Why Trump is getting Ford the buzziest mentions on social media

By   |   April 4th, 2017   |   Reading time: 5 minutes Digital Journalism

Which auto brands see the most engaging coverage in media? Which cars have the best owned Facebook and Instagram channels? We investigate. 

As the weather warms up, we start thinking of road trips to take us away this summer (it’s true! Social media buzz around road trips peaked last year in February). But whether we’re going on a trip, just driving to work, or watching sleek and sexy car ads, it’s time to focus on the automobile.

With the New York International Auto Show right around the corner, we decided to revisit auto brands on social media and how they’re covered on social.

Last year, we noted that Nissan had a great community built up around user-generated content (and spoke to the brand’s social media team!), and Mercedes-Benz was particularly creative on Instagram. 

What does the landscape look like in 2017 for automotive brands and their enthusiasts? We used NewsWhip Analytics to take a look. We can use Analytics as a media monitoring tool to see where the conversation was concentrated. 

social media auto brands facebook pinterest linkedin twitter

These were the auto brands driving the most mentions from January 1st through March 31st, 2017. We used a simple keyword search around English-language content to look at 35 automotive brands.

As we can see, Ford drove a disproportionate amount of social media engagements. The reason for this may come from the “Trump Bump” that many brands and publishers are still seeing the effects of. We noticed this before in our interview with CNN and analysis of Nordstrom.

Auto stories social media

General Motors and Audi also saw their most engaging articles come from politically-charged content. Politics and cultural relevance are proving to be successful means of driving engagement; auto brands and their Super Bowl ads have also ranked in the most engaging content so far this year.

Stories around new cars and innovations also ranked highly – even for those not entirely automotive-related. Tesla is expanding into other technologies, like solar roofs. Tesla too, had some of its highest engaging stories entrenched in politics.

Volkswagen had an engaging mention from a nostalgic-tinted story around its new concept of “the beloved classic hippie bus“. Nostalgia and sentiment are powerful drivers of engagement on social media.

Maxim saw another engaging auto article for a Jeep Wrangler tie-in with Star Wars. Pairing up with pop-culture fan favorites is another successful storytelling method. WWE had an engaging story on John Cena showing off his Range Rover.

Different stories see varying success across the different social media platforms.

LinkedIn auto brands

For example, the articles that drove the most engagements on LinkedIn show different trends. These top stories focus on new technologies in the auto industry. Tesla does particularly well here, especially for content around Elon Musk.

Other content that does well is company-focused, like Porsche giving its employees raises. Again, Audi’s politically relevant Super Bowl ad makes the top ten.

Top Brands on Facebook

What about the auto brands’ owned media on native channels like Facebook? We decided to look at which auto brands’ official Facebook Pages (global and English-language Pages) were most popular in March 2017. 

auto brands most engaging popular on Facebook

Nissan sped ahead with 2 million engagements in March. NewsWhip Analytics lets us look at this across Facebook likes, shares, comments, and reactions. A good portion of Nissan and the other brands’ engagements came from their Facebook Pages in specific regions, like India and South Africa.

This shows a strong case for brands building out localized pages and communities, something that we’ve looked at successful brands doing before.

Half of the top brands are luxury cars. Auto enthusiasts may convene around automobile brands that they strongly admire but don’t necessarily possess.

Narrowing our focus to the top five brands here, we can see which content formats are the most successful.

top content formats post types for auto brands on Facebook

Photos made up 62 percent of the output from the top five auto brands on Facebook, followed by video. Cars are naturally suited to visual formats like photo and video. Live Video only accounted for 13 posts from the five brands.

This photo taken by a Nissan super-fan was Nissan’s top content for its U.S. page in March. In the comments, other fans shared photos of their own Nissan autos, and Nissan community managers answered questions from the community.

Top Brands on Instagram

Let’s shift gears to Instagram. Have the top engaging brands on Facebook replicated their success on Instagram?

Instagram auto brands cars

On Instagram, Mercedes-Benz steals the show, with fellow German rival BMW at its heels. Luxury brands do well on Instagram, due to the aspirational nature of the platform.

The two German automotive brands see over quadruple the number of engagements than Nissan and the others in our top ten.

While Mercedes-Benz was the top overall, BMW had the top post on Instagram for an auto brand in March. Again, visuals are well-suited to car brands, especially these photos that border on being works of art. 

Photos also do better than video content – the top 100 posts were all photos.

For brands and publishers both to succeed on social media, it’s important to know what content works best across platforms, who is leading the charge, and where your audience is engaging.

Take a demo of NewsWhip Analytics for data and insights tailored to your content


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