I don’t get cars. Every time I have to describe what is so spectacular about a car surrounded by a whirl of dust, I turn to my colleagues. They helpfully supply terms like GTR, AMG, ABS, RPM, launch control, before swooning over the picture.
In a quest to understand why automobile brands get so much engagement on social media, I analyzed the performance of five Australian auto brands. I looked at how Honda Australia, Toyota Australia, Fiat Australia, Ford Australia and Hyundai Australia did on Facebook during the period spanning October 1 – December 31, 2016.
Before we jump into declaring a winner among the five, here are some of the industry-wide trends that I noticed:
The most common type of content is photos. This makes up 65% of all Posts.
The percentage of video content is on the rise. Compared to the previous year, there is an increase of 3%
These auto brands are more likely to Post on a Friday than any other day. They also get most engagement on Fridays.
Let us now take a closer look at how these brands fare on various engagement markers:
Toyota Australia had the lead in the number of Posts published during the three month period. They put out 68 Posts. Honda Australia had the least number of Posts, with just 30 Posts.
Brands have to hit the right balance between oversharing and being buried unnoticeably under the flood of content published on social media. By taking a look at the engagement that these brands received, let us see if there is an optimal volume of brand posts for this sector.
The chart below shows the average number of Likes, Comments and Shares that each of these brands received:
You can see that Ford Australia got the most number of Likes, Comments and Shares per Post. They also had the most number of Likes, Comments and Shares.
Does Ford’s lead have anything to do with their Fan count? Is it the larger a brand’s audience, the better engagement they get?
While this may explain the low levels of engagement that Fiat gets, audience size does not explain the engagement that Honda and Ford receive. These brands have a considerably smaller Fan size than Toyota and Hyundai, they still get more engagement.
Often, it is not audience size that matters as much as Reach. The increasing importance of promoted content is indicative of that. Brands no longer buy Fans; they pay for better Reach.
Let us look at the total Reach that these brands received on average:
The standout engagement that Ford gets has to be, at least to some extent, an effect of the reach that they get. It is also important to note that Ford gets significantly greater estimated reach than Toyota, even though the latter has over a 100,000 Fans more than the former. Take a look at the share of content that these brands promoted:
Unsurprisingly, Ford had the most amount of promoted content. Of their 57 Posts, 43 were promoted. Aside from Reach, promotion also has an impact on engagement.
In the chart below, you can see the percentage of Posts that were promoted by a brand and the resulting increase in engagement:
As you can see from the chart, even though Ford Australia promoted the most, the Toyota gained the most in terms of engagement. Fiat promoted zero content. From this, it is impossible to conclude that promoted content is the key to excelling on social media.
Let us take a closer look at some of the top content put out by these brands:
The brands included here put out a variety of content, which makes it almost impossible to make any generalizations. Brands used various formats and narrative angles to convey what they wanted to be known for.
The video below is the most engaging piece of content published by Ford:
It was also the most shared Post among the ones published by brands in the group. Based on data, you can conclude that video content is extremely popular with fans. However, this does not mean that all brands need to do is share video advertisements that they create for broadcast elsewhere. Innovative uses of the video format, like the one above, wins engagement.
If you look at the average number of shares that a link, a photo and a video receive, video trumps with 218 shares. Photos and links get only 31 and 25 shares respectively, on average. Even if you were to discount the obvious outlier that we discussed above, the value would go down only to 140, which is still miles away from 30.
Another popular Post by Ford had the lead in the number of Comments (1,470). While you would think that it is a run-of-the-mill contest, which gives people reason to comment on it, a closer look at the comments would reveal something interesting. The social media manager has replied to every comment, as they should as a brand that aspires to a lively social media presence. It is the interactions between Fans in the comments that is even more great. They share their experiences as proud owners of Ford. Such conversations elevate their Facebook page from a mere brand page to a forum for Ford owners to interact. This will give them reasons to keep track of discussions on the page.
They ensure that the budgets that they have for content creation do not go to waste by promoting a good chunk of their content, as you can see in the chart below.
Most of Honda’s content focused on their supercar, NSX. Check out the following Post by Honda which had the most number of Likes among the group:
The brand’s idea of wrapping up Christmas presents found favor with car aficionados. In October, the car was on display at The Crown, Melbourne for a two week period. The brand had quite a few Posts around this, like the one below:
11 out of Honda’s 30 Posts were around this event. This included a contest, which asked audiences to share pictures of NSX at the Atrium and a behind-the-scenes scoop of how the car was brought to the venue. These Posts were key in building up excitement about the supercar.
Throwback and fan favorites made the crux of Toyota’s Posts. Take a look at one of their most popular posts:
The video featured four Toyota Celica owners, who have restored the vintage car and are still using it. These love stories were very relatable to other vintage car owners, whose enthusiasm showed in the engagement the post received.
Throwback and flashback Posts also help create brand loyalty.
Toyota leveraged their partnership with Cricket Australia and tapped into the Aussie cricket craze.
Though this analysis looked only at 5 auto brands in Australia on social media during the last quarter of 2016, there are a few takeaways that other brands can also benefit from:
Find out what your brand means to your audience: As we saw in several Posts about vintage cars, it is important that each brand understands what they want to stand for. This can be legacy, cutting edge technology, luxury, adventure.
Build brand loyalty with Posts that invite customer experiences. User-generated content is sometimes the best marketing.
Make your brand page a forum for your brands to interact and not a place where only you share content. This can create a feeling of brand ownership among Fans.
Make it your mission to produce content that adds value to your audience.
Understand what your audience wants by constantly monitoring what won favor and what tanked.
You can use Analyze to see how well you have performed so far. If you are stuck for content ideas, you can always look to Discover for data-backed inspiration.
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