Without a doubt, India is credited for driving the fortunes of car brands around the world. As the upwardly mobile population convert their two wheels for four, India is adding well over 7,000 cars to the road network every single day and that number is only going to grow.
There are around 20 auto manufactures selling cars in India and they all have a presence on Facebook. A number have a presence on Twitter, a few have even forayed in to YouTube but none have looked in to adding Pinterest to their social media strategy. This compares to their US counterparts, which are rushing to create a presence even on niche sites like Tumblr and Instagram.
So first things first, which auto manufacturer in India is doing the best job on social media? To answer the question, we took the Unmetric Scores of all the brands for the month of September. The Unmetric Score looks at all the important metrics and balances and weights them to produce a single benchmarkable score. The score is updated each month, so month on month, brands can figure out how well their social media is performing vis-a-vis their competitors and sector.
The chart below shows that Audi, one of the newest entrants to the Indian market, is doing the best job on Facebook. Their mix of content, high fan growth and numerous other factors contribute to their Unmetric Score of 53. Tata Motors came in a surprising second place, although this was mostly driven by the fantastic job their Nano social media team is doing. Infact, the Tata Nano page scored the best with an Unmetric Score of 57, but the performance of Tata Motor's other pages pulled their overall score down.
Speaking of car sales, we looked at the annual sales of all the manufacturers to understand how that compared to Facebook fan numbers and fan growth. The most stunning insight is that the premium German brands, despite commanding barely 0.8% market share, have over 3,000,000 fans between them. In other words, they have 126 fans for every sale they made in the last twelve months. Compare this to a company like Mahindra & Mahindra which, thanks to its extremely popular SUVs & MUVs, has over 4,100,000 fans, but just 17 fans for every sale they made in the last 12 months.
Tata Motors is the number one growing manufacturer on Facebook thanks to its Aria and Nano models. The Tata Aria page clocked in a staggering 169% growth during Q3, almost all of which came in September. Surprisingly, Mercedes, which has half the number of fans of Audi and BMW at 600,000, couldn't keep up with their peers and clocked a meager 3% growth. However, it should be noted that in Q2 2012, Mercedes did register a fan growth of 81%, so it's unclear what exactly caused such low growth in Q3 2012.
Mitsubishi seems to have near cult like status among Indian customers. They've got barely more fans than they have annual sales, suggesting that one has to be a real enthusiast to buy a Mitsubishi car.
Fans and growth is one thing, but to borrow a phrase, it's how you use it that counts. Unmetric calculates the fan engagement on Facebook by looking at the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions. Based on that, a score is calculated for each admin post and averaged together to give an overall Engagement Score.
Fan engagement is where the international brands have a clear superiority over the Indian car brands. With Audi streaking ahead, no other brand is able to compete in terms of engaging their fans. Mitsubishi reinforces its cult like brand by having incredible levels of engagement compared to the number of Facebook fans. They might not have many Likes, but the fans are highly engaged with the brand, pushing it in to second place.
The top 5 places are all held by international brands (three of them from German). Tata Motors performs the best from the Indian manufacturers, once again thanks to the Tata Nano page. Bizarrely, the American car brands, Ford and Chevrolet, don't even feature in the top 10 and score just 24 and 22 respectively - well below the region average of 104. Despite healthy sales and interesting marketing campaigns, particularly from Ford, the fans don't seem to be as excited about the brands compared to other brands.
Part of the reason behind the success of the European brands to connect with their fans is the content strategy.
Unmetric places all Facebook posts in to four categories: About the Brand, About the Sector, About Current Events and Other. In the chart below, we looked at what exactly the brands talk about when they talk about themselves and how it engages with their fans. Some content works better than others, and even some content types that works for one sector might not work for another sector.
For the auto brands in India, they mostly talked about news related to the brand, and this was the third most engaging piece of content. When they talked about promotions, the fan engagement took a nosedive, suggesting that the promotions didn't do enough to strike a chord. Talking about Ad Campaigns were equally unengaging, suggesting that on Facebook at least, they are failing to excite the fans.
Now, when the brands talked about new vehicle launches, the fans went almost in to a frenzy. Many car brands posted albums to showcase their new models, and these photos were collectively Liked, Commented and Shared by a huge proportion of fans. The more Shares a piece of content can get, the further the reach, not to mention it is a personal endorsement and recommendation of the brand by a person.
Customer service is one area where any business can distinguish themselves, particularly in a competitive sector like automobiles where technical specs can match up and people seek out robust after sales support. In that respect, Unmetric looks at how quickly brands reply to fans on Facebook, an indication of how much resources (or care) is allocated to building the community and addressing customer issues.
Tata Motors, or more specifically Tata Nano, proves itself to be the more caring of brands, responding to a respectable 38% of fan posts during Q3 2012. The social media team has an active strategy in place to reply to fans and build a community because not only did they reply to the most fans, they replied the quickest out of all the car brands in India. Most brands replied to less than 10% of fan posts and in a time that doesn't come close to being useful, suggesting that providing customer service or building a community hasn't been fully strategized yet.
That said, when you are set far from the maddening crowd, maybe you can afford to be a little less responsive. The BMW India page doesn't allow fans to post on their Timeline, but perhaps the brand is so desirable, it doesn't need to forge relationships and build a community on Facebook.
The car market in India is yet to see the kinds of sales figures seen in developed markets like North America and Europe, but it's not going to remain that way for long. One thing that was discovered throughout this analysis was that the average fan was a young, single male. Compare that to the North American car pages where the gender split is around 60/40 male, mostly in their 20's and 30's and married.
Although I don't believe that there are many 19 year olds owning and driving around in a BMW or Audi (at least, for the sake of my own feeling of self worth, I really hope not!), who knows, 10 to 15 years down the line, they might be the exact person these premium luxury brands are targeting.
As this demographic grows older and pours in to the job market, the car brand that engaged these people the best and created the most affordable desirability is bound to succeed. In that respect, Tata Nano is doing a grand job of getting their target market interested in and engaged with the brand.
All the data has been presented in this rather resplendent infographic below. Click on the image to see the full sized version. You are more than welcome to pass around and republish the infographic on your own site, just keep the credit intact on the image and if you are feeling particularly generous, a link back to this blog would be appreciated!
The Unmetric platform was used to gather the data. Data was taken between July and September 2012. The Engagement Scores are calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Impressions a post receives. The Unmetric Score is a scientific blend of various quantitative and qualitative measurements, weighted and balanced to produce a single unifying score that accurately represents the social media efforts of big brands around the world.
In many cases, car brands in India had multiple Facebook pages for their various models. When this was the case, weighted averages were taken from all the available pages.
All data has been compiled and analyzed from the Unmetric application which tracks dozens of metrics to enable brands to benchmark themselves against competitors and their industry sector. Gain access to all this data by claiming a 10 day free trial.
You are free to reproduce the infographic in its entirety provided that full credit remains with Unmetric, the Unmetric logo and methodology is included and the work is fully attributed to Unmetric.