Is the car the ultimate mobile device? Toyota thinks so. With Salesforce.com, they’ve launched a social network for Toyota owners and drivers that keeps them connected to Toyota, to its dealers, and to other drivers. Time will tell if this takes hold, but you have to admit that the Internet-connected car is closer to reality than ever before, and even before we reach that state, we all have network-connected phones with is in the car. The question is, what do you do with that auto(mobile) computing power?
Vertical online communities, such as Caregiver Village, have always been with us in the form of communities of interest, communities of circumstance, communities of purpose, and communities of action. So, Ujala Sehgal of Fishbowl, N.Y., shares Toyota‘s go at it, Toyota Drivers Get Their Own Social Network.
Toyota announced that it plans to develop a private social network for its vehicle owners called Toyota Friend. The network, set to launch in 2012, will be developed with San Francisco cloud-computing company Salesforce.com, and will enable drivers to stay connected with their cars, their local dealers, and each other–using their car. “The car is the true mobile device,” Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, said recently, according to The Atlantic Wire.
Also check out Engadget’s reporting, Toyota to launch social network for people who like to befriend car dealerships.
My advice to Toyota is to hire as many passionate community managers as you can. Who love cars, yes, but more so, are passionate about catalyzing conversation, keeping the momentum after pouring in the energy to not only moderate but to be encouraging and empowering — essentially, someone who is trained in organizational development or hosting amazing dinner parties. For the first six months, it will be (or feel like) 100% Toyota staff or outsourced Toyota staffers (like the team at Abraham Harrison). The community will never be 100% self-perpetuating. The community will always need shepherds to keep the flock together. Though it will surely help, the passion of people about their Toyota will never be quite good enough, though I would recommend keeping the Tundra and Prius crowd sufficiently separated.
What do you think about the power of the private social network?