how twitter (and a green shirt) got me into the NY auto show press preview

There was a time when I told people that I didn’t get twitter. Why are my witty Facebook statuses not enough? And what, really, was the difference?

I attended a conference for work last summer; and after the opening talks, I noticed signs instructing attendees to use the hash tag #SLA2010 when tweeting about the conference. I was curious, (mostly about what librarians tweeted about) so I created an account (@kevinspocket) to see what twitter had to do with a conference full of library professionals. To my surprise… librarians knew very well how to tweet, and party for that matter.

I mostly observed the twitter feed for the few days I was in New Orleans without contributing much; and after attending an excellent conference session solely based on the fact that it was trending on twitter… I finally started to get it.

I quickly found other people to follow; friends, family, and Jeep of course. I was shocked when I got a humbled thank you message from Jeep, after praising them for posting video of CJ commercials from the 80’s. I actually felt inspired that someone, be it a marketing minion intern – or Mike Manley himself, at Jeep cared about what I was saying on twitter.

Who else could I talk to? Would the president respond if I told him he was doing a great job? (he didn’t)

Since a few of my friends own Dodge Ram diesel pickups with the nothing-less-than-awesome Cummins straight 6 cylinder engine… I followed Cummins, and told them they should create a diesel kit for my Wrangler using their 4 cylinder engine. I had a few days worth of witty banter with the author of their twitter handle – who thanked me for my support by sending me a sweet Cummins travel coffee cup and a Cummins Power Badge. (but not a 4bt for the TJ.)

I began following a lot of auto manufacturers, hoping to get a preview of what was in store for the auto industry. During auto show weeks, most of the manufacturer’s twitter accounts were alive with sneak peeks, images of concept vehicles, and statistics for upcoming models. But sadly, once the shows were packed up… most accounts went silent until the next show started to get into gear (pun intended.) Regardless of my loyalty to Jeep – I can honestly say that the Chrysler associated twitter accounts, all of them, were the only ones who continued to post regularly; and so I started to form better twitter-relationships with Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, and most recently their SRT group.

As I began to have more interaction with these groups and others online – I decided to, in a way, brand myself. I had a funny picture that I took of myself wearing a bright green work shirt. I changed my profile picture on facebook, twitter, and any other social media or internet forum I was part of to that picture. I don’t know if it really made a difference, but it was shortly after that – that I received a message on twitter from an auto journalist I had had many conversations with about Jeeps and other new cars hitting the market.

He asked me if I had some time to chat with him on the phone that night about the potential Jeep SRT reveal at the NY auto show. Things were busy at work, so I replied that I might have time that evening to chat. I assumed he was working on a piece to prep for the release and wanted some input or opinions from a Jeep enthusiast. I was pretty excited that I might be quoted in one of his articles; and thought to myself that this might end up being cooler than the Cummins travel mug.

Indeed, sorry Cummins, what was coming was way cooller than a mug… A few DMs later – and I was being placed on a list of 12 people – who were being submitted to the auto show for press credentials. I didn’t know until then – that my twitter friend was now working for the SRT group and considered me an ‘influencer’ of the Jeep brand, and he wanted me to be one of the first to see the new Grand Cherokee SRT8 (even though he could not confirm that it was actually going to be at the show.)

I graciously took two days off of work to attend the press preview in New York City – I was able to witness Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat, and several other OEMs debut their newest offerings – all thanks to twitter, and my green shirt.

I purposely (jokingly) wore the green shirt to the first day of the press preview and was surprised at how many people recognized me… I guess my branding paid off after all.