Automotive Internet Forums – /ROAD TESTAMENT

Automotive Internet Forums – /ROAD TESTAMENT


[MUSIC PLAYING]
J. F. MUSIAL: Hi Mike.
MIKE SPINELLI: Hi Jeff.
J. F. MUSIAL: How are you?
MIKE SPINELLI: Happy
auto show.
J. F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
The last day, fun.
MIKE SPINELLI: The last day
of the Detroit Auto
Show on Road Testament.
We’re talking about
forums today.
J. F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
MIKE SPINELLI: And it’s
something that we kind of
stumbled on when we were walking
around the show and
talking to people.
J. F. MUSIAL: It’s becoming
much more of a relevant
subject at auto shows.
I started off in the forums.
I got into the cars
from car forums.
I learned a lot of my knowledge
from just scouring
car forums when I grew up.
And that was 10 years ago–
even longer than that.
I’ve been around for a while.
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah.
I was never a forum guy.
But the interesting thing is
that now, all these companies
are doing these social media
projects, right?
GM is doing something where
they’re are having online
influencers–
J. F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
Honda has something.
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah, The Chevy
concepts, they’re having
people pick out the concepts
they want to see built.
J. F. MUSIAL: They’re thinking
social media as Facebook,
Twitter, Foursquare, or
whatever, but forums, those
are the enthusiasts.
MIKE SPINELLI: They’re
missing out.
J. F. MUSIAL: They’ve been
around a very long time.
MIKE SPINELLI: Right.
They’re missing out on a giant
group of people who are
devoted to the brands on which
the forums– the forums that
they’re on.
J. F. MUSIAL: A lot of times–
and the interaction with
the manufacturers–
I think that’s what we’re trying
to speak of right now.
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah.
J. F. MUSIAL: It’s not
unprecedented to have BMW
people to go into Roadfly, or
Audi go on to Quattroworld or
Audiworld of the past years.
These manufacturers do
use these forums.
MIKE SPINELLI: Right.
And I know that a lot of them
are really nervous about it
because they see a lot of these
forums as feedback loops
of bad information, where people
start talking crap
about a company, and the
next thing you know–
J. F. MUSIAL: It just spirals.
MIKE SPINELLI: –it just
spirals out of control.
J. F. MUSIAL: And they can’t
defend themselves, because if
they do, then it gets
out of control.
They have no control.
MIKE SPINELLI: Right.
J. F. MUSIAL: They have no
control over it, and that’s
what’s very scary.
MIKE SPINELLI: And they don’t
like to not have control over
the message.
So we’re trying to
figure out–
there are some companies that
are doing really good stuff
with forums.
J. F. MUSIAL: I’m going
to bring up Audi.
We spoke to Zerin before.
Zerin from Speed Sport Life, the
guy that got me into the
automotive industry.
He gave a great example
of how Audi–
they’ve done good things,
but at the same time,
they can’t do it all.
ZERIN DUBE: Now that
manufacturers are interacting
more on Facebook and on
Twitter, it’s the same
mentality with those that
carries over to the forums.
Forums, these guys are a lot
more dedicated, I would say.
These are your enthusiasts
groups.
Twitter, Facebook, a lot of
those, you can just get your
average consumer.
But the enthusiast groups
are all going to
go back to the forums.
So if they embrace what they’ve
done with Twitter and
Facebook and kind of
interact, leave the
conversation to the consumers.
Interact with them, say OK,
here’s the questions.
What would you like to see?
When the consumers respond,
let them respond.
Don’t attack right off the bat
and just strike them out.
Just let them talk.
Once they’re done,
take in the data.
Just listen to it and then come
back and form a response.
And a general response
is probably the best
way you can do it.
MIKE SPINELLI: If a company has
a presence on a forum, put
some people posting
on forums–
people on the forum don’t care
whether it’s a product guy or
an engineer or something.
Sometimes, yeah, you get
some people that.
J. F. MUSIAL: They just know you
work for Audi so you can
do everything.
Or you work for BMW, you
can do everything.
MIKE SPINELLI: If they have
a customer service
problem, like if they–
J. F. MUSIAL: My rim
keeps getting bent.
Whatever it may be.
MIKE SPINELLI: They think that
they can just inundate that
person with a bunch
of information.
It’s tricky.
J. F. MUSIAL: And you want
to know something?
We did speak to BMW, Matt
Russell, earlier.
And he said, yeah, we can use
it, but they are enthusiasts.
They’re on these forums because
they are enthusiasts.
So it is a sample population
of the whole.

