Although it’s certainly not all about the numbers, looking at brand following audiences is arguably a good place to start a discussion about Social Media and automotive digital marketing. Socialbakers provide us with a great tool to analyse such statistics, here displaying brand Facebook followers for UK brand pages.
Facebook Top 10: Bentley is strangely included twice, so the second entry has been excluded.
There is one caveat to the above, relating to Bentley and McLaren. Both of these are British car brands, so rather than being ‘UK’ pages, they are in fact global brand pages, based in the UK. Aston Martin is another example; although not included on Socialbakers’ list, their global Facebook page has attracted 3.7m likes. Perhaps more pertinent therefore, would be the ‘Local Fans’ figure, which only counts those fans based within the UK. Here we can see that Volkswagen are the clear leaders, followed by the oft-warring German giants, Audi and BMW.
So, let’s take a look a closer look at some social offerings, in particular, the BMW UK Facebook page. The first good point here is that there are regular updates from the team at BMW, at least once per day. Keeping your audience engaged with new content is vital when planning and implementing social media, so it’s good to see updates with such regularity. However, content needs to be relevant and interesting to be of value – try and look through the eyes of your followers (and potential customers) when considering content. You could even consider asking someone not directly involved with the business to take a look (with unbiased eyes), and offer their suggestions.
One criticism I’d have with BMW’s page is the use of ‘Apps’. Facebook allows companies to build their own apps to use on their pages, for a variety of purposes as they see fit. Apps sit in an app ‘tray’ near the top of a company Facebook page, with the first four ‘primary’ apps being displayed on the Facebook landing page. Common uses for apps include games and competitions, amongst others, which often provide a great way of integrating a valuable data capture element into your social media presence.
Average Apps: Some of BMW’s Facebook apps are a tad questionable.
I’d suggest that, in this case, BMW aren’t really leveraging their Apps to their full potential. We find included two individual ‘car configurators’. While the apps themselves aren’t a negative experience, it is strange that only these two models are included – this strikes me as being fairly disjointed decision; why not integrate functionality for the entire range?
Alongside this, there also appears to be a few apps, such as ‘House Rules’ and ‘Goodwood Festival’, which are completely redundant. Sorting these out would take relatively little effort so, for me, this removes the polish from an otherwise strong page.
Now, let’s touch upon Twitter. Car brands in particular, can find themselves particularly exposed on social media channels to the wrath of disgruntled customers. The problem is in the business model; when you are selling a product through a network of franchised dealerships, the jurisdiction you have over those dealerships is, to a point, limited. Customers (quite rightly) are unlikely to see the distinction between being angry with a car dealership and being angry with a car brand, so perhaps misdirected vents are inevitable.
It’s good to see therefore that, via their Twitter presence, both Ford and Volkswagen have been proactive in tackling this problem, using dedicated social media customer service channels. Alongside their regular twitter feeds, the company’s maintain the ‘@FordService_UK’ and ‘@VWUKHelp’ handles. Many of you will have heard about the British Airways twitter debacle, when a frustrated customer used promoted tweets to spread his disdain for the company last year. Unsurprisingly, this was a wake-up for many equally reputable brands; we need to integrate some level of customer service with social media.
Automotive companies should take heed of the actions of Volkswagen and Ford and strategically implement their own Social Media customer service plans. Whether offering a fully integrated social media customer service operation, or something up to that, one thing is for sure; customer queries via social media simply can’t be ignored as part of the automotive digital marketing strategy.
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