Automobile companies seek additional drive through social media

Brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai & Maruti look to beat sluggish sales by building greater engagement via social media marketing

e4m by Priyanka Nair
Updated: May 23, 2013 10:38 PM
Automobile companies seek additional drive through social media

A sluggish economy and high interest rates have seen automobile companies reporting negative growth trends in 2012-13, as per various media reports. The last time that the Indian auto market was in the red was in 2002-03, when growth fell by 2.1 per cent.

Despite growth slowing, the Indian market is continuing to witness new launches such as the Honda Amaze sedan and Ford Eco Sport SUV. The industry is pinning hopes on launches for incremental numbers. Experts also believe that growth will come from the increasing demand for SUVs and utility vehicles, something validated by the success of models such as the Renault Duster and Maruti Ertiga.

The automobile sector is increasingly turning to digital advertising, registering a growth of over 100 per cent as search queries for cars increase. Thus, social media is becoming an integral part of automobile brands’ digital media plans.

According to Social Wavelength’s report, which is on the basis of Radian6, a real time monitoring tool was used to extract conversations about the presence of automobile brands in India on Facebook and Twitter. The report, which was released in December 2012, stated that Indian automobile brands are preferred more than their foreign counterparts in India, accounting for 53 per cent of the share of voice.

Price is the most important factor in discussions about automobiles on social media, followed by features. Together, these are the primary aspects of discussions in 72 per cent of the conversations. Safety is considered to be the least important of the aspects, with only 8 per cent of the discussions about it.

exchange4media takes a look at a few auto brands that have been creating a buzz in the social media space of late.

Mercedes-Benz ‘vrooms’ beyond Facebook and Twitter
Mercedes-Benz has leveraged the social media platform to create huge buzz and long-term engagements such as MB Connect – a unique initiative that brings celebrities like Michael Schumacher, Boris Becker, and Farhan Akhtar close to Mercedes-Benz fans, along with the top management of Mercedes-Benz, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ebarhard Kern.

Apart from MB Connect, there are initiatives such as ultimate touring trails with B-class, pulse of new generation with A-class and launch of GL-class on social media, along with contests and post-launch engagement initiatives offline.

Mercedes-Benz India currently has over 1 million fans on Facebook, who are constantly being engaged with content that they are passionate about and interact with. The brand has a healthy Twitter and YouTube presence too. What is interesting to see is that the brand has recently started looking at enhancing its presence through blogging and image marketing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, which showcase imagery of all the vehicles, which has resulted in a fast growing following.

Hyundai’s storytelling ‘drive’
Hyundai came up with an innovative plan to ask its fans to write the next i10 story and have the best scriptwriter star alongside Shah Rukh Khan in the next i10 commercial. The rules were fairly simple - the participants had to simply write an idea for an ad.

Christened ‘Write Your i10 Story’, the contest garnered a lot of attention on social media. It was the first time a brand went ahead to crowdsource for its TVC script through its fans, increasing engagement on social and digital properties. The campaign was executed by Everymedia.


Maruti’s IPL bet
Pepsi  IPL 2013 has continued to captivate Indian audiences, who are now watching the matches not only on television but online as well. To further engage and interact with cricket fans, Maruti Suzuki India has tapped the IPL fever by launching the Maruti Suzuki India League on Facebook.

The league has six teams representing the six top performers from Maruti Suzuki’s stable - Ritz Joyriders, Alto Go-Getters, SX4 Warriors, Dzire Bravehearts, WagonR Smart Players and Swift Hi-performers, representing Ritz, Alto 800, SX4, Dzire, WagonR and Swift, respectively.

Users get to bat for their respective team and score runs before moving on to the next round in the game, where they answer a quick quiz around cricket trivia and the participating six brands. The campaign has been executed by Ignitee.

It will be interesting to see the various social media conversations and campaigns as the market witnesses new launches and picks up in the coming days.

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