Over the past few years, I have gotten to know Bill Prosperi through Twitter and his blog. He is known in the online automotive community for two things – his grumpy Smurf profile image (see it here) and his passion for all-things-Mazda. I recently asked Bill to write about how he went from an enthusiastic Twitter user who talked about Mazda’s products to a recognized online ambassador for the brand.
Oh, so that is a Twitter….A few years back, a co-worker mentioned this thing call Twitter. At the time, it was relatively new and users were just getting on board. Said co-worker took ample time out of my day to explain it to me, but I just shook my head and called him a ‘dork’. (It’s all good, such banter every day helped with the stress of our daily work.)After I left his desk and headed back to mine, I thought to myself, “What use is there to expressing myself with only 140 characters?” I am Italian; I can’t even get a thought out in 140 words and hand gestures!A good block of time would go by before another co-worker would convince me that Twitter was a good thing. He showed me how searching for tweets made his everyday battle of supporting SharePoint easier. I figured this might be a tool for my work in Litigation Support and E-Discovery, so I joined.At first, I did not do a whole lot with it and rarely tweeted. I eventually gained some followers and then things started to take off. I joined Twitter to increase my awareness in the world of Legal IT and maybe talk a little car stuff. That didn’t last long.Here I am, almost three years in the Twitterverse and am I still tweeting about Legal IT stuff? Not really. Do I still talk about cars? One could say that. I even have two accounts. My wife says that I am addicted. Little does she know that I could quit at anytime. Just as soon as finish going through my timeline one last time. Or two. OK, maybe tomorrow.I quickly learned that to survive on Twitter, communication is a must. No one wants to follow an account that rarely says anything or has little two way communication (unless the account is one of those Internet Marketers who do nothing but follow one another).I quickly found an interest to talk about – my car and its brand. From there, things have only blossomed. I sought out other Mazda owners to talk to, dealers who had a presence, and people who work for Mazda. I also had a column in TweetDeck dedicated to searching for the term ‘Mazda’.When someone had a question about the brand on that channel, I would give an honest answer. It didn’t take long for Mazda to reach out to me and make me an ‘Influential Owner.’ To me it was a high honor that the brand I enjoy found me to be important to them.Now, whenever the time comes, I get to provide input on many different marketing strategies from Mazda and see them before they go into print. Not all of them, but some. Often, via Facebook and Twitter, members of this group of brand ambassadors will come together and work on ways we can promote the brand ourselves. Whether it be through social media, blogs, or owner meet-and-greets such as Mazda Movement; we constantly work to promote the brand. We do it for love, and Mazda is often there with a helping hand to promote our ideas. An example of the group coming together for the good of Mazda is the recent owners corral at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on September 16-18 for the Rolex Grand Am EMCO Gears Classic. Through forums, Facebook, and Twitter, we dwarfed the others in the number of owners represented there. Mazdas nearly doubled the second largest group!It was a great time and a lot of good was done for a good cause, Make a Wish Foundation. There were so many owners; I only got to talk to a few in between all the action on the track. My son made sure we spent lots of time at the track. For me personally, this opportunity means support for a Tumblr site I created to collect owner photos and stories that showcase our marquee. So far, that has started off slow but is gaining momentum.Mazda has seen that social media is an important tool to help with brand awareness as well as a place where word can travel fast, good and bad. They have realized that they can not do it alone with so many outlets and that is where we come in. When you have something that you are passionate about, the willingness to help comes easily. Being a part of the Mazda brand makes the Twitter experience all the more fun. The vast majority of my followers are people in and around the auto industry and automotive enthusiasts who like hearing from me about Mazda. I love talking to them on various subjects and discussing the latest news. Then there is my small, but ever growing, group of ‘family’ that proves a common factor can grow into something much more. Things like that are what social media is to me.Is that what it is for everyone? Probably not. The joy of social media is that you can make it what you want and grow it how you want. For me, the more the merrier and once I am in a comfort zone, I can really get talking. I mean tweeting.