Facebook is the home of family photos, lighthearted chat -- and serious brand-building by automakers.
Take Ford Motor Co. Ford launched its redesigned 2011 Explorer crossover on Facebook in 2010 instead of at a traditional auto show, in part to engage Facebook's huge audience.
Ford also created a smartphone app for the 2013 Mustang that enables viewers to configure virtual cars and share them with Facebook friends.
For automakers, it's all about creating and engaging a community of consumers with contests, photos, video and other activities. The goal is not immediate sales. Rather, it's about feeling good about a brand and its vehicles.
Fiat has more than 500,000 "likes" among Facebook users. Fiat is offering $500 coupons for its 500 subcompact to those users, says Casey Hurbis, head of Fiat brand advertising and communications.
As part of the campaign, Fiat also is giving away 10 cars.
Duncan Scarry, CEO of Haystak Digital Marketing, an auto marketing company, says: "Facebook is the most visited site on the Internet. It is a natural place for the OEMs to promote customer interaction with their brands."
Scarry said that won't change because of General Motors' decision last week to pull its $10 million in annual Facebook paid advertising. That includes ad buttons on the right-hand side of Facebook pages and sponsored stories on various topics.