Kristen Hammond writes about her two young sons and sells T-shirts on her Web log, "Mommy Needs A Cocktail." She isn't anyone's idea of a gearhead.
But last fall, Chevrolet flew Hammond from her home near Washington to Memphis, Tenn., so she could test drive the redesigned 2008 Malibu. Chevrolet hoped she would blog about the trip, bringing the car to the attention of Generation X mothers like herself.
"General Motors understands we are living in a world where social media are extremely important," says Hammond, whose blog attracts 5,000 unique visitors a month. "They knew I could represent a demographic they were interested in. This was a way for them to open up their audience."
Hammond, who drives a 2001 Volvo S80, says the trip gave her "a totally different view" of GM, especially on environmental matters. In a post on her blog, she called the Malibu Hybrid "an affordable hybrid that isn't a Pious" — a dig at the segment-leading Toyota Prius.
As the reach of print advertising and broadcast commercials declines, GM is working with hundreds of bloggers to tout its vehicles to targeted consumers. GM has its own high-profile blogger: Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who writes an outspoken blog called "FastLane."
Other automakers, notably Ford and Volkswagen, are cultivating bloggers. But GM has penetrated the blogosphere more deeply than most other factories. GM declines to say what it spends on its blogging operation.