The many reasons Mercedes-Benz will continue to stretch its social media lead

Driverless cars are around the corner, but social media benchmarking suggests driverless marketing organisations may already be in place at many automotive companies.

Besides BMW and the ever dominant Mercedes-Benz, no brand seems to have realized that Instagram could become a greater source of engagement (for free) than Facebook is (for a price). Looking back at 2014, Mercedes earned 90m engagement from Instagram and scored appx 60m engagement on Facebook. Meanwhile, the other 10 power brands in this competitive set earned just 50m Instagram engagement combined, and instead spent quite a lot of money to buy 150m Facebook engagement.

Trends and performances worth highlighting include:

  • YouTube and Twitter are the two fastest growing platforms (100% growth in 2014), reflecting both the health of these platforms in the auto category and the surprising lack of enthusiasm for Instagram for most brands in this set. In many digitally savvy categories eBench works with (e.g. cosmetics, energy drinks, fashion etc.), Instagram community growth is well over 100% for 2014 and is the fastest growing (major) platform
  • Volkswagen and Jaguar had the most positive YouTube ratings in 2014, but both brands failed to convert engagement into new subscribers. (Ask us to get tips on conversion). The healthiest YouTube profiles belong to Audi and BMW, followed by Mercedes-Benz.
  • Facebook’s annual community growth is surprisingly resilient at 32%.  For brands like Mercedes and BMW that already earn lot of engagement from Instagram, the choice to sponsor posts on Facebook on top can be justified. For all the other brands in this set, the 2012-like focus on Facebook would be less puzzling if they could also boast strengths on Instagram and Twitter.  These challengers need to prioritize content development first, and only once their social programme is running on all cylinders should they think about also boosting a few top posts on Facebook.
  • Twitter performance is the most reliable proxy for overall social savviness. That Mercedes dominates is not surprising, but BMW (#2 overall in automotive) is surprisingly weak on @mentions with just 10% of mentions from 14% of followers. Note that while Mercedes has a strong lead on @mentions, nearly half of them come from its F1 account @mercedesAMGF1. Grand Prix are prototypical Twitter-friendly events (notice how Ferrari also overperforms on Twitter @mentions) – perhaps a source of inspiration for Volkswagen, Citroen, Ford and others to do more from their participation in WRC.
  • Mercedes-Benz and BMW score nearly 90% of Instagram engagement in this set. The only “bad” news for Mercedes is that more than 75% of its engagement comes from its global @MercedesBenz account. It should use its stronger assets (eg global accounts, Twitter accounts, partners) to re-direct fans to its smaller, promising accounts to give them an infusion of fans (e.g., @mercedesAMGF1 etc.)

Digital DNA – selected car brands – total 2014 (long-tail may be cut off)

10 facts and insights about 2014 for this competitive set

#1 Nissan dominated on number of videos posted (a new eBench metric)

With 25% of all videos posted, the brand’s output is impressive, but it makes its inability to convert this activity into community size a disappointment

#2 Most re-tweeted Tweet for 2014 appears to have been promoted. The absence of photos or re-tweetworthy material makes this a prime candidate for promoted tweet.

On the other hand, this Tweet (time sensitive, hashtagged, clever wording, with pictures) is spot on.

#3 When Twitter is not all thumbs up – this was among the 10 most re-tweeted Tweets of 2014 in this set

#4 The most used hashtag on Instagram? #Instacar. And this is the post with #Instacar that received the most engagement in 2014. (Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool in-house that allows you to look up any content for any hashtags in 2 clicks?)

#5 The most Liked Instagram post of 2014? Who said consumers didn’t dream BIG?

And the post with the highest engagement PER follower? (this is a better measure of content strategy quality)

#6 The most shared Facebook post (which was not an Instagram album posted on Facebook): this Audi video worth a look

#7 The public service announcement with the largest footprint? Probably this video from Nissan.

#8 The Facebook post with the most Likes? This highly sponsored VW post in Brazil.

To maximize Facebook sponsored posts ROI, we recommend brands boost content with high “grip ratio” – contact us for more detail. To give you a hint, a post like this one gets greater bang for the sponsored post buck:

#9 The most liked video last year was VW’s Last Voyage of the Kombi – (more than 33,000 likes) – a consumer posted it here.

It barely edged out Jaguar’s Superbowl 2014 Rendez-Vous advert, re-posted here.

#10 The 10 countries that sourced the greatest share of website traffic in 2014 for this competitive set:

This is panel data (source: Amazon Web Services – use directionally / other = sum of small markets)