Harley Davidson’s Social Ride on Full Throttle

By: Zorro D In: Google Optimization

29 Jun 2012

There are not many brands that can brag about their logo tattooed on their shoppers’ bodies. Nor are there enough companies that can congratulate themselves on their online fan-base. Harley Davidson (HD) is one such brand, or must I say a cult brand. Having accrued over two million fans on Facebook, over thirty three thousand followers on Twitter, over eleven thousand subscribers on YouTube and over forty thousand friends on MySpace; Harley Davidson makes use of social media in an integrated and subtle fashion!

How does the motor giant actually use social media?

Harley Davidson is not a brand that will shout out its social media strategy for everyone to know…It doesn’t even need to do that…On observation, however, we find that the social media strategy is a tad different from other players in the social arena. The company uses social space not to build brand awareness directly but, instead to encourage its fans to project brand loyalty openly, to take ahead HD lifestyle, to uphold HD ideals and thus to strengthen HD’s reputation indirectly.

Let’s hear what Randy Sprenger, Manager of electronic advertising and direct promotions, has to say about the company’s social media strategy…Here he answers the questions shot at him in an interview featured in Adweek magazine:

“One of the greatest advantages for social media is the voice of the customer. We’ll post a question, such as, ‘Are you in favor of darkening the bike out, blackening the bike out or shiny chrome?’ We’ll get customers to comment. It won’t be unusual to receive 300 to 500 comments. It helps us learn what people are saying outside the walls of Harley.”

When asked as to what’s the real secret behind HD’s social marketing strategy, Randy replied:

“Our idea is that we are close to the customer. And we’re not just saying, ‘We are close to the customer.’ We are actually riders. We participate in events as riders. I think one of the greatest strengths is the passion and enthusiasm here at the motor company for our riders. We always want to be out, talking to them – whether it be at [big bike rallies like] Sturgis or Daytona Beach or a [local] rally. We want to shake hands with riders and hear what they have to say.”

So, Harley seems to be tickling the emotional heartstrings with posts like – How old were you when you first dreamed of owning a Harley? You may say it’s primarily about creating an experience around HD motorbikes rather than selling the product directly. And that does not necessarily go into saying that the company does not organize any polls or contests at all. Of course, it does and pretty lucrative ones… An official HD tweet reads something like – ‘Win an HD motorbike!’ Now, who’s gonna turn that down?

Uniting fans with HOG (Harley Owners Group)

Harley has always tried to pull fans to its own community – HOGS. HOG is the ‘soul’ of Hardley Davidson; a bustling community of HD fans; of people who eat, drink and sleep Harley! From participating in national rallies to getting access to HOG magazine, there are many benefits of being an HOG member. The Events section keeps the members posted about all upcoming Harley events. And then there are Local Chapters that let you connect with your local Harley buddies. So, it’s all about bringing Harley fans together and sharing experiences. And with fans evangelizing on a community like this, it helps a lot with word-of-mouth publicity.

Consolidated Social Media Strategy

So far, Harley Davidson has focused on a consolidated social media strategy which means they do not separate out their social profiles on the basis of type/ model of automobile. And if a consolidated strategy is working well for them, they don’t need segregated profiles. But, they will have to think over it in the coming times.

Fish where the fish are

The company targets a customer-base that is mostly young and social space is where all the red-blooded youngsters are. And as Randy Sprenger concludes:

“Traffic at corporate websites is trending down,” he explained. “People are no longer going to websites for information. They are using feed readers, Facebook and blogs. “

So, Harley had to be here… Riding on full throttle, ready to over-leap its competitors…

2 Responses to Harley Davidson’s Social Ride on Full Throttle


Kelvin Bruce

July 16th, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Great site and super article. Thanks for putting it up for us, I was wanting somebody to do this


Mary J Cole

July 21st, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I would like to read your newer posts… i have bookmarked you. Hope to see your articles, keep updating

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