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For auto brands on social, Instagram’s the place to be

By   |   December 12th, 2017   |   Reading time: 5 minutes Brands

social media analytics, social media monitoring

Instagram is a huge platform for auto brands, where their content gets many times the number of engagements it does on other platforms. We take a look at the numbers and trends.

Instagram is a growing market for brands, with over 800 million active users as of September 2017. As we will see, it presents an opportunity for brands to extend their reach and engagement much further than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

And this extended reach is certainly the case for auto brands on social, who have had phenomenal success on the platform. This blog takes data from our recent report on auto brands on social, which you can read in full here.


Instagram vs. Facebook


Some of the biggest brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, have amassed as many as 90 million engagements on their content between August 1st and October 31st of 2017.

Compare that with the 4 million and 2 million engagements that they respectively achieved on Facebook and it becomes obvious that Instagram’s the place to be if you’re an auto brand trying to get engagement on your social posts.


And this disproportionate level of success on Instagram was not limited to just BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

In fact, every one of the top auto brands on social that we looked at was significantly more engaged on Instagram than they were on Facebook, ranging from everything from 8x more engagements (Dodge) to more than 500x the engagements (Jaguar).

The trend remained true across average engagement as well, with similarly high performance across the board. BMW averaged some 225,551 engagements per post on Instagram, compared to just 11,224 on Facebook.

Even Tesla, who only posted seven times on Instagram for the three month period, averaged 78,737 engagements per post.

Auto Instagram v FB average

So it’s obvious that Instagram is a huge success story for auto brands, but what’s driving that success? The answer dovetails quite nicely into two categories; types of post and choice of hashtag.


Photos are engagement royalty


When it comes to best types of post on Instagram, there’s a simple and consistent answer — images.

Images were by far the most successful type of post on Instagram across the board with nine of the top ten most engaging brands’ top posts on the platform being images. In fact, Porsche was the only auto brand in the top ten that didn’t have an image as a top post, with its carousel post showcasing a new model of Porsche the best performing with 222,720 engagements.


Unsurprisingly, BMW and Mercedes-Benz came out on top once again with the most engaging posts, but Lamborghini was also up there with similar numbers. These brands tend to focus on their more high-end brands on Instagram as it plays well with the aspirational feel of the platform.


To hashtag or not to hashtag?


Brands did one of two things when it came to hashtagging their posts, either opting to eschew them completely, or go especially heavy on them. It was rare for a single hashtag to be used, though BMW was one exception to this with its #BMWi8 posts.

All other brands in the top ten that used hashtags tended to use more than one at a time.

Some of the top hashtags that are used in the auto industry by brands themselves are #carsofInstagram, #Instacars, #cargram, #car, and #InstaAutos.

Instagram hashtags auto

Of these, the most successful by a reasonable distance was #carsofInstagram, which garnered around 2x more engagements than the next highest, which was #Instacars.

Given the nature of the platform, there was some cross-pollination with these hashtags, and it was often the case that one post had more than one of the listed hashtags. #CarsofInstagram was the most consistent of these across the three months, though, across various combinations and that’s reflected in the data with it coming out on top in terms of total engagements.


Influencers and hashtags


Hashtags are useful for more than just the car brands, and they’re often a way for influencers posting about car brands to try to join the conversation.

They tend to use more hashtags than the brands themselves, and the most popular among the biggest influencer posts for the period were the ubiquitous #carsofInstagram or, perhaps surprisingly, the simple #car.

Car hashtag content


Instagram is key for auto brands


The raw engagement numbers for auto brands on Instagram mean that it’s simply the place that they have to be. The brands are getting 10-20x the engagement they are getting on Facebook, often with fewer followers, so the message simply has to be that if you’re an auto brand that isn’t using Instagram as a key part of your content strategy, then you need to be.

And here are some tips to help you make the most of it:

  • Post photos. These are less difficult and expensive to make and normally offer a higher engagement anyway. A win-win.
  • Post aspirational content. All of the brands that had the greatest success on Instagram posted their most luxury content the most often. 
  • Use the right hashtags. If you’re going to use hashtags, which isn’t a necessity, make sure you know what you’re doing. #CarsofInstagram is a great one to start with, and you can experiment with different combinations from there.
  • Use social data to learn from your content wins and losses, and to re-engage your audience. Figure out what your followers want, and give it to them

For a big picture of our analysis of auto success across social media, read our full report.

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