As Matt Russell said,
it doesn’t
represent all their customers.
MATT RUSSELL: I think an
internet forum can give us
kind of a trend vector for maybe
a psychographic consumer
mindset or consumer demand.
It can give us maybe a few
directions on where to look
for market research.
We don’t do market research
necessarily on internet forums.
That would not be a large enough
sample for us, and it
wouldn’t be a statistically
valid sample.
But again, we can get an idea
of where to go hunting for
different things, and maybe we
get some ideas for different
areas of the product to do
research on looking forward.
MIKE SPINELLI: It’s a very
enticing thing for these
companies to try to get these
guys on their side.
So there’s a lot of knowledge
in there that
they can tap into.
J. F. MUSIAL: Well VWVortex
is a great example.
Jamie, as you explained,
VWVortex, Volkswagen
enthusiasts are a very big
part of their sales.
MIKE SPINELLI: Right.
J. F. MUSIAL: And the new Golf
R. The product planners went
to VWVortex and said what
do you guys want?
Those are the guys who
are buying the cars.
What do you guys want to buy?
Two-door?
Four-door?
Colors?
What?
Very interesting.
JAMIE VONDRUSKA: We’ve been
working with Volkswagen for
12, 13 years now.
So over time, as the site has
grown and we’ve got a large
amount of their customers on
our website, we’ve forged a
relationship together that’s
been really kind of cool.
They’re a great company
to work with.
They do some great things.
The people are fun
to work with.
So it makes it easy.
And it’s natural for them to
come to us and say, hey, we
need some feedback from some of
our enthusiasts and some of
the people that own our cars
on where we might be headed
with some future product
and that type of thing.
They came to us and said OK,
we’re thinking about two-door
or four-door, why don’t
we run a poll?
And we run that as VWVortex,
and tell our readers,
basically, that Volkswagen
is looking for feedback.
They’re thinking about two-door
or four-door.
Which one would you buy?
And then we bring all
that data back.
And it’s not uncommon for us out
of 5,000 units they want
to sell, to bring them back
10,000 or 15,000 responses.
And if we’re a subset of the
market, it’s good– it’s
actually great for everybody.
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah, there’s a
lot of trust-building that has
to go on with these forums.
It’s so easy to just follow the
social media thing, and
just go to Facebook and go to
Twitter and come up with how
you can talk to the CEO
on a Tuesday in a
Facebook chat room.
J. F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
MIKE SPINELLI: But there are
thousands and thousands of
people in forums that are
really brand-engaged.
It sounds like, brand-engaged–
that’s a marketing term.
J. F. MUSIAL: I think that what
we’re getting to is that
this auto show has shown that
car enthusiasts are starting
to take note of it.
And it’s a good thing, but let’s
see who adopts it fast.
MIKE SPINELLI: Right, exactly.
J. F. MUSIAL: That’s really
what it comes down to.
What do you guys think?
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah,
what do you think?
@drive_tv @Twitter–
speaking of social media.
J. F. MUSIAL: Oh god.
MIKE SPINELLI: Oh, what
are you going to do.
We’re not a car company.
We don’t care.
We just care about you,
the viewer and
the consumer of cars.
J. F. MUSIAL: Good show.
MIKE SPINELLI: Good cars.
J. F. MUSIAL: Oh,
it’s John Elway.
MIKE SPINELLI: John Elway?
[MUSIC PLAYING]

83 Replies to “Automotive Internet Forums – /ROAD TESTAMENT”

  1. As an administrator on a car forum, it is always great to see relations between the board, and the manufacturer or local dealership. Many many times our forum (Toronto Mazda 6) has been invited out to special track days, or promo events held by Mazda. They love our input. We love their reaching out to us. When you can have a link to your forum on Mazda.ca website, that truly shows their appreciation for the club, and that means a lot to the board and it's members.

  2. the only problem with forums is its everyones dirty laundry (including enthusiasts) rarely does someone go on to forums to say how much they like their car. they go on and say something like… hey everyone just bought my fourth cam follower for the gti…. excited to have to rip off the fuel pump again to install it.

  3. Car forums is where we got our start too! With Suzuki SX4 enthusiasts and Ford Mustang enthusiasts.
    Great topic. Glad to hear the manufacturers are taking note.
    p.s. did you say Zerin got you into automotive stuff? I love SSL – Go Texas 😉

  4. no company cares about their enthusiasts. The enthusiasts are your endangered species especially in the performance aspect of vehicles. They want the general public's opinion, its marketing 101, majority > minority.

