Automaker in social media #fail

Automakers are embracing social media like never before, taking to Facebook, Twitter and other tools in droves to connect with the customers of tomorrow - but this week one brand proved that it's not always so easy.

Chrysler was forced to apologize for an "inappropriate tweet" from its main @ChryslerAutos account March 9 after an employee of a contractor swore to the automaker's 7,500 followers.

The tweet, which read "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive" according to retweets, was rapidly deleted, but not before spreading across the Twittersphere.

Chrysler quickly said that its account had been compromised and later explained that it had come from its new media agency, which terminated an employee over the incident.

Although Chrysler seems to have gained more followers as a result of the mishap, it highlights the danger of automakers using such direct forms of communication with customers, which they are doing in ever-increasing numbers.

It has led to some undoubted successes, such as Audi's use of the hashtag #Progressls during this year's Superbowl advert and Ford's "Fiesta Movement" campaign, both of which helped catapult the automakers' message into the public domain.

This week, Chevrolet has equipped ten vehicles from across North America with in-car tweeting equipment and sent them on a roadtrip to the South by Southwest festival as part of a campaign to showcase its new infotainment systems.

Predictably though, there have also been some high profile failures, including Toyota Australia's first foray into social media which ended with it pulling a controversial advert for the Yaris which was created as part of a competition.

There were also red faces at Honda after it posted photos of its Crosstour on Facebook and a senior manager at the firm was identified leaving positive messages in an attempt to counter criticism - ironically enough, by users finding his LinkedIn profile online.

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