Toyota Introduces “Hybrid” Social Networking

    January 4, 2007

Social networking is a bandwagon; the number of companies that haven’t taken a shot at it is decreasing on what seems like a daily basis. But in its newest incarnation, social networking may have become a reliable and fuel-saving bandwagon: Toyota has gotten on board with a redesigned site for the owners of hybrid vehicles.

The concept sounds a little iffy. Gregg Benkendorfer, the National Manager of Media Strategy and Digital Marketing for Toyota, gave a formal statement on the subject, however, and reminded skeptics that “Toyota’s more than 600,000 hybrid owners are very passionate about their vehicles and the reasons they drive them.”

He’s not exaggerating, either – hybrid owners can be just as “hardcore” as the Viper crowd (in an admittedly different way). Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive site already has almost 10,000 registered users, while the Viper Club of America forum is home to just 5,262 members right now.

Toyota expects that it will continue to draw users, too: “As more and more people submit their reasons and are added to the site, the site will grow organically.”

Yet that doesn’t mean Toyota’s effort at social networking is ideal. According to Techdirt’s Joe, “The mistake in Toyota’s thinking is that the only way to profit from social networking is to set up a site. In fact, they’d probably do better to facilitate and help expand the groups that already exist, rather than taking it all for themselves.”

As a proud (non-hybrid) Toyota owner, though, I’d like to point out that Toyota’s not doing a bad job of “taking it all for themselves.” A BusinessWeek article documented how the car company recently overtook Chrysler “as the No. 3 auto seller in the U.S.,” and how “Ford almost certainly will be passed by Toyota as No. 2 sometime next year.”


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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.