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DETROIT — Starting on Friday, Chevrolet executives plan to launch three social-media applications at South by Southwest, a well-known interactive music and film conference and festival in Austin, Texas.

They hope the strategy serves as a way to introduce more than 185,000 attendees to vehicles like the Camaro, Volt and Cruze.

Brand executives also believe the initiative can help them learn what attendees feel are the best practices and emerging technologies in social media.

"Social media is a powerful tool in a digital world where people can get news instantly on their smartphone, watch television shows on streaming video, and communicate with friends on social-networking sites," explained Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's general manager.

"For Chevrolet, South by Southwest provides an invaluable opportunity to learn how best to communicate with customers in by leveraging these technologies," Campbell continued.

Accordingly, Chevrolet rolled out several strategic points it plans to utilize regarding integrating technologies and events at South by Southwest. Executives want to create opportunities to talk with and learn from attendees.

—For location-based social networking, Chevrolet has partnered with Austin-based Gowalla. From their smartphones, Gowalla users can "check in" to let friends and followers know where they are at a given moment.

When Gowalla users check in at locations throughout Austin, brand executives indicated they will receive a messages and South by Southwest offers from Chevrolet.

"For example, a select number who 'check in' at Austin airport will also receive a message that reads: ‘Welcome and Congratulations: Chevy is here for SXSW, and we want to offer you a free ride in a new Equinox if you're going downtown. Just show this message to the person holding the Chevy @ SXSW sign in baggage claim, and leave the rest to us,'" Chevrolet officials explained.

—Brand executives also plan to use Quick Response (QR) codes to introduce attendees to the key features of vehicles including the Camaro, Volt and Cruze. When photographed using a camera phone, the QR codes can launch a dedicated microsite with key features of the vehicle.

"For example, a QR code on the hood will take attendees to a micro-site to learn more about the 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine in the Cruze, which is expected to deliver class-leading 40 miles per gallon," Chevrolet executives highlighted.

—For augmented reality, brand executives contend that Chevrolet is one of the first companies to use the emerging technology in a mobile application. Users who download the Chevrolet iReveal application — now available in Beta form — can access three-dimensional models of Chevrolet vehicles.

Chevrolet believes the application can provide key specifics of the vehicles, and insert the virtual image of the unit over the actual streetscape viewed through the smart phone camera lens.

"The potential of these technologies is incredible," noted Christopher Barger, director of global communications and technology for General Motor.

"Imagine using Quick Response Codes to download the price and options for a vehicle on a dealer lot right to your cell phone. Or, imagine using augmented reality to virtually preview different colors of the Camaro in your own driveway," Barger went on to say.

"We are just scratching the surface of what's possible with mobile technologies and social media applications," he added.

Furthermore, Chevrolet officials listed several other South by Southwest activities they have planned for the event that runs through March 21.

—Chevrolet is providing vehicles for eight teams participating in a road rally dubbed the "See the USA in your Chevrolet: A SXSW Road Trip." Teams can drive to Austin from as far away as New York and San Diego, competing to complete missions selected by followers on Twitter. The teams can use technologies ranging from OnStar to Facebook to track and report their progress in the race in real time.

—As part of multiple, interactive Chevrolet displays in Austin, officials said the Chevrolet Volt Recharging Station can help South by Southwest attendees to stay connected with more than 100 electrical ports for recharging cell phones, net books and cameras.

—Chevrolet officials also plan to make a fleet of vehicles, including Camaro, Equinox, Malibu and Traverse, available for conference attendees.

"Chevrolets will provide transportation to and from the highest trafficked locations in downtown Austin," brand officials indicated. "In addition, Chevrolet will offer rides to exclusive events, such as a drive to Salt Lick BBQ, a South by Southwest institution outside of Austin."

Shawn O'Keefe shared his opinion about what Chevrolet is undertaking. O'Keefe is the South by Southwest interactive festival producer.

"We're very excited that Chevrolet is part of South by Southwest 2010," O'Keefe pointed out.

"It's great to see Chevrolet showcase how they are using emerging technologies to make their product experience better and more sustainable," he went on to say.

"With all the creative and amazing activities planned for our attendees, Chevrolet is truly connecting and building relationships with the SXSW community here in Austin and abroad," O'Keefe concluded.