Shrinking in the rearview mirror: Mercedes-Benz’s Instagram dominance leaves competition in the dust

The first two months of 2016 have furthered trends which have been pretty stable for over a year now in the automotive sector: Instagram gets the most engagement (2.5x Facebook), and is growing much faster than any other platform. Therefore whoever leads on the platform is likely to outperform competitors on social media as a whole.

A cross-platform “Social DNA” overview for a select number of automotive brands shows that if YouTube and Facebook are hotly contested, Mercedes-Benz now has a commanding lead on Twitter @mentions, as well as an unassailable lead on Instagram, where it earns 2x as much as next-in-line BMW.

Said otherwise, while many car brands are competitive on platforms where one can spend one’s way to relevance (YouTube, Facebook), no one comes even close to Mercedes-Benz when it comes to developing large quantities of content good enough for people to engage with organically (Twitter, Instagram).
Jan-Feb Global social footprint for selected brands: Instagram is THE place to be

Jan-Feb Global social footprint for selected automotive brands: Instagram is THE place to be

Zooming in on Mercedes-Benz’s Instagram footprint, the global @MercedesBenz account is so strong it cannot but highlight the opportunity ahead for local accounts. @MBusa and @mercedesbenz_de show that it is possible to have robust, fast growing local accounts.

Mercedes-Benz only, split by Instagram account (F1 account left out)

While some brands are mistakenly laying all of their eggs in a single global basket, data and common sense converge to show that brands localising Twitter and Instagram assets are better able to play on #themes that local consumers are more engaged by. For example, the below charts show that while @MercedesBenz_de’s most engaging #themes were #WhatABeast and #SModell, global posts did best when they tackled #GWagon or #Luxury.

Beyond obvious language constraints, global assets are unable to customise their content to match local seasons, time of the day, trends, not to mention consumer preferences.

Once a brand finds the right #themes to play on, it is key to bring them to life the right way. Visual and semiotic analyses are able to uncover powerful patterns to help optimise the returns from each visual created. 

Contrasting the top and bottom 20 posts from the leading Instagram account (@MercedesBenz) shows that posts perform better when the car is prominent, when the interior shot zooms in on the (branded) steering-wheel. Bottom performing posts are more likely to include a white frame (=smaller visual), or focus more on the landscape/surrounding than the actual car.

Similar patterns are observable by any untrained eye looking at the top 20 visuals for the broader category:

Top 20 Jan-Feb 2016 posts for the competitive set in scope (see bar chart)

Last but not least, the top automotive Tweet from Jan-Feb 2016 reminds us that just 2 words coupled with the right visual can have a whole lot more impact than 140 characters:

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