TÜV Rheinland – using social media to reach out to car tuners

January 16th, 2009 | by Klaus Holzapfel |

tuv_screnshot-topI’d like to share some background information on a social media project we  are currently working on.

The purpose is not so much to toot our own horn but to give you something you might be able to take to your clients or even implement yourself.

It might be worth reading on unless you constantly run social media campaigns yourself that are leaving your customer and their clients 100% satisfied.

One of our long-standing clients is the TÜV Rheinland. They provide technical certifications for a vast array of technical devices and operate in over 60 countries.

They are also responsible for the technical inspections for cars in Germany. Germany has very demanding security standards for cars. Cars are being inspected thoroughly every 1 or 2 years. Any modifications to a car in Germany can very quickly render it illegal to drive.

Therefore the car tuning freaks and the TÜV traditionally have a rather “challenging” relationship.

We created a portal for tuning fans in php/mysql 2 years ago that lets users upload images and add info about their cars. The TÜV ran a couple of sweepstakes on this platform. The platform didn’t have much social media appeal and it was time to shift into higher gear.


We decided to focus in 4 major platforms instead of wasting our efforts and loose focus by being present every where:
:: Facebook
:: Twitter
:: Flickr
:: YouTube

YouTube and Flickr are widely known in Germany and have a pretty decent userbase. Friendfeed is our tool to create feeds that we embed on other sites.

Twitter is still an very early adopter tool. BMW ran a campaign for its upcoming X1 with a lot of power by an Austrian agency behind it. They had 72 followers on Twitter after 2 weeks and it was considered a huge success – that gives you an idea about the numbers on Twitter in Germany.

As for Facebook:
StudiVZ is a clone of an earlier version of Facebook – without all the widgets and plugins and apps of the latest Facebook version. It is still the #1 social media site in Germany. We decided to focus on Facebook and build a fan page because we strongly believe that this is where the momentum will shift to. We like the advanced opportunies of Facebook fan pages and this was a good way to show them to a broader audience.


We started with selecting a name to brand the program. “TÜV” wasn’t very appealing.

Our name had to connect with the audience: Leg Mich Tiefer could be translated as “lower my ride”. It was a bit edgy and fortunately the TÜV approved of our suggestion.

We created a logo and a background and applied it to all our platforms so the visitors could easily recognize them as part of the overall campaign (see the screenshots below).

Since we didn’t have any videos to start with, we favored other videos that would be of interest for our audience.

We had a few thousand tuning car images in our database and used the best ones to load our Flickr account with quality content.

We started to follow car blogs in the US on Twitter and translated the best news into German.

Using Friendfeed we embedded the feeds (Twitter, Flickr, YouTube) into TÜV Tuning Portal itself.

We used widgets to automatically plug in all the content automatically into our Facebook Fan Page.

After the groundwork was done we visited EMS – the largest car tuning show in Europe – and created more content (videos and images).


  1. The client is  very pleased in how well we reach their target audience. It exceeded their expectations.
  2. We received many messages from Tuning Fans among these lines:
    “Cool! We would have never thought that the TÜV would ever do something likes this”
  3. We also caught many bloggers and the press by surprise. This is a showcase of targeted cross-platform social media use – done by the government?
  4. The employees of the TÜV itself also feel very positive about the new online presence. Employees will be introduced and get trained on the use of social media.

The total numbers of followers on the social media platforms is still very low by US standards.

But this is the beginning of a long lasting effort. There was no intension of artificially inflating the numbers – We could have easily done that.

Of course we have our ideas on how to take the next steps and are working on a long-term concept together with the client.

We just applied some basics of social media to this:

  • Being authentic
    We never made a secret out of the fact that we (as in conceptbakery) are running this for the TÜV. A good part of our team is into cars (including me). So we didn’t need to “transform” ourselves when we were talking to enthusiasts.
  • Knowing & respecting the audience
    We know the “language” of each platform we worked on. We developed relationships with our audience and made clear that we are in it for the long haul – nobody every felt that we are just using them for some short term results.
  • Making sense
    There is an strong underlying purpose of the relationships we are building. The TÜV is making a sincere effort to reach out and become partners with the tuning community. We are merely facilitating this process.
  • Not being afraid
    Our client was not afraid to take the plunge.

Underneath are some screenshots of some of the pages we built…

Leg Mich Tiefer - Face Book Fan Page

Leg Mich Tiefer - Face Book Fan Page

Leg Mich Tiefer - Twitter Page

Leg Mich Tiefer - Twitter Page

Leg Mich Tiefer - YouTube Channel

Leg Mich Tiefer - YouTube Channel

Please let me know what your thoughts are. If you have aby questions I’ll be glad to answer them. There isn’t too much secrecy to this – just a bit of common sense and some nitty gritty work ;-)

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  1. 4 Responses to “TÜV Rheinland – using social media to reach out to car tuners”

  2. By rashin on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Amazing how you're using social media to reach out to audiences "outside the box". Your clients are very lucky!!

  3. By Dave Taylor on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    Having a coherent vision of how all the pieces can fit together marks your campaign as an unusual one in an era when the experts generally see each of these social media sites as standalone universes.

  4. By Klaus_Holzapfel on Jan 16, 2009 | Reply

    You know it is all tied together. But in many cases I have seen there is just a ton of redundancy – the same post gets blasted over dozens of platforms and flies into a users face again and again. We tried to minimalize that.

    Our multi-platform strategy led us to reach out into different communities:
    I.e. there are car enthusiasts on Flickr and on YouTube – but they are two different crowds.

    Generally the overall results are better if you meet people at the platform of their choice. Instead of asking them to join another site.

  5. By Bernd Nurnberger on Oct 3, 2009 | Reply

    Great piece of work. Thanks for the summary. How about an update of your success story?
    Fact-check: The roadworthiness inspection in Germany for personal vehicles is mandated first after 3 years then every 2 years. Commercial vehicles every year.
    Disclosure: I work for TUV Rheinland. This is a private citizen comment.

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