Auto majors woo fans through social media

Audi & Tata Motors use Facebook most effectively to engage with consumers, says a study by Unmetric

e4m by Sai Prasanna
Updated: Nov 23, 2012 6:57 PM
Auto majors woo fans through social media

As Tarkan Maner of Dell Wyse famously remarked, “The social media space is where your entire customer base is hanging out, and where your customers are, you should be there.” Auto brands are a great example of this kind of social media engagement to reach a TG consisting of a rapidly expanding upper middle class that is sophisticated, upwardly mobile, and increasingly brand conscious.

The car market in India has come a long way since the Premier and Ambassador, with today’s discerning buyer being able to choose from a Rs. 1.5 lakh Tata Nano up to a Rs 1.5 crore Audi R8. As car showrooms mushroom in towns and cities across India, a new marketing frontier is opening up for these brands to win the hearts, minds and hopefully, the loyalties of young, upwardly mobile citizens through social media.

Unmetric, the social media benchmarking company, has released a comprehensive report on how 16 car manufacturers in India are using Facebook to leverage their marketing efforts. The report examines every aspect of brands’ Q3 social media strategy (July-September 2012). The performance of the various car brands are rated based on an ‘Unmetric Score’, a measurement tool designed to give ‘sector aware’ context to social media activity. The ‘Car Brands in India Report’ highlights successes in specific metrics, while the combined Unmetric Score represents those brands with the best social media performance on Facebook.

Metrics analysed
One of the metrics analysed by the study is the brand with ‘Most fans on Facebook’. Mahindra Motors ranked first with 41,37,641 fans, Tata Motors came second (28,48,144 ), followed by Maruti Suzuki (21,63,328), Audi (12,55,698), and BMW (11,76,361).

A second metric ‘Most engaging brands on Facebook based on average engagement score’ places German brand Audi right on top with a score of 490 followed by Mitsubishi (265), BMW (222), Mercedes (144), and Renault (100).

The third metric of ‘Fastest average reply time on Facebook’ saw Indian born Tata Motors placed at the top rung of the ladder. The brand’s clocked the fastest response time – 3 hours 24 minutes, Hyundai taking second place (7 hours 18 minutes), Chevrolet (10 hours 50 minutes), Mercedes (11 hours 3 minutes), and Skoda (13 hours 57 minutes).

Unmetric also gauged the ‘Most engaging content’, a calculation based on an average engagement score combined from all Facebook pages. News on new vehicle launch emerged at the top with a score of 79. Posts regarding upcoming events and brand updates came close at 41 and 35 respectively. Questions to fans scored a 26 while contests landed a 20.

Despite being a new entrant in the market compared to the other manufacturers, Audi tops the performance table with an Unmetric Score of 53. At number two is India’s own Tata Motors with an Unmetric Score of 52 while another German brand, BMW, drives home in third place with an Unmetric Score of 40. Hyundai and Mahindra follow closely behind with scores of 37 and 32 respectively.

In terms of raw numbers, the Indian car manufacturers come out on top. Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, and Tata have 91 lakh fans between them – a number exceeding every other car brand combined. This is not surprising considering that these brands control over 52 per cent of the market. It was the aspirational German brands which dominated among the foreign car makers. BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and VW have 39 lakh fans between them despite commanding less than 0.8 per cent of the market share.

The business of engagement
To find out how different types of content affect engagement on Facebook, Unmetric has used ‘human computing’ along with advanced algorithms to uncover and dissect the content strategy of brands on Facebook. In this analysis of car manufacturers in India, it was found that most brands were talking about themselves while, in fact, talking about the car sector in general scored better engagement among the fans.

Taking the content analysis one step further, the company also sub-categorised the ‘Talking about the brand’ posts. This analysis found that most brands posted news about the brand but what fans really responded to were new model announcements and events such as the Delhi Auto Expo.

Tata Motors – No.1 ‘caring’ brand
One of the ways brands can encourage a Facebook community to grow and engage better is to be responsive to their fans. In this respect, Unmetric looked at how well the car manufacturers in India were responding to fan posts. Most pages responded to less than 10 per cent of fan posts. Tata Motors responded and engaged best with fans by replying to the highest percentage of fan posts. Tata Motors cemented their position as the number one caring brand by responding to fan posts in just over three hours on average.

The brand has doubled its engagement rate on Facebook within the span of year from a mere 17,000 fans in October 2011 to 2.3 million this year. The brand wanted to change the negative perception revolving around since its launch and began by repositioning the Nano 2012 as a youth-friendly car. To create a connect with the youth and rebuild its image as an everyday, reliable car, the brand decided to tap social media and become the biggest and most talked about brand. So, they devised a strategy wherefore with the help of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the brand was made to connect to the youth.

Tata began with a ‘Nano expert quiz’ on Facebook where fans answering 10 questions about the Nano under a minute stood to win Nano merchandise. The activity saw a participation of more than 10,000 fans. Next, a ‘Beat the traffic’ interactive game was launched where more than 12,000 fans attempted to cross 50 levels and win goodies. TML then sought to integrate the online and the offline mediums though ‘Nano drive with MTV’.

What with racing catching on in the country, Nano associated with IIT-Powai’s college festival ‘Mood Indigo’ to create a race circuit in the campus where contestants could go for a spin in the Nano. The activity was repeated in IIM-Ahmedabad. To carry forward its message as a youthful, fun, vibrant brand, Nano collaborated with St.Xaviers’ Malhar fest where the youth could paint the car and engage in other fun activities.

Next came the ‘Nano Short Film’ competition to tap the immense talent of the youth. A 5-minute film with the Tata Nano as the part of the story had to be submitted.

Tata Nano entered into a tie-up with the Bollywood film ‘Student of the Year’ and launched a nationwide hunt, promoted heavily in the social media space to find India’s Student of the year. To qualify, the students had to be all-rounders - in academics, sports, socially active.

The contest was promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and a video featuring Karan Johar was launched on Youtube. Within the first few days, there were close to 60,000 candidatures.

TML also ran a 3-day event ‘Nano: Art in motion’ where two artists were invited to paint on the car which went around Mumbai during the Ganesh Utsav and also to old age homes and orphanages spreading cheer.

Tata has several exciting contests and offline-online integrations lined up to continue its engagement with its fans and primarily, the youth. 

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