  5. Man this show is awesome, dare I say better than the slightly tired and over scripted TgUK?

    Although I am a BMW enthusiast myself, I have to commend VW's dedication to their fan base. Not only through event's like Wörthersee 2007 where they unveiled the Golf W12 concept car but also through a deeply routed focus on customer satisfaction. My father met Bernd Pischetsrieder a few years back, who was fervently interested in the problems my Dad was having with his VW's dual mass flywheel.

  6. Great job guys! I'm so glad your on. But whats that devilish looking speedster from Chevy behind you ? with the minimal grill openings I'm guessing electric?

  7. I think the best thing companies can do it's to profesionally "infiltrate" bigger forums, and to grow official relations on different levels with key subject like admins, bookwriterspublishing houses (many authors are active 'popularizer of knowledge' XD), and to create an open, friendly, source of quality 'presskit' kind of material, to promote individual supporting and creative activities. And great job as always.

  8. Chevy has representives on Camaro5, and they are all very helpful and a grand source of information. Even a customer service person to help direct people to the services that they need in the US. Many dealers personally represent themselves as well and do amazing things for the community. Having aftermarket, oem, and dealers all in one place really helps the customers make proper informed decisions on what we need for our cars to suit each individual person.

  9. Who needs car forums when you can go to Jalopnik where they (and the commentariat) know everything about all cars. I've seen some crazy car knowledge on that site.

  10. The things I hate about todays carmakers is how they cut corners to save money, like removing LSD's and switching to front wheel drive. Cars don't get cheaper, but their hardware does.
    And then there's the item of ergonomics, almost never can i put the steering wheel where I want it. I don't have long legs, but not short ones either, but it's just silly that it doesn't come lose enough.
    And the rear seats, many carmakers don't give them much attention.

  11. Hmm, I don't know about car companies getting too involved, I prefer my forums independent and not some controlled marketing environment full of PR crap. And like the BMW guy said, it's only a small amount of the customer base who visits these forums, so it's probably not that interesting for the companies either. They are very loyal customers in general, but that's not necessarily where the money is at and they are also already connected to the brand, so why spend more time on that group?

  12. Personally I frequent VWvortex but more often than not I spend my time over on 034motorsport's forum, motorgeek. We often get Audi involved with our get together's, specifically Battleborn Quattros, which I think is freakin awesome.

  13. The forums are proactively against company involvement. I've tried to get on them to share good information with good intentions, since I see them asking for and needing it. We, the brands, are up to our elbows in it all day learning about this stuff, and 9-5er enthusiasts are asking each other, not the experts, advice. After a week or so they usually tear the manufacturer apart, and the moderators accuse them of aggressive marketing. In theory it's a great idea, but in practice it doesn't work.

  14. why don't manufacturers make an E(enthusiast) model for specific vehicles that have been configured around the enthusiasts' suggestions. i mean new cars have so many different models it's nothing too crazy to do… Enthusiasts are not 'potential' buyers they are 'repeat' buyers

  15. no talk about subaru or acura/honda communites? most of them are larger than BMW. and NASIOC may be one of the largest out there.

  16. @terkelenprobst It's the Chevy Mi-Ray, a hybrid RMR sports car. It was originally shown in Seoul, S. Korea. The hybrid system is assumed to be similar to the 911 GT3 Hybrid's or New NSX's. The motor boosts the front wheels while the engine runs the rears. It is not known how much it would cost, however it's unlikely the hybrid system would make to sale in a small sports car. However, less expensive sports car, as the Kappas were to be, under the Corvette is desired.

  17. The thing to consider in case of mass market cars. Dedicated "enthusiast" will buy the car anyway so why manufacturer should care about their opinion? What they care is how to attract new customers (subaru for example). And twitter, facebook, etc is a good platform to shout to new potential customers; forums are well suited for connection with people who already bought the car.

  18. ive had kawasaki corp. email me about i post i made, sent me free oil and filter to compare there product (in this case new oils) vs what i use, and for them i made post to compare. very cool too see companys look there and even beyond that make an effort to better there image and such. even beyond just oems, we on kawasaki forums got aftermarket companies like ims to make a tank for our bikes (09-12 klx250s), and even members to make runs of products they have made like bill blue's 351 big bore

  19. @sid203 because the people on the forums are probably younger, male buyers who are probably only interested in the latest M series car etc, its not a good place to go and get a valid response for the 40 y/o+ woman who wants a new 3/5 series convertible on what colour trim she likes, wheels etc. its ideal as VW did with the golf R, a pretty specific product for a pretty specific market but its not a varied, diverse, quality sample of the buyers. it may also be very region specific too…

  20. Its really depends on the forums. I love my forum and I have made a lot of "irl" friends from it. But some forums are really close minded and only like a certain engine or drivetrain and aren't open to new things. Or some people just spread bad info because they're dumb. Others are totally open and welcoming to new stuff so it kinda varies.

