BMW’s Social-Media Technology Push Sparks Backlash
Enthusiast fans of the brand would rather see videos highlighting BMW’s performance prowess than tech features.
Almost all automakers are heavily promoting technology such as connectivity and other slick in-cabin features because tech-obsessed consumers want these in their cars. Many people consider their car simply as transportation and want as many features onboard as possible to make their commute more comfortable. However, a small but vocal minority of enthusiasts typically resists anything that distracts from an undiluted driving experience. To them, time behind the wheel is sacred and shouldn’t be sullied by a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles.
While BMW has built its reputation as the “Ultimate Driving Machine,” lately the brand also has been a pioneer among luxury automakers and especially its German peers in adopting the latest connected-car technology. Its wide-ranging ConnectedDrive technology platform incorporates everything from driver-assist systems to in-dash access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
BMW is promoting ConnectedDrive features via its Facebook page and YouTube channel. But according to the website WaveMetrix, which tracks trends in social media with an emphasis on how brands and people interact online, BMW is facing a backlash from enthusiast fans of the brand because of videos posted on these social networks that focus on tech features rather than performance prowess.
Several videos that highlight the features of BMW ConnectedDrive have been posted on both social-media outlets. The clever spots are as entertaining as they are informative; one features a male teen who makes a faux pas while picking up his date in a BMW equipped with a rear-view camera. But WaveMetrix says that BMW aficionados who “are accustomed to a different type of content, such as slinky new car designs, performance tests and racing news,” are alienated by the brand’s promotion of ConnectedDrive features.
The website says its analysis “shows that consumer engagement with the videos on both Facebook and YouTube is mostly negative, suggesting that BMW’s fan pages may not be the best place to promote these features, as the content is misaligned with the expectations of BMW fans.” It says this shows that “brands need to be cautious when stepping aside from their core message as Facebook and Twitter followers tend to be the brand's most hard-core fans.”
WaveMetrix found that while 31 percent of BMW’s Facebook fans think ConnectedDrive is a “great concept” and a “cool innovation” and find the videos funny, 69 percent are negative toward the technology. It also said that BMW Facebook fans think that technology “takes over the joy of driving” and that they don’t like the car “doing everything” for them. WaveMetrix also said that 74 percent of comments on BMW’s YouTube videos are negative and say they “don’t need all these features” in their cars.
I certainly like to drive for pleasure and also consider myself a tech geek, so I see both sides. While I can understand enthusiasts’ Luddite-like reaction to the creep of technology into the cabin, they’re forgetting that most of these features aren’t designed for them but the majority of average daily commuters.
BMW still makes some of the best-performing vehicles available, and these enthusiasts seem to forget that they don’t have to use these tech features if they don’t want to. And they also forget that you can’t stop technology.
Doug Newcomb has been covering car technology for more than 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and car technology, especially driving and listening to music.
"BMW still makes some of the best-performing vehicles available, and these enthusiasts seem to forget that they don’t have to use these tech features if they don’t want to. "
True, but we are having it rammed down our throats by having to pay for them regardless if we want it or not.
Correct! I am in a car to DRIVE and ENJOY IT, not to vegetate like a plant.
It was Antoine de Saint-Exupery who said:
"perfection is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
I do not want to pay for all the complex electronics which have the potential to distract me - I do not need it, and I most certainly do not want something which increases complexity and statistical probability of malfunction!
"BMW still makes some of the best-performing vehicles available, and these enthusiasts seem to forget that they don’t have to use these tech features if they don’t want to."
...Which is why I can never fully override my vehicle's safety systems, is it? Or why the computer program running the show always has the last say? Or why I do not have a mechanical throttle any more, so my car conks out when the program does not react fast enough to the pedal input? Or why these "consumers" will cause accidents as they are flipping through myriad of features instead of driving? Or why so many of them are already distracted drivers?
If you want technology, do it at home. A car is not a place for simpletons' excesses and their trivial pleasures; use of technology in cars must be balanced with utmost care and the notion of simplicity. Complexity must be scrutinized and refused at every turn and opportunity.
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