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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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.

Amateur Endurance Racing 24 Hours of LeMONS

Team Electile Dysfunction (Team ED) secured an entry in the Loudon Annoying event thanks to the witty application by Pete. Now the team is tasked to make sure the Car and Drivers are ready for the seasons events.  The team purchased a car previously used for a 2011 ‘LeMONS” race which minimized the car preparation.

Team ED met in early April to start to prepare the car for the track.

Since the team is comprised of experienced and rookie LeMONs drivers it was important for each driver to verify and obtain each had a valid LeMONS membership and all of the required personal safety equipment.

This following is a high level capture of the rules and requirements to race in 24hoursoflemons events. For specific details regarding general rules, safety, requirements, eligibility, vehicle price, teams, driving and penalty rules or anything else related to the event(s) see the official 24 Hours of LeMONS site:

Driver Requirements:

  • Valid US or international Drivers License
  • LeMons Competition Membership ($100.00/driver)
  • Drivers Helmet: Undamaged, full-face Type SA helmet, Snell 2005 or better with working visor in place (it’s your head would you want to use a damaged helmet?
  • Neck Brace– minimum foam roll-type. Huthcens device, D-Cel Harnesses, HANSs devices are strongly encouraged.
  • Fire Retardant Clothing: Drivers Suit,To be worn by all drivers at all times when inside the car. Full SFI 3.2/A or FIA 8856-2000- certified fire-retardant driving suits; Socks and Undergarments: (Nomex, Carbon-X or equivalent), shoes and racing gloves: Fire-retardant FIA or SFI rated are all required.

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Team Electile Dysfunction 2012 ’24 Hours of Lemons’

Hi Classmates and Racing Fans-

This blog includes my social matrix and the tools which I will use to help you all learn about racing in the 24 Hours of Lemons Racing series and Follow team Electile Dysfunction (ED) as they prepare for and race in select races of the 24 Hours of Lemons Series.   

A song to get you in the racing mood:

Rock Feast – Highway Star

What is the 24 Hours of Lemons Race Series?

  • “A nationwide series of endurance races for cars that cost $500 or less.”
  • “It’s not just an oxymoron; it’s a breeding ground for morons. It’s where Pintos and Maserati’s battle to lap a Le Car. It’s where first-timers dice with Nomex-soiling pros.”

Spending more than $500.00 on the car is cheating and you risk having your car purchased by the organizers for $500.00. If the other competitors do not like your team/car you risk having it crushed.

Who is Team ED:

Team ED is composed of five Audi club instructors, Michelle Collier (4racerx) Peter Barada (designated Team Captain), Mike Collier, Mike Kelly and Jon Porath, who each have driving experience, a great sense of humor, and can work together on and off the track to prep/repair the car. All of these skills and more are required of the team. This is not your ordinary car race; driving experience is not a top requirement. Team work, the desire to have fun and the ability to deal with wacky rules and penalties are a must.

How did this group of five educated people get together and enter a car into this wacky race series? Team ED purchased the Sheen Machine, a Jetta VRX for $300.00. The car was prepped and raced by three of this years Team ED, who talked Mike Kelly and myself into joining the adventure.

Car Check, Team Check……Race….

The LeMONs race organizers decide who they want to race in their events. Race experience, driving schools or competitive race licences are not required. A creative race application is imperative, the number of applicants exceed the number of cars allowed and the event masters who want to have a fun event determine who will race by the application the team submits.

Team ED race application: 

“In keeping with the “Electile Dysfunction” theme shown in this year’s race for the Republican nomination, we feel that NH will be a key battleground state and want to drum up pointless support for Newt “I got better” Gingrinch.  In addition to other (probably illegal) campaign plans we believe entering a car in your prestigious “Loudon Annoying” race at NHMS is sheer genius!  The timing of your event can’t be better as by then Newt should be able to enter the Republican Convention with enough delegates (if he’s not dead yet) to make the convention entertaining with the hope that Newt will try to crush Romney’s perfectly coiffed head (leading to hours of fodder for the Daily Show).

Given the fun we all had as “Sheen’s Machine” racing at Stafford last year, we’re planning to send the same crack(pot) team comprising Audi Club instructors along with the same 1994 Jetta GLX to NHMS to do battle with the rest of the “political” field, hopefully bringing more insanity to this year’s Presidential Election.

Of course looks are everything, and our thoughts this year are to go with a Seuss-ified lime green scheme, add plenty of red white and blue pointless political decorations, but as our campaign funds will most likely get diverted to prepare the car, in all likelihood we’ll resort to an 11th hour rattle-can decoration that will blend in with the rest of the field.

Our belief is that Politics should be entertaining, and feel that keeping Gingrinch in the running (like the car) makes for great political theater!”

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