Chevy Lends Sonic to Those with Klout

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Chevrolet is teaming up again with Klout, the ranker of “social influence.” This time, GM hopes to plant seeds of enthusiasm with some of Klout’s highest-rated social-media mavens about the new Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car that is being launched these days.

As part of the social marketing cross-promotion, Chevy will pay Klout an undisclosed sum to arrange three-day loans of its new American-made car to people with a Klout score above 35 in five cities. The Klout selectees won’t be obligated to write something positive about Sonic or actually anything at all, though Chevrolet has to make sure the recipients of its largesse report the transaction under recent FTC guidelines covering bloggers and other social-media acolytes.

The brand is hoping for magic similar to what it achieved earlier this year when GM lent Volt to 20 Klout-approved participants; all but one complimented the car in their blogs.[more]

“It’s effective for getting out the message,” Chevrolet spokeswoman Cristi Vasquez told Ad Age. “One of the things we’ve found is that the best way to get people to change their perception about our company is to get them behind the wheel.”

A similar strategy certainly worked for Ford when it took the trailblazing step in 2009 of getting 100 bloggers and other online influencers behind the steering wheel of its new Ford Fiesta. Calling the initiative the Fiesta Movement, Ford sparked massive interest in the new car with the tactic, which helped propel Fiesta to a very successful launch — and presumably played a role in creating the car’s continuing sales success.

But it’s questionable whether Chevy has climbed on the Klout bandwagon too late — or perhaps even inadvisably. The service has created plenty of skepticism lately by changing its influence-measuring algorithm, which significantly altered its gauges of many social-media influencers, and for other shortcomings.

At this point, those problems are probably of little matter to Klout’s twenty-something fan base, which is the target of what Chevy purports to be its best American-made subcompact nameplate ever. Many target customers for Sonic will probably be hanging on the bloggers’ every curve.

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