Normally, when an automaker brings a new car to the market, it invites automotive journalists to get behind the wheel to put the car through its paces and render their professional opinion on how the car drives, feels and performs.
But as part of the launch of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet is choosing to supplement the opinions of professional journalists with an entire new breed of test-drivers. It\’s looking to influential bloggers, Twitterati and other online socialites.
Using Klout, an online service that examines and rates how influential a person is amongst virtual friends and followers, Chevrolet will invite 139 people with a “Klout score” of more than 35 to try its 2012 Sonic for three days, and then write about their experiences online.
In other words, you’ll soon see more reviews of the 2012 Sonic from regular drivers — not just automotive journalists — giving you more information to help you make your purchase decision.
This isn’t the first time Chevrolet has partnered with Klout, either. Earlier this year, the two firms paired up to offer influential Klout members the chance to test-drive the 2012 Chevrolet Volt.
2012 Chevrolet Sonic, New York City launch event, October 2011
For Chevrolet, using Klout to expose bloggers to the 2012 Sonic is a logical step. After all, the Sonic target market — young, college graduates who are looking for their first new car — are more likely to respond to advertising and reviews distributed through social media than previous generations.
It’s also a proven model. In 2009, Ford used social-media sites and an exclusively digital ad campaign to promote the 2010 Ford Fiesta. Thanks to clever planning and an engaged audience, more than 100 online bloggers in the \”Fiesta Movement\” test-drove the Fiesta and spread their experiences–mostly positive, surprise–all over the web.
But as Automotive News’ Stephen Williams points out, while the publicity from an influential online blogger can be invaluable, anyone who receives the perk of a three-day car loan must disclose that fact to stay within Federal Trade Commission guidelines on online reviews.
2012 Chevrolet Sonic 4-door Sedan 1LT Instrument Cluster
In other words, bloggers who take part should be prepared to disclose any perks they’ve been given to write the review, just as any professional journalist should. (GreenCarReports notes at the end of each story anything of value the automaker has provided–meals, lodging, airfare–to enable us to bring you our first-person drive reports.)
We’ve already given our own opinions on both the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback and 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Sedan, so be sure to use our own carefully considered judgments as part of your online research.
Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.