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How The Major US Auto Brands Got Social in Q2-2015

Peter Claridge

It’s no secret that 2015 has been a strong year for the auto industry in general, with sales of trucks and SUVs reporting double digit growth over 2014’s performance according to the WSJ. That said, car sales were down 1.9%, possibly as a result of more people opting for the cross-over type vehicles due to the cheaper prices at the gas pump.

To see how this strong growth is being reflected on social media, we looked at the performance of the top US auto brands during the second quarter of 2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Growth

It would seem that it was Chevrolet that capitalized most on this growth in sales. The auto brand leads the way in terms of fan numbers on Facebook and also grew twice as fast as any other major US auto manufacturer.

Comparison_Fans_Apr_1_2015_to_Jun_30_2015

A closer look at Chevrolet’s growth suggests that it wasn’t organic but possibly the result of a merging of pages because the page gained over 300,000 new fans on April 10th. Discounting this jump in fan numbers, Chevrolet had a 2.7% growth rate which was more inline with the other auto brands.

Engagement

Combined, there was nearly 33,000 pieces of content published by brands and fans on the pages of these eight auto brands – around 32 new posts every day. Dodge was the most prolific out of the brand content, publishing 200 pieces of content on its Facebook wall – the equivalent of 2.2 posts per day.

Unsurprisingly, with this volume of posts, Dodge earned the most interactions from fans, 980,000 in total. However, interactions don’t tell the whole story.

We don’t believe that a Like is equal to a Comment or a Share – both of which increase the reach of your content. Also, reporting engagement based on numbers of interactions are biased towards brands that have larger communities or pay to promote their content more.

Sidenote: If you want to know what content your competitors are promoting, check out our promoted post detection product.

To that end we used the Unmetric engagement score which factors in the size of the community and takes into account that someone Sharing or Commenting on your content is engaging more than when they just Like it.

Using this engagement score, we found that Subaru is engaging best with its fans with a score of 617 out of 1,000. A very close second is Nissan USA with a score of 568. Dodge, despite its high volume of interactions scores 394.

Comparison_Engagement_Apr_1_2015_to_Jun_30_2015

When we looked at the share of voice numbers, we found that the reason Nissan USA did so well is that they earned 28% of all the Comments left by fans on content published by these auto brands. Often we find that most content earns Likes, then Shares. Comments are much harder to achieve which means Nissan USA is doing an excellent job of engaging its audience.

The Content

Driving the engagement for Dodge was content around its Viper model – hardly a surprise then that the brand earned so many interactions from fans. The post below was its most engaging, Liked, Commented and Shared post for the quarter.

With over 25 million customization options, the Viper 1-of-1 Program lets you pick your poison. Take control. DriveSRT.com/Viper

Posted by Dodge on Thursday, April 16, 2015

For Subaru, its most shared piece of content had nothing to do with cars but did tie in with its larger campaign of #MakeADogsDay. The video in the post below was the most shared piece of content in the auto industry in the second quarter – clearly pets resonate heavily with car owners.

Dogs make the world a better place. We believe it’s time to do amazing things for dogs. That’s why we’re inviting you to share the ways you #MakeADogsDay.

Posted by Subaru of America, Inc. on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

To understand why Nissan was producing content that got so many fans Commenting on it was just a simple case of looking at the campaigns it had been running on Facebook. Unmetric tags content and tracks campaigns of major brands for easy identification and comparison.

The source of the large number of Comments came from the Altima Chase campaign where fans had to spot the clues and report their answers in the Comments section. Seven brand posts and 13,000 fan comments later, this was one of the most popular campaigns in the auto industry in Q2.

nissan-campaigns

Social Customer Service

Customer satisfaction with the auto industry is at a five year low according to the 2014 American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Unmetric looks at the brand responsiveness on Facebook to calculate not just how many fan posts the brand replies to, but also how fast.

There were nearly 23,000 fan posts (this doesn’t include comments on the brand posts) on the walls of the 8 auto manufacturers. Unsurprisingly it was Ford that saw the most fans posting on their wall with over 6,100 posts and Chevrolet was second with 3,850 fan posts.

However, the chart below shows that both brands could learn a little something from Nissan USA. The Japanese carmaker not only responds to the highest percentage of fan posts (31%) but does so faster than any other brand. Each fan has to wait an average of 5 hours and 25 minutes for a response. Spare a thought for the poor Volkswagen USA fans that have to wait over 2 days to get a response from the brand.

Comparison_Responses_Apr_1_2015_to_Jun_30_2015

The attention that Nissan USA has to customer service spills over on to Twitter as well. The brand was the third most mentioned carmaker in Q2 with 27,800 @-mentions, tailing Ford with 50,500 @-mentions and Chevrolet with 43,000 @-mentions.

That said, even with 27,800 mentions, Nissan responded to the highest proportion of tweets and in the fastest time. Just like on Facebook, the brand replied to a tweet in an average of 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Comparison_Replies_Response_Rate_Apr_1_2015_to_Jun_30_2015

To ensure that it keeps its spot as having the fastest average reply time in the industry, Nissan USA appears to have customer support representatives on a 10 hour shift with work starting shortly after 8am EST and finishing at 6pm EST.

The chart below shows the customer service strategy of Nissan USA, it looks like it spends the first four hours of the day clearing the backlog because after 12 noon, the reply time starts to drop dramatically. The best time for customers to get a response from the brand would be between 4 and 6pm EST.

NissanUSA_ART_Time_of_Day_Apr_1_2015_to_Jun_30_2015

To learn more insights from the US Auto Industry on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, check out the full report in the Slideshare below.