  21. Shoot, the more I think about it, auto manufacturers should just hang out on Jalopnik comments most of their time. 😛

  22. I must be a little older than these guys because I got a lot of my knowledge from forums, too. PENTHOUSE forums!!!

    See, that's a joke because before the internets, your porn was mostly in magazines like Penthouse and…oh never mind.

  23. One thing companies can get from enthuasts on forums before getting it anywhere else is how to make their cars better. Enthusiasts are the ones who are with a company because they have what they want and when enthusiasts say the cars are getting too big, heavy, cheap interiors, away from their essense, etc, these are the things companies should look at most to actually make a better car. But on the contrary, most car sales dont come from enthusiasts & sales is whats most important.

  24. I am sorry, but the more videos I watch, the more I wonder why I subscribed. Watch 2 men talking about car in general isn't that fascinating, and I'm not a kid who watch Top Gear only, it's just not what I thought it would be.
    More like "Talk" than "Drive".

  25. @TranceAddict2 If the majority of your basis is from his interaction in this video, than the same can be said about James May.

  26. @TheShammies Never said anything about Alex o.O But yes, at least Alex does have personality. I would rather have car presenters with lots of personality like Alex, Derek, and Leo. Too many car shows these days just drone on with boring hosts. It would be more fun to read about the stories than listen to those people

  27. @TranceAddict2 I wasn't. I was just basing it off your logic. James has plenty of personality, but his on screen enthusiasm (even when being funny) is similar to Mike's. If you want to get technical about it, then you can't overlook that. You might assume that James Lipton also has little personality based off his show.

  28. @juukyuu7666 Actually, very many enthusiasts can not afford or wouldn't end up buying the cars they dream up on forums. Enthusiasts also tend to suggest things without taking any other aspect of design, cost, feasibility, economics, and current regulations into account.

    If the adjustments are reasonable, sure, but there needs to be more of a pool than a forum of 500-2000 people who might or could buy it if they made it.

  29. I know for a fact that Ford used a lot of the input from the SHOForum in developing the new 2010 SHO and it's major update in 2013, based on feedback from '10-'12 owners. I like it a lot and glad manufacturers are finally listening to enthusiasts and not just the majority.

  30. i don't get why you're talking about forums when they OBVIOUSLY represent such a small portion of potential buyers… ??? "Audi AG sold around 1302650 cars in 2011" (wheels unplugged); audiworld forums have about 230k members (active users is probably something close to 2K at the very most)… why base ANY decision about your brand/design on the opinions of such a small segment of your market? end of conversation, and no need for an 8 minute video. Guys DRIVE is an awesome channel, but COME ON!

  31. Car forums and other social media outlets are/will be the next big marketing thing.
    Instead of paying millions to run a commercial on tv you can pay someone to post or make content for these websites.
    This is especially important for performance or niche brand/models. Good example is the golf R or the new gt86/frs/brz car.
    Also to the guy saying that the car forums is a small portion of potential buyers.
    Your wrong there are tons and tons of different forums with different users.

  32. Yeah finally talking about forums…I think I mentioned this last week on Youtube, FLD forums, and in an email. Thanks!

  33. tooooooooooooooooo much pointless talking on this chat show………… get to the point, edit the script, self edit…….. too much chitter chatter. this is the third video now i have found with you..l will look at some more but then …… very dull chaps. up the anti please.

  34. As a young person who grew up on forums, and now as an engineer for an OEM, I see both sides of this. I no longer view forums as important for researching new trends and ideas. Mainly now I use it to see if something we saw on test made it to the field. But at the same time, that may be because I resonate with the forum population already and want to see many of the same new features in cars.

  35. I've been enjoying the shows thus far but you guys really got to ditch the background music. It's repetitive and distracts from the content. Otherwise keep up the good work!

  36. please ditch the background music I've been really enjoying all of these shows but it's extremely distracting. Especially in some cases it's been loud enough to make it hard to hear the commentary.

  37. Forums can be great for troubleshooting problems with facts from people who have been there and done that. Unfortunately a lot of info is opinions and you never know if the commenter has an agenda or any first hand knowledge about the subject or is even old enough to drive in the first place.

  38. If enough people use your cars as project vehicles, maybe you as the manufacturer needs to consider a production version. Mazda making a V8 version of their Miata for example.

  39. I think a manufacturer presence is useful if it moves beyond pushing new automotive product. If it supports the ownership experience and supports attracting new drivers to the brand (even if they are in pre-driven cars) the relationship might become more personal and more rewarding for all involved.  

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