4 Social Media Strategies The Auto Industry Used During CES


Peter Claridge

January 11, 2016 6 min read

Updated on May 2, 2017


With the US auto show in full swing, we thought we’d have a look at how the auto brands are increasingly asserting themselves on the tech scene. At CES last week, consumer goods and futuristic gadgets had to share the stage with cars.

It’s for good reason too. A study in Canada found that 31% of men looked at the technology in the car as a buying decision while an Autotrader study found that 77% of people are more concerned about the in-car technology than the colour.

Little wonder then that CES is seen as an important event and why it makes it into the content calendars of auto manufacturers’ social media teams. But for many auto brands taking part, it wasn’t enough to just post a few updates, they employed different strategies which are explored below.

BMW – Influencer Outreach

BMW published all its CES content around the hashtag #BMWCES2016 and simply #CES2016. It published content across all its BMW USA social network profiles and saw higher than normal engagement as a result.


Blind spots have been a danger for motorists and pedestrians since cars were first put on the road. BMW introduced concept technology at CES that would help eliminate blind spots altogether. It touched a chord as well because it was one of the most commented on pieces of content that BMW published in the last 30 days.



No more blind spots —The #BMWi8 #Mirrorless camera system replaces car mirrors for a better view: #BMWCES2016

Posted by BMW USA on Saturday, January 9, 2016


BMW was very clever on Twitter. It didn’t talk about its product launches or technology at CES. Instead, it reached out to influencers and journalists on Twitter and asked them if they wanted a ride to the venue in a BMW 7 Series.

The result was that the community used the hashtag #CES2016 126 times while also mentioning BMW’s USA handle which made it the third most popular hashtag for the brand in the last 30 days.


BMW only made the one post on Instagram about its presence at CES this year, but it earned a higher engagement than many of its other posts in the last thirty days.

Volkswagen – Reused Content

Volkswagen introduced its BUDD-e electric concept car at CES – something auto manufacturers traditionally did at the North America Motor Show. Volkswagen pushed the launch of this vehicle across their US-focused social media profiles and saw excellent engagement as a result. Volkswagen also introduced some more consumer tech inside its cars at CES, but on social media it only focused on the introduction of the BUDD-e concept car and it used the exact same content and copy on all its social network pages.


Volkswagen has published just six pieces of content this month on Facebook, one of which was about the BUDD-e concept car. The post was extremely well received by its audience, accounting for 75% of the total Shares the page has earned. However, the actual concept car proved to be divisive as many of the top comments were negative in nature as people didn’t appreciate the design.


The all-electric, concept BUDD-e, bringing our past to your future. See its reveal at #CES2016 in Las Vegas.

Posted by Volkswagen on Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Volkswagen used the same content as on Facebook to introduce its BUDD-e concept car. Once again, the tweet was very well received, generating higher engagement than Volkswagen has done in the last few months. However, like on Facebook, the post saw a mixed reaction from people replying to the tweet with most people disliking the design or calling out Volkswagen for introducing too many concepts that never make it to market.

Still, it just goes to show that introducing a new vehicle, even a concept one, is a surefire way to drive up engagement across different social networks. See how tweets of the #CES2016 hashtag which also @-mentioned VW spiked during the announcement.




Does the post below have a familiar look to it? Yep, Volkswagen published the same content across their social network profile pages and guess what? It worked like a charm. This post earned Volkswagen some of its highest engagement in the last few months. It just goes to show that a divisive piece of content can generate a huge amount of interaction from the community.


Ford – Live Tweeting the Event

Ford used CES to promote their new in-car technology, the Ford Sync infotainment. Interestingly, the carmaker decided to focus all its social media efforts on Twitter with no mention of their presence at CES on Facebook or Instagram. The brand was also the official vehicle of CES 2016 which would have helped them get plenty of visibility.


The strategy of focusing all their social efforts on Twitter, Ford’s social media team was able to produce more content and in effect, live tweet the announcements that came out of the event. This resulted in 20 tweets around the event which was amplified by over 1,800 user tweets – more than any other auto brand at CES.


One of the most popular tweets around Ford’s involvement with CES is shown below. When in doubt, post a gorgeous image of a supercar.

In total, Ford generated over 2,800 interactions on its #CES2016 tweets.


Ford didn’t really use Instagram as a platform to talk about its CES 2016 announcements but it did publish one photo that mentioned it was the official vehicle partner of the event. This image was the most engaging piece of content Ford has published in the last few months.

Chevrolet – Live Streaming 

Chevrolet used CES to launch their newest vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The event was built up across their social media profile pages and the brand was one of the first that I’ve seen to make use of Facebook’s live streaming ability.


Chevrolet published five pieces of content about the launch of the Chevrolet Bolt. The second post saw the most traction as it was a live stream from the event – enabling people to watch the announcement in real-time. This is one reason why it generated so much engagement in terms of comments and shares – including a Like by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg.


We’re coming to you live from CES 2016! Join us right now and connect with the latest news on the all-electric 2017 Bolt EV in real time.

Posted by Chevrolet on Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Chevrolet published seven pieces of content around the launch of the Bolt EV at CES and it generated nearly 300 interactions in total.


Like the auto brands above, Chevrolet chose not to use Instagram as a main focus for its CES 2016 announcements. Instead, it posted a single image to announce the launch of the Bolt EV. The content performed well in terms of Likes and Comments, although it wasn’t the most engaging piece of content Chevrolet has published this year.

More Auto Brands at CES

These four auto brands weren’t the only manufacturers at CES, there were plenty more showing off their in-car consumer tech. With live streaming, Periscope, Vine, Snapchat and plenty of other tools at the disposal of social media teams, disseminating information has never been easier. However, auto brands saw mixed responses and analysts need to study what worked this year (and last year) to plan ahead for their CES 2017 content strategy.

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