Volkswagen: Das Impact on Social Media Communities So Far

A week after The Revelations regarding VW’s software tinkering, what can we say about the impact on its social communities?

In one way, the brand now has a lot more people “following” them than every before. But unfortunately not for what the brand might consider the “right” reasons. (For example, we can estimate at about 10k the number of (new) journalists and PR professionals wanting to be first informed of VW’s public announcements on Twitter since last week).

All in all, we’ve measured a net decrease of 85k Facebook followers, 33k Twitter followers and 24k Instagram followers. These numbers may sound high, but they only make up 6% of the brand’s Instagram followers, 2% of its Twitter followers and less than 1% of its Facebook fans.

It was always puzzling to see Volkswagen and Audi, 2 power brands with endless content opportunities, let their German arch-rivals widen the gap on organic social media. Clearly VW was relying on different strategic levers for its growth.

Social DNA, global – March 25 to Sep 15 (pre-crisis): Mercedes-Benz and BMW firmly in the lead

It took these revelations to see VW finally overtake BMW on a social metric last week (in this case, Twitter @mentions). The problem, as one might expect, is that these mentions were not positive.

Kudos to @ggreeneva for Tweeting about the scandal very early on Sep 18th after the NYT posted the article.

Unfortunately for the Spanish football club Valencia (@valenciacf), the NYT article was not early enough to prevent this announcement a few hours earlier on the same day. (psst, It’s not a good idea to practice this close to the exhaust pipe!)

One of the few silver linings to this sad story is how the creativity of VW’s engineers unleashed the creativity of countless new “followers” around the world.

 Meanwhile, in Argentina, the past serves as refuge. Back then the emissions tests were not so stringent.

Stay tuned for more updates on the likely continued decline in VW’s social communities.

PS: how can one tell there have been 10k new Twitter followers drawn in by the scandal?