Online Communities a Virtual Evolution

Communities in the traditional sense are a group of people who reside in the same area, share a common culture, heritage, interest or characteristics and perceived as distinct from the larger populous within which it exists. (Dictionary.com)

Today thanks to the internet and social media virtual communities are proliferating and the members of a community no longer need to reside in the same area. Social networking enables larger online communities which help people learn more about entities in the network. It has become very easy to build a community using one of many social networks. It would seem the only limitations are access to a social media network and any country restrictions of social networks- I expect the communities will continue to grow as the world becomes smaller as a result of social media.

There are many interest based communities which have been around for a while and which have evolved to meet the needs and desires of the participants. LinkedIn has many groups which allow people to connect with like minded individuals for many reasons; to learn about each other and industry trends (such as BICSI and Structured Cabling Professionals), pose questions and receive answers from the members; find local and virtual training partners (Executive Athletes and Triathlete), to connect with individuals they worked with at past companies (Ex-company groups). Some communities are open allowing anyone to participate while others are closed requiring individuals to be accepted into the group.

Facebook allows users to create groups (communities) for many purposes; to keep others easily informed of upcoming events and past happenings and to track challenges. One the groups I belong to the North Atlantic Audi Group (NAAC) promotes the clubs upcoming events and allows others to post Audi, club and other car related comments for discussion.

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Audi uses Social Media to Build Brand

In 2006, Scott Keogh joined Audi of America as their Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). At that time Audi, unlike Mercedes, BMW and Lexus,  was not perceived as a luxury brand in the United States.  Scott said, “Luxury is a conversation not an ideal. It is about what we most admire and desire and that evolves as consumer preferences evolve. To change the conversation, you have to get into it, and we were not part of the US luxury conversation. It is important to admit reality- if you have a competitor, you have to look at it and determine what you are going to do about it.” Audi was well respected in Germany but not in the US and Scott set out to change that perception by reinventing themselves based on four principles and a social media marketing campaign.  (Lamb, 2012)

Audi’s Four Principles

  • “It is not what you’re driving it is what you are driving for”
  • “Shift from seeking confirmation to achieving admiration” change from he is one of us, to I want to be like him
  • “It’s ok to let them see you sweat” – stare competition in the face
  • Luxury is more about experience than products- obtain greater satisfaction by buying an experience not a material good. (Lamb, 2012)

Audi Uses Viral Marketing

Since 2008 Audi has increased brand awareness in a down economy. They have done so by utilizing “unorthodox” viral marketing campaigns; “Stolen Audi” miniseries TV and YouTube video spots and “Meet the Beckers” video’s aimed at their competition. The “unorthodox” strategy is working for Audi because Audi is perceived as unorthodox in the marketplace. (Schwartz, 2011)

Humor and Risk – from Audi’s “Green Police” 2010 Campaign

In 2010 Audi created a “Green Police” advertisement for the Super Bowl and a series of public service announcements. The goal was to create buzz via humor around the Audi A3 TDI, and bring awareness to sustainability, not poke fun at environmentalists. The ads generated a bit of controversy due to the way Audi portrayed the eco-movement. The American Chemistry Council’s plastic division countered some of Audi’s portrayal of plastics. (Koch, 2010) David Roberts, staff writer of the Grist Magazine, gave more consideration to the portrayal of the green police in the Audi ad and believes people are over thinking the ad and missing the point; “the Audi A3 TDI is green and desirable—indeed more desirable because it is green. Audi is targeting an audience which is not hard core environmentalists; they are targeting those who want to do the right thing. The intended A3 TDI message is “prosperity, pleasure and sustainability can be achieved together.” (Roberts, 2010)

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Racing App and Carticipate

Example Race Monitor information on the iPhone

RaceMonitor, by Karting Coach, is an app which is used by race organizers to provide live stats; timing and scoring to race teams and spectators. We used the app during the Loudon Annoying, 24 Hours of LeMONs race.  By toggling through the app we were able to view our overall standings and our place in class. The app also provided the unique and wacky Lemons team names, the last lap time, the fastest lap time and fastest lap for each team. There are sort functions to allow users to sort racers by position or time.  The app is currently available on the iPhone, Window7 or Android phones, they are working on a BlackBerry version. When at a track the app only works if the race organizer has selected this Race Monitor platform for providing timing. RaceMonitor provides a flyer template to enable race organizers to promote the RMonitor service. The flyer includes QRcodes for each phone to simplify the user experience in accessing the app. Scan the QR code and for iPhone it opens the App Store to the Race Monitor for downloading. For the 24 Hour of Lemons race, the race organizers used the app, they are not associated with the developer, and they use it to get the race info out. As a user of the app I think it is a great tool.

