happy to report that things have changed. Since returning from its near death experience, Saturn has made a couple of moves that deserve to be applauded.

Good Move #1: They showed they were listening.

After the initial blog post, a Saturn executive in Detroit took the time to write in a comment to the blog where the story originally appeared, Loyalty Truth. He seemed genuinely concerned as he said: “We will take your observations to heart and examine if we can improve the information flow on the site. We were the first auto brand to have this type of site, and it has been a learning process.”

This comment showed that the folks at Saturn had their ears to the ground and were listening—and just as importantly, responding. And while talking to Loyalty Truth, apparently our Saturn exec also had a few words with the folks manning the ImSaturn site, because another change became apparent.

Good Move #2: They started talking again.
As a current Saturn owner, once the sale was announced I received a letter in the mail updating me on the news and “this new chapter in the Saturn story.” Upbeat and personal, it gave me a sense of promise and enthusiasm that was missing from the press reports.

This sent me to the ImSaturn site to see what was happening there and I came away impressed. The “Saturn team” who posts entries on the blog had picked up their output considerably, including updates on the sale and its aftermath. They also added a pleasing mix of comments from Saturn fans who were genuinely excited about the brand’s second life.

The Net: While Saturn still has an uphill climb, at least they’re back in the game and engaging with their customers again. Hopefully, they can maintain this new found passion and commitment as they move forward.

It just goes to show you that in social media, as in life, it’s never too late to make things right.

This blog entry was previously published July 22, 2009 on Loyalty Truth by Tom Rapsas. An independent Creative Director, Writer and Strategist, Tom can be reached at tomrapsas@gmail.com.

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