TTAC to Become a Social Networking Site

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

For over two years, we’ve been telling Detroit to wake-up and smell the homily: everything either grows or dies. We’ve admonished them to adapt and evolve. This they haven’t done. The Truth About Cars (TTAC) will continue to chronicle this slow motion train wreck until the last car derails, and beyond. Meanwhile, we’d be hypocritical if we didn’t follow our own advice. The truth is: we’re not growing. So we’re about to shake things up. Again.

TTAC currently welcomes some 14k unique visitors per day. Our readers hang around for an average of four minutes, viewing an average of 2.63 pages, generating 1m page views per month. Other than a 10 percent increase in the number of new vs. “old” visitors, we’ve been generating the same stats for the last six months. Not to put too fine a point on it, we’ve flat-lined.

Our existing strategy: cater to the Google searchers by emphasizing car reviews while maintaining our base (that’s you) with a side order of editorials and comments. The current layout reflects this two-tier tactic, and we’ve been working hard to make it work.

On the newbie Googlista side, we’ve added TrueDelta’s most excellent shopping data and “stars and snarks” mini-reviews for thesaurus-challenged scanners. We’re also finishing negotiations with a car broker. When complete, the fully-independent broker (gotta maintain those brand values) will kick us back some real money– as opposed to the dribs and drabs of income provided by Google Analytics and AdTags.

On the hard core readers’ side, we’ve been posting one car review and an editorial on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and then two editorials per day otherwise (with some exceptions). In the next couple of weeks, we’re returning to regular podcasts and entering the news blogging arena. We’ll split the difference between Autoblog’s mild-mannered and Jalopnik’s limited slip differential (LSD) approaches, and add some TTAC ‘tude and international coverage.

While I’m delighted to offer these improvements, I realize that they’re minor tweaks to the existing recipe— which, in relative terms, is proving about as popular as chopped liver at a Hawaiian luau. Like GM, small changes to the status quo ain’t gonna cut the mustard. To survive and thrive, TTAC needs a genuine game changer: something insanely great to lift us above the competition (or at least away from it).

Unlike GM, TTAC doesn’t have 421 levels of bureaucracy and the kind of union grievance procedure that makes changing a light bulb a federal offense. So, within the bonds of decency and dollars, we’re free to reinvent ourselves. Ah, but how?

My light bulb moment arrived via an email from an editor/writer with an enormous and well-deserved reputation in the automotive press. After praising the site, he drilled down to what made it unique: you. TTAC’s commentators’ literacy, insight and expertise blew him away.

After nursing my bruised ego, I gave his analysis some serious thought. And of course he’s right. We’re not TTAC. You are. Sure our writers’ in-yer-face prose is stimulating stuff. And yes our Draconian posting policy creates a safe haven for vigorous yet respectful debate. But your comments are what set TTAC apart from all the other automotive websites. We would be an empty shell without you.

And that means YOU are our future. So here’s what we’re going to do…

My team and I are going to turn TTAC into a social networking site. In other words, we’re going to give you a HUGE canvas upon which to paint. An ENORMOUS theme park in which to play. And it will be YOUR intellectual playground to build and explore. TTAC’s writers will still provide reviews, editorials and news. With your help, Frank and I will continue to turf out the flamers and trolls without fear or favor. But YOU will be in charge of TTAC’s destiny.

The new site will have user groups, forums, user generated blogs, live chat, webinars and webcasts, podcasts, event calendars, picture sharing, video sharing and who knows what else. Well, actually, Frank and I do. But for competitive reasons, we’re not specifying the platform or listing all the features. And anyway, it will evolve.

We’re building the foundations now. When we get closer to launch, in a month or less, I’ll invite you, our faithful subscribers, to wander around in the Beta version and claim your own piece of turf. I’ll ask you to tell us what does and doesn’t work.

TTAC will do everything in its power to make the new site the best place for automotive enthusiasts to gather on the entire World Wide Web. And keep it that way. Meanwhile, if you can give me some feedback on social networking sites you use— or hate— I’d be most appreciative.

They say the truth shall set you free. What the Hell; let’s give it a try.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Seths Seths on Jul 10, 2007

    Hey Robert, Great to meet you and your daughter yesterday. Cool site! Hope to catch you around Prov. sometime soon. Cheers, Seth

  • Dynamic88 Dynamic88 on Jul 14, 2007

    "idea for reducing bad behavior on forums: force people to sign in with their real names." Good idea. - John Smith.

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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
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