Carticipate is a rideshare application for the iPhone and social network which connects commuters.  The app enables those in need of a ride to connect to those offering rides. The app is available in the United States and Europe. This app has the ability to reduce carbon output and help people save money while providing an alternative means of transportation. This service can be used near where you live to provide a means to commute to/from work, or for the more daring to catch a ride while traveling in another city for business or pleasure. A bit like electronic hitchhiking…fun and exciting but how safe? (Briggs & Lampton). There are a few customer reviews on the itunes app site; one user was skeptical, but pleasantly surprised at how the app worked and is lowering their carbon footprint. Location-based smart phones and social networks enable this service to help people find rides on short notice.  A traffic analytic of unique visitors for the June to Sept of 2011, showed over 800 visitors. (Carticipate)

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A day at the races: 24 Hours of LeMONs – Loudon Annoying 2012

Day One Living up to its name Electile Dysfunction

Saturday morning the ED Jetta is nestled and waiting for drivers in Garage 6. The drivers arrive and begin the race day preparation.

Race day check list:

  • Check Fluids- Oil, Coolant, Power Steering
  • Check Tire pressure
  • Fill Cool Suit cooler with water, ice and dry ice
  • RainX the windshield
  • Check radio communications
  • Check cool suit function
  • Track Time w Mr Smooth
  • And several other items

Track Time and the List to be checked twice

Attend Mandatory Drivers Meeting

Suit up Driver #1, Pete and get him into the car.

Pete getting suited up for the start of the race

Pete getting strapped in

The field of LeMONS cars get lined up to head out into the pits and onto the track for a 10:00 AM race start. Pete hops in line and takes the Electile Dysfunction Jetta out to the pits. Mike C heads up to the stands at turn 2 ready to spot. Mike K, Jon and Michelle are in the garage ready for the day of racing. Shortly after crossing the pit wall Pete attempted to accelerate onto the track. The Monday gremlin was back…the car would not accelerate. Pete brought the car back to the garage. The team lost an hour diagnosing and hunting down the issue before they were even able to start the race- 72nd out of 75 cars.

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Loudon Annoying Event Details ed24lemons May 2012

The Loudon Annoying 24 Hours of Lemons race is this weekend May 5-6.

For all of the Event Details check out Loudon Annoying 2012

Schedule of Events at NHMS

 Friday May 4 Gates open at 7:00 AM

  • Pre-Race Testing  9:00 AM – 5:00PM. Cost $150.00 per car which includes one driver. Additional drivers are $50.00.
  • Technical Inspection- Mandatory– Noon- 5:00PM. The car and at least one driver per team must be present.

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Race Test for 24 Hours of LeMONS Loudon Annoying

In preparation for the upcoming Loudon Annoying24 Hours of LeMONS endurance race on May 5-6, 2012, Mike Collier brought the Electile Dysfunction Jetta GLX to NHMS for a shakedown ensure sure the car was race ready.

Mike’s first test drive saw the ED mobile make it as far as the pits before the car failed to accelerate up to speed. The car would idle fine, however, it would not accelerate it was “dysfunctional”.

Mike put the car back on the trailer and brought it back to the shop and put it up on the lift. Mike spent the day siphoning fuel and replacing the fuel filter. He was able to get back to NHMS and the get the car on the track for the last run session with the Boston Chapter BMW CCA where the Electile Dysfunction ran well.

Catch a few laps around NHMS with Mr Smooth….Mike Collier.

Be sure to follow the blog to see how the team does in competition.

Endurance Race Preparation- Tools and Clothing

One- week to race day: time to create and verify check lists.

Example of Driver Attire

Driver Attire: Are all the items clean and packed in the race bag? Some items from Mike C, Mike K and Michelle were new and required laundering. A socks and underwear wash with mild detergent in cold water and no spin cycle yield a bunch of clean wet clothing. Nomex should not be dried with heat therefore there is a lot of laundry to hang dry. Driving suits typically require dry cleaning.

Check list:  Helmet, neck roll, sunglasses, driving suit, nomex balaclava, underwear and sock, driving gloves and shoes. License, $.

Spare pair of gloves for car fueling, hat to keep the sun off when not wearing helmet & folding chair to rest between driving sessions. Change of clothes and towel for post race shower.

Maintaining proper hydration and staying Cool are important ….

……..especially for the driver

Ultra Chiller shirt and tubing

The Team ED uses Ultra Chiller Personal Cooling equipment to keep the driver cool. The system incorporates a cooler and shirts with tubing. The cooler runs off of a 12 volt cigarette plug and pumps cool water through the shirt keeping the driver cool.

A cooler and plenty of water and Gatorade are important to keep drivers and crew well hydrated. A hat and sunglasses along staying out of the sun when not in the car are equally important.

Tools to keep Team ED and the ED Jetta on track

Spare brake pads, torque wrench, large oil filter gauge with bleeder, impact wrench, hose and chuck, jack and jack stands, brake tool, miscellaneous wrenches, pliers and channel locks

Camera’s and car mounts for capturing on track laps and garage race details

GoPro cameras and mounts

Digital cameras, PCs, USB Drive, chargers, 6 outlet power strip

Car and Paperwork

Car in trailer

Paperwork validating bill of sale and expenses, tech checklist, last year’s “good to go ” sticker

If you are interested in endurance racing and want to see how Team ED performs please follow my blog.