Social media has ushered in a whole new world of marketing which rewards those who are brave enough to give it a try. For brands, Instagram is possibly the most accessible of all the social networks, due to its ultra-minimalist design and simple analytics. There are seemingly only so many things to know about how Instagram works.
I say seemingly, because while Instagram is both very simple to use and has a huge amount of active users, a truly definitive recipe for success is still yet to be found. There is a lot of trial and error required before finding a successful formula.
Auto brands have the resources to fund this trial and error. They also have products that are designed to be photographed. When scrolling through the average Instagram feed, cars would be right up there with sunsets and dinners on the list of most popular photo content.
Thanks to this welcome fact, these manufacturers have got somewhat of a leg-up when compared to many other industries. All they need to do is post stunning shots of their best models, and their work is halfway done. But car manufacturers know that to stand out from the crowd, you need to offer your followers more value than a close up shot of an exhaust. And some car makers seem a little more adept at exploiting Instagram than others.
Auto Industry Instagram Strategies
Car manufacturers have realised the value of telling a story. Ever since BMW came out with The Hire – one of the first examples of viral content marketing – in 2001, the auto industry has been on the cutting edge of featuring their products in exciting, entertaining content.
BMW have continued in this vein, but have since made a switch to a more user-generated strategy. One example is their #BMWstories campaign, which encourages owners and fans to share their favourite BMW memories on Instagram, collating them on a dedicated site.
The BMW owned Mini brand is another exponent of excellent user-generated or user-suggested content. Their #asktheNEWMINI campaign of 2014 was a huge success; it got Instagrammers to put questions to the new mini, which were answered in the form of a short video. The question ‘what’s the best trick you can do?’ was answered with a video of the mini making an origami crane. It was a creative, fun and terrifically engaging campaign.
Another go-to strategy is for auto brands to partner with Instagram influencers. Vine success story Jerry Purpdrank was employed by Ford to promote the unveiling of the new Ford GT at the North American International Auto Show, which he did to the tune of 70k+ likes.
Although, it must be said that this strategy is fraught with danger, as unsolicited advertising on a popular account can receive a mixed reaction from its devoted followers. The brand and the influencer need to be a good, natural fit.
The Top Instagram Car Brands
So, which do it best? A list of the top Instagram car brands in terms of follower count confirms what many may have suspected. Instagrammers want to see on their phone what they can’t afford to see in their garage.
Luxury and prestige are the flavour of the day, with BMW heading the list quite comfortably. While they only hold second place overall, Mercedes Benz actually spreads its followership over three different accounts in the top 20 – Mercedes Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Benz USA. Instagram is seemingly in love with German engineering, as the top four – BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Porsche – all hail from the country.
Supercars and super-luxury form much of the top 20, but these brands have a massive advantage on product alone. Comparing the likes of Hyundai with the likes of Bugatti is hugely unfair, and their respective numbers are not an accurate reflection of their Instagram savvy.
While some car brands may have to work harder than others for new followers, a lower profile does allows everyday manufacturers a greater flexibility in what they post. While the account activity of Rolls-Royce and Ferrari will have to be stunning and moody in order to fit with the company’s branding, the likes of Mini have shown that great Instagram material isn’t limited to those that charge six-figure sums for their cars.
When it comes to driving auto Instagram engagement, it’s about the content just as much as the product.
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