Bill Hartzer

Luxury Car Brands Not Taking Full Advantage of Social Media

Porsche had the highest community rating in the Community Index with a score of 5,448, followed by BMW at 3,681 and Audi at 3,612

MH Group Communications and Forum Strategies & Communications have released a new study called “Luxury Auto Brands and their Presence in Social Media” that is a comprehensive analysis of luxury auto brands and their presence within social networks. According to the results of the study, German automakers dominate the luxury auto business category, while Japanese and American brands are largely absent and unimpressive within social media.

The study used the MH Group Communications Community Index and Conversation Index measurement methodologies to determine the size and activity level of communities around specific auto brands across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

What’s interesting is that the study shows 9 luxury car brands: These rankings are based on their engagement in social networks:

1. BMW
2. Porsche
3. Audi
4. Mercedes
5. Cadillac
6. Lexus
7. Acura
8. Infiniti
9. Lincoln

MH Group Communications says that “Porsche had the highest community rating in the Community Index with a score of 5,448, followed by BMW at 3,681 and Audi at 3,612. In the Conversation Index measurement, BMW held a sizeable lead over competitors with a conversation rating of 6,164 for the period studied.

However, the study also concluded that the industry has yet to tap the full potential of social media by utilizing an integrated and holistic approach, and are focusing their efforts on YouTube and Facebook rather than the full spectrum of social media platforms where benefits could be gained.”

The study revealed that social media conversations around luxury auto brands focused on four key topics, each of which offer specific challenges/opportunities:

Here are some other interesting facts brought out in the study:
Admiration: The luxury auto sector enjoys a privileged admiration consumers express for most luxury brands. Being part of an “exclusive” club, these owners and fans err on the side of adoration when discussing their vehicles. Challenge: Where is the tipping point, when the club no longer feels so exclusive because of the social media involvement of everyday consumers?

Sales and Deals: The auto industry’s huge investments into e-commerce and the dealer-based, decentralized sales network make deal talk the dominant topic of social media conversation. Challenge: Brand management in this environment is a challenge, given that the community drives the conversation, rather than the brand, in contrast to pre-social media days, when sales messaging was focused around brand web sites.

Questions about Features, Service, Availability: Social media are a powerful tool for brands to monitor questions about their vehicles and address them directly and immediately. Opportunity: This should be viewed as an opportunity to extend a brand’s customer service commitment, rather than just treat social media as a marketing tool.

News and Vehicle Announcements: There is a virtuous cycle of amplification among these brands, auto bloggers and social media networks, in which news is shared by the brands with influential bloggers, reposted or tweeted within social networks by readers of those blogs, and further echoed within smaller SM groups. Opportunity: Links to blog posts, rather than traditional media, are shared most often by consumers.

MH Group Communications and Forum Strategies & Communications partnered to perform this study because of their shared extensive experience and interest in the auto industry and social media. The top-selling luxury auto brands and luxury brands owned by major global automakers, including Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lincoln, Lexus, Mercedes and Porsche were studied to assess their level of involvement and success in using social media. Researchers examined social media activity during August 2009 by the brands, as well as activity about the brands initiated by consumers, dealers or others.

Update: Links in this post have been removed, as they weren’t working at last check. November 16, 2014.

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