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Why do auto brands top social media listings?

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Experts predict that India will witness 2.4 crore more cars on the roads this year. As the demand for automobiles soars at a steady rate, automobile marketers are using the social medium aggressively to engage consumers. According to Nielsen’s findings of the Social Media Brand Equity Index, the most frequently occurring brands in the list of top 20 social media brands are auto brands.  Ford, Maruti, Mahindra, Volkswagen, Hyundai and BMW are the auto brands in the list.

The study is based on quantitative factors such as unique authors, buzz levels and following and qualitative factors such as presence and sentiment. According to Farshad Family, Managing Director, Nielsen Media, India, two reasons can be attributed to the trend of automobile brands appearing frequently in the list, “Firstly, people love talking about their cars. Secondly, there is an aspirational element attached to automobiles. So, people love talking about the cars they want.”

According to research around 85 per cent people consult relatives and friends before buying a car.  Shashank Srivastava, CMO, Maruti and Suzuki India says, “Cars are a high ticket item. A lot of research and sentiment is involved in the purchase. Nowadays, people do not call relatives or friends to take their opinion; they put polls on social media where they can get strong opinions.”

Maruti has developed separate pages for all its models where it engages with consumers through posts and contests such as ‘live the moment’ contest where consumers could post photographs of them with their cars on a special occasion.  Recently the Facebook page for Maruti’s Ritz crossed the fan base of 10 lakh. “Ritz is not the top selling car for us but it still did very well on social media,” informs Srivastava.

So what makes auto brands consumers’ favourites in the social media space? Auto expert Murad Ali Beg says, “There is a new car launch almost every week. That keeps the excitement level about the industry at peak.” This provides marketers a lot of dope for their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

In the same breath Lutz Kothe, Head of Marketing and PR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Sales India says, “Latest cars and technologies are increasingly becoming topics that people like to share and discuss with each other. Earlier these used to be what was just read in magazines or when one traveled abroad got to see or experience but today these are all available in the country. This creates more interest and enthusiasm amongst the audience to share their experiences, likes and dislikes in the social forums.” Volkswagen launched its twitter campaign called #anything4Jetta last year which became the world’s largest twitter campaign ever undertaken by any company.

Ford, another major player in the auto sector, has taken cues from the fame of reality television and is creating properties that strike a chord with consumers. “Reality TV changed consumer behaviour to a great extent. Recognising the power of ‘reality’ shows, we created campaigns like ‘Swap your drive’ and ‘Discover Smart’,” says Anurag Mehrotra, Vice President, Marketing, Ford India. The selected couples for the ‘Discover Smart’ who drove Ford Figo to different cities in the country could share their journey stories, photos, videos and experiences online on their Facebook, Twitter, Orkut profiles and blogs.

Marketers are using the social media platform not just to establish a connect with consumers but also to take their feedback on their respective products and services. Srivastava says, “Conventional feedback is not as good as the qualitative feedback that we get on social media.”

While consumers are getting a platform to express themselves, marketers are getting a platform to interact with their consumers. A win-win for both parties!

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Jyotsna Sharma

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