LAS VEGAS Investment in high-quality digital and social media content is key to changing customer perceptions of a brand, as well as in raising brand awareness and consideration levels, according to industry experts at the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Internet Roundtable.

Creating engaging digital content that demonstrates the value of a brand is critical to telling the brand’s story and shifting consumer perception.

“At Ford, we have invested heavily in social media and organic marketing and we are achieving unprecedented levels of consideration,” said Jim Farley, group vice president of marketing and communications at Ford Motor Company and a keynote speaker at the conference. “Approximately 25 percent of Ford’s global media buy is digital, and it is the richness of the digital experience that makes a big difference.”

By integrating user-generated content and capturing “real-world” consumer opinions, marketers can improve their brand’s credibility among consumers. Strong digital content often spurs discussion among social media users, which can achieve a widely expansive reach among the target audience.

“The customer’s voice provides content that customers can talk to other people about,” said Farley. “Customers share their personal experiences with the brand, which is then able to be shared on social media sites. It creates a dialog between companies and consumers. For marketers, social media is about getting unique and creative content in the hands of the customers and letting them amplify it.”

According to Farley, Ford has successfully relied on digital and social media to build on the brand’s global reputation for small, fuel-efficient vehicles — such as the Ford Fiesta — and to revitalize perceptions of existing vehicle models, as well as to elevate its overall brand image. For example, a video focusing on the paint quality of the Ford Taurus has been particularly effective in conveying the high overall vehicle quality of this all-new model.

The 2009 Automotive Internet Roundtable is the most highly attended J.D. Power and Associates conference since the event was first initiated in 1984, with nearly 900 automotive dealers and industry professionals registered.