3 Things Auto Brands Need To Know About Social Media Marketing

Auto fans can be fickle, unfaithful, fair weather "friends."

Particularly in luxury cars, the average engaged fan -- someone who has liked, shared or commented on content within a 30-day period -- has also engaged with seven other luxury brands that same month. Also, only 15% will come back again next month in luxury. Non-luxury fares better, with the average non-luxury car brand such as Nissan, Ford, or Mazda seeing 1 in 4 engaged people return to interact with content month over month.

So while it can be tempting to focus on "likes," "comments," "shares" and "retweets" when measuring social content, many auto brands must also think about retaining their engaged users month over month, and encouraging them to go deeper with their brand in order to build long-term value.

1. The biggest untapped opportunity lies in video.

Video content is not currently favored for its positive impact on social engagement. In fact, across the automotive category (as across many other verticals), brands struggled to see any impact at all from video posts. Luxury brands posted 10.5% of their content as videos in July, which on average returned 4% of all the likes, shares and comments they received. Similarly, non-luxury brands posted 9% of their content as videos, and saw just 3.5% of all engagement received from video content. Tesla Motors and Toyota were among the few brands that saw strong positive engagement overall from their video content.



However, these top-line observations don’t tell the full story. Fans who interact with video content tend to be more likely to repeat-engage month over month, and are also heavier engagers. For example, users who engaged with video content interacted 45% more frequently across non-luxury car content and 37% more heavily with luxury car brands, and were 55% more likely to share that brand’s content (video or other types of content) than those who had not interacted with video posts.

As micro video content grows, the opportunity to encourage deeper engagement and loyalty via shareable short pieces remains one of the biggest growth opportunities in audience engagement on Facebook.  

2. Luxury and non-luxury fans share content for different reasons.

Photos dominate top posts by shares for top 10 brands for both luxury and non-luxury autos. But this is where the similarity in what makes content shareable for fans ends.

The most frequently shared content for luxury autos places the vehicle at the center of the content. Aspirational beauty shots, highlights of design, form, advanced functionality, and proud histories are all themes that reign across top engaging brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin.

Conversely, the most frequently shared content in non-luxury autos places the owner at the center of the content and leverages "owner pride," often in a fun or playful manner. Volkswagen saw the highest number of shares in content that asked owners to share a "This person drives a Volkswagen" graphic. Smart and Mini saw tremendous engagement with repurposing uploaded fan photos, including an album for Mini of "Mini marriages." Hyundai’s partnership with The Walking Dead for their "build a zombie survival machine" game also caused one Hyundai post to garner nearly 60,000 total actions.

3. Consistent execution, not star content, have the biggest long-term impact on engagement and loyalty.

Brands that favored consistent execution over the course of the month scored higher overall in terms of return rate and unique engaged audience than brands that had fewer posts (even if those posts were purpose-built for sharing).

Luxury and non-luxury car brands with the highest rates of returning users posted 1-2 times a day consistently throughout the month. Their performance -- while typically not centered on any particularly "high-velocity" content -- was achieved via consistent execution, post by post. In addition, these brands received higher rates of actions through posts with videos and posts with links, showcasing more intent to engage across other channels.

For example, 45% of the people who interacted with LandRover in June returned in July. LandRover also over-indexed on actions from both videos and links compared to the luxury category average. Acura, Smart, Mitsubishi, Saab and Fiat are other examples of brands benefiting from this kind of consistent frequency and performance in their Facebook posts.

While it may not yield immediate bragging rights in terms of big, top-line numbers, the brands that will ultimately win the social race are those that are steering away from one-off wonders, and focusing on consistently staying top of mind with their current and would-be customers with an ongoing stream of valuable, relevant content.



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