How Automakers Leverage The Power Of Social Media
Certain consumer articles are top of mind for you at the moment and you’ve been thinking about, discussing, and researching them. Whether your conversations and online reading are currently dominated by a Saeco coffee machine, a Mazda SUV , or an HP printer, where did the trigger come from? Chances are you saw that Saeco, Mazda, or HP on social media because you follow these brands’ pages, or because of a remarketing ad on social media, following your recent web activity researching these products.
Social Media As An Information Channel
Information and news have become widely dispersed and people don’t want to keep track of multiple channels to keep up to speed with what they want to know anymore. There are too many apps and websites, so it’s just easier to find your news channel’s social-media channel and follow that. It’s the same with products and remains true whether you’re interested in coffee machines, cars, or printers. Following their social-media channels delivers news on their new models and product launches in convenient bite-size bits, the trickle of which never stops - all in one place.
Marketing on social media has many advantages for any type of business and many are turning to it because they can get more mileage out of every dollar on social media:
• Easy distribution of newsworthy and informative content
• Targeted-audience marketing and better audience insight
• Better SEO rankings and web traffic
• It’s economical
Automakers’ Social Media Strategies
How much do automakers spend on social media marketing? The answer is half or more of their entire advertising budgets on Facebook alone in comparison with other advertising channels. Automakers spending this much include Toyota, Infiniti, Ford, and BMW. The remainder of the spend is divided between YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Interestingly, this is the case for cars, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, but not all products. This is probably because the average age of a Facebook user is higher than users of other social media and this is the audience automakers want to appeal to. The other channels cater more to younger audiences.
Here are some other marketing strategies automakers like to engage in on social media:
Companies team up with famous influencers to promote their wares. To this end, Toyota has partnered with travel influencer Kelly Lund on Instagram and his similarly famous influencer dog, Loki, which has his own Instagram profile. In a similar way, Maserati has teamed up for a big marketing campaign with influencers James Walker, Scott Schuman, and Jenny Walton. There are many more examples.
Reputation management on social media has a very significant impact on consumers’ buying patterns and, according to famous brands such as Cadillac. Platforms like Facebook are a modern-day word-of-mouth marketing channel where companies can address complaints and amplify and repost positive commentaries and reviews.
Mazda has an interesting approach in that they value psychographics rather than demographics in a more customer-centric way of marketing. In this way, they can market to customers that have a certain collection of attitudes towards driving. It’s their way to find and market to the enthusiasts that are truly interested not only in Mazda cars’ technology, features, performance, and engine specs, but the unique Mazda driving enjoyment.
Automakers are not quite there yet, but they are starting to experiment with qualified leads on social media. Nissan is already having more personalized interactions with people who have identified themselves as ‘hand raisers’; ie. they are interested in learning more about one of their vehicles. This consumer is only a step away from that test drive. Many brands use retargeting in social media ads and newer tools such as natural-language-processing tech can identify new leads.
Consumers’ behaviors and attitudes can be tracked and understood by using analytics and in this way, brands like Kia determine what factors attract/motivate consumers. Conversations can even be used to optimize content and search terms. This field opens up new opportunities to truly understand a consumer at their individual level. Other possibilities include:
• Luring away the competition’s customers
• Regaining the trust of previously dissatisfied customers
• Determining a customer’s likelihood of moving on to the purchasing stage
• Offering the right customers promotions that are relevant to their needs
• Tracking and even automating your online reputation through review aggregation
• Vastly improved customer segmentation
Automotive marketing has changed beyond all recognition and has moved into the digital and social media space. Automakers have identified social media as an affordable and extremely effective marketing tool thanks to all the metrics available to identify and target customers, as well as customize the marketing - and remarketing - they are exposed to. In fact, social media probably fits the automotive industry best - more so than most other types of marketing. And the industry has been at the forefront of experimenting with new technologies, such as Mazda’s psychographic marketing.
Soon, it will mature and automatically become part of the sales funnel too. One thing is for certain, social media - in all its configurations, niches, and permutations - is still growing and will continue to reach new heights. It’s the place to be.