Chicago Auto Show Finds Facebook Friends

Old industry learns new tricks

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 16: A model poses next to the Audi E-Tron concept car at the international motor show IAA on September 16, 2009 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.The world's biggest auto show runs until September 27. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

    It may be huge and smell faintly like gasoline, but the Chicago Auto Show wants to be your friend. For the first time the annual auto extravaganza is using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to get its message out.

    “[Facebook is] a great interactive site,” says Mark Bilek who handles the Internet for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. With more than 1800 friends to its credit, the Facebook page offers insights on the show along with more than 70 videos and over 200 fan photos.

    Bilek says the car companies are catching on to the social networking trend. He says Chicagoland Toyota Dealers are giving away a Prius during the show. “What’s really interesting,” he says, “is that you can’t go anywhere and register, you have to use their Facebook page.” Bilek describes how to do that in his auto show blog.

    The ChicagoAutoShow.com site is also chocked full of interactive features to appeal to an online generation. After the show opens, you will be able to take control of a handful of webcams, steer them around and zoom in whatever, or whoever, you want. “You can call a friend, Bilek suggests, “tell them you are at the show and have them find you with the camera and email you a picture.”

    There will also be a “web walk” of the show that will resemble a Google StreetView of every exhibit.

    Despite the economy, organizers say they are enthusiastic about this year’s Chicago Auto Show. “We are still in two halls, Bilek says, “we’ve still got the manufacturers.” “If you go down to the floor right now,” he says “four days before the show, you’d see three four, five hundred cars already…you will see things no one else has seen before.”

    The Chicago Auto Show opens to the public February 12th and runs through the 21st. NBC 5 is an official sponsor of the show and will broadcast a live, hour-long Auto Show Special at 6pm on Saturday, February 13th. Telemundo Chicago will air its Auto Show Special at 5pm the following Sunday.

    You can buy tickets for the Auto Show online at DriveChicago.com.