How to Use Customer Advocacy on Social Media to Drive Sales.

Project Description

The Client

Toyota is the world’s most valuable car brand.  In 2016, Toyota also became the world’s largest producer of automobiles. This case study pertains to Toyota in British Columbia, Canada (i.e. Toyota BC).
Toyota Logo


In 2015, Elevator Strategy (Agency of Record for Toyota BC) launched regional retail campaign “Owner Approved” featuring real Toyota owners on traditional media (TV, radio etc.). However, there was modest engagement from Toyota owners on social media.

As we know, in the “digital age”, brands are not what your tell the consumer; brands are what consumers tell each other.

In order to grow customer engagement, I developed an integrated social media campaign focused on customer advocacy and user generated content (UGC).


This “always on” campaign was based on the following key insights, which demonstrated the path to acquisition through advocacy.

  • Friends and Family are the key drivers in the car buyer journey (source: McKinsey)
  • 38% of Consumers report they will consult social media the next time they purchase a car (source: CMO Report)
  • 54% of millennials say they use user generated content (UGC) to inform their car purchase decisions (source: Crowd Tap)

Toyota BC Advocacy


Building on the above insights, the strategy was as follows:

social advocacy Toyota BC

  1. Find existing Toyota owners through extensive listening and monitoring, contesting, and other tactics
  2. Build relationships through regular conversations, one interaction at a time
  3. Turn owners into advocates, and encourage them to share their adventures featuring their vehicle
  4. Recognize and reward advocates through the Toyota BC channels (e.g. Instagram feature), and unexpected gifts (e.g. Gas Cards)
  5. Measure advocacy efforts through channel engagement and the user of advocacy hashtag #OwnerApproved 

The hashtag #OwnerApproved was used as the main engagement hashtag and measurement mechanism.



Every month, hundreds of Toyota owners share their adventures with the hashtag #OwnerApproved on Twitter and Instagram. We intercept these messages in a timely manner, and use as an opportunity to build relationships, one interaction at a time.

Example of #OwnerApproved UGC from new Toyota owners

Example of #OwnerApproved UGC from new Toyota owner


Since the inception of #OwnerApproved and integration with social efforts, Toyota BC has grown in engagement, sales, and market share.

Every month, we generate up to 1M earned #OwnerApproved impressions from proud Toyota owners in BC.


OwnerApproved Results Instagram


While social works in tandem with other efforts, here are some key sales figures since the inception of this social advocacy strategy:

  • 13% retail sales increase for 2016 – #1 zone in Canada
  • 1.6% increase in market share (BC); remainder of segment remained flat
  • 60 Million Dollars = value of market share point in BC

Toyota BC experienced a 13% sales increase in 2016, and 1.6% increase in market share (BC). In 2016, Toyota BC became the #1 zone in Canada.


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