Automotive Social Performance Update: Mercedes-Benz and BMW still dominant despite recent slowdown

The past 6 months saw the continued dominance of Mercedes-Benz and BMW on “western” social platforms. The 2 brands did stage a 10% drop in engagement vs the prior period, but they still scored a combined 43% of cross-platform category engagement, and a staggering 52% on the most important platform, Instagram.

While BMW is a top 20 performer in our cross-category brand tracking, Mercedes-Benz achieves a whole other level of social performance: it scored more Instagram engagement (209m) in these 6 months than the whole automotive category achieved on Facebook (206m)! On top, the brand stretched its subscriber lead on Instagram and YouTube, effectively making it that much harder for laggards to close the gap in coming months.

Taking a platform by platform look:

  • Instagram (feed) engagement was roughly flat vs the prior 6 months despite a 42% (annualised) growth in followers. This was driven by a rise in Stories production and posting which cannibalised feed content engagement.
  • YouTube staged an even faster subscriber growth (54% annualised). At one end of the spectrum, Mercedes-Benz led on engagement and subscriber growth thanks to frequent posting to an already large community. At the other end, Hyundai led on YouTube views (250m+), but because most views were bought, engagement and community growth were both tiny, so its YouTube impact was mostly short-term.
  • Facebook has been losing traction with most brands, but continues to score slightly more engagement than Instagram amongst “mass” brands.
  • Twitter engagement is now so small it is almost insignificant.

Cross-platform footprint, Dec 1 until June 1, total automotive brands

Breaking down Instagram performance by account shows that Mercedes-Benz lands 3 of the top 8 spots, with @mercedesbenz_de showing it is possible for local accounts to outperform in a language other than English. In fact, nurturing local communities remains one of the biggest untapped opportunities for the category: our data shows that, across categories, consumers engage more with local language posts boosted by the greater relevance of their “components” (hashtags, @partners etc.)

Instagram engagement, split by its 3 levers — Dec 1 until June 1

The other side of the social performance coin is @Earned social: which brands are managing to received the most engagement from 3rd parties? Here Audi grabs the lead just ahead of Mercedes-Benz, both brands far ahead of others.

Brand receiving the most @earned engagement from third parties  (coverage is not exhaustive but it is representative)

Car brands currently manage to engage with superior visuals of their newer and/or more impressive models, but engagement drops once the focus moves away from the car. (see mosaic at top of blog post: these are the top 28 posts for @mercedesbenz in the past 6 months.)

Across categories, accounts that sustain follower growth achieve high engagement across different types of visual narratives, catering to different #topical interests and consumer preferences. Content variety also helps accounts fight off follower fatigue, which is especially important for accounts posting over 3 times per day.

To get inspiration about #topics to tap and how to visualise them, look no further than:

(i) category “influencers” to understand what they’ve been #talking about that’s most engaged their communities.

Contact us for some examples

(ii) or what car brands have been #talking about that has engaged their communities (here April 1- June 1 data)

How to read: posts featuring #interiorDesign performed 32% higher than the norm 

Ready to grow your brand’s social performance? Reach out!