Car enthusiast and casual buyers have extensively started using social media to discuss their questions, issues, wants and experiences related to automotive.
Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are increasingly realizing the opportunities that social media present to them, in the form of marketing and publicity.
According to the Brandwatch Report – Automotive (2012), Twitter has been identified as the most widely used social media platform by customers for automotive conversations.
The German automaker, BMW is the second most mentioned car brand in automotive purchasing conversations. It has attracted over 19 million fans on its international Facebook page and entertains its fans through interesting updates.
However, its presence on Twitter still needs to improve as it has only 0.745 million followers. Still for BMW, Twitter feeds seem to do fairly good to have a good connection with its customer queries and mentions.
This observation inspired us to take up a social media audit on Twitter, for BMW.
Target customers of BMW
Through social media, BMW targets people in the age group of 30-50 years, who have a high social status, a succeeding lifestyle, high brand loyalty and customers who prioritize driving pleasure & comfort.
Strategies used by BMW on Twitter
- BMW always directs queries in the form of Twitter feeds to the right channels whenever necessary.
- BMW tweets 2 to 3 times per day, which are mostly done in the mornings. The re-tweets are usually observed in the evenings.
- All tweets ensure that it has a photo, video or link to make it attractive.
- BMW uses twitter mainly for educating customers and is not targeting at hard sales tactics.
- It appreciates the potential with customers and tracks hash tags as well as @mentions so that it could respond to customers whenever necessary.
BMW’s mistakes in twitter
It was observed that a lot of users tweeted undesirable comments about the high price of the BMW cars, using the hash tag #BMWstories. The hash tag was created in order to promote and share videos of stories related to BMW and its customers. But it was not targeted well.
Selection of competitors of BMW on Twitter
We have selected the following car brands as a competition for BMW, after considering its country of origin, the number of followers on twitter and the variety in its product offering.
Though Audi (1.11 million twitter followers) is a clear competition for BMW on twitter, it was not selected as Mercedes Benz had better presence on Twitter with respect to Audi. We also wanted to avoid selecting two competitors from the same country (Germany).
Channels used by BMW & competitors
Mercedes-Benz is the most popular and successful automobile brand on the social web. With around 22 million interactions, the Mercedes-Benz users were the most active automobile fans in this social network.
Seen from the current figures published by social bakers, even in comparison with global non-automobile brands, Mercedes-Benz is in 2nd place with respect to interaction with its Facebook fans.
The purpose of online activities of Mercedez Benz is to regard the kind of customer response from a wide variety of digital channels, as confirmation that the company is taking the right approach.
Target customers of Mercedes Benz
Through social media, Mercedes Benz targets middle aged people who have middle to high-level incomes. The product aims both males and females as the car design considers the preferences of both the genders.
Research on Twitter has however revealed that the biggest part of Mercedes Benz followers are mostly males in the age group of 40-55 years. So the target market strategy is actually a bit different on each platform.
Mercedes Benz’s strategy on Twitter
- Be Relevant – Choosing an angle that the target audience actually cares about.
- Be Genuine – Brand sponsors do not do the activity of spreading news on social media. The pictures that they post are real life journeys.
- Be Stunning – Making sure that the pictures posted stand out.
- Be Smart – The intelligent and careful use of hash tags.
Jaguar is a brand of Jaguar Land Rover, a British multinational car manufacturer headquartered in Whitley, Coventry (England) owned by the Indian company Tata Motors since 2008.
On social media Jaguar posts typical promotion videos, TV commercials, car tests, technological news, comparisons of new models with the old ones, behind the scenes of manufacturing. In general everything focuses more on the technological things concerning the cars.
They post pictures with separate parts of the cars, sometimes even undeveloped projects, comparisons of new models with the old ones etc.
Comparison of the brand reach on social media confirms that the biggest potential and engagement of users appears on Twitter. That’s why Jaguar marketers use mainly this channel to promote the brand.
Target customers of Jaguar
Jaguar targets males in the age group between 25-54 years, with high income and focus on usually men who prefer to buy a car as a 2nd vehicle in the family or as a collection.
On Twitter, it could be seen that the brand is sharpening the focus of its sports car to reach a young audience between 20-40 years.
Jaguar’s strategy on Twitter
- Prompt monitoring of tweets, which ensures reply to questions in posts
- Focusing on celebrity users on social media for marking its class.
- Regular posting frequency of 2-3 per day.
- Good targeting for ensuring favorites and re-tweets.
- Advertisement wars: Using tweets with links of competing Ads, which defeats the intent of other OEM Ads.
Volvo is a Swedish company found in 1927 as Volvo Car Corporation (VCC). Volvo’s intent on social media is to develop a more direct relationship with the end-customer without disrupting the relationship that dealers have with their customers.
Volvo is beginning a transformation from a “B2B-only” model (between VCC and the local dealers) to a “B2B + B2C” model, where some services are provided centrally by Volvo to end customers.
These services use social media, mobility and connectivity to improve customer experience. They also help to bind customers more closely to the global brand, rather than just the local dealer.
For Volvo, interacting on social media is not to sell but to reinforce proximity with existing customers. For example: 70% to 80% of the people who follow the brand on Facebook are Volvo owners and they are there because they love the brand.
Target customers of Volvo
Through social media, Volvo tries to reach bigger families, parents of teenage drivers and men & women above the age of 65.
Volvo’s strategy on social media
- Engaging in conversation – not to control what is said, but to have an open two-way discussion in order to build trust. “If someone says something negative, approach them and talk about it. Don’t try to hide it or lock it” – that’s what Volvo tries to do.
- Creating interest groups to drive targeted traffic to the main Volvo webpage.
- On Twitter, Volvo encourages costumer feedback by directly tweeting at Volvo, to gain consumer insight.
- Customer involvement for Volvo photography competitions and related giveaways.
Lexus is a premium automobile brand created by Toyota in 1989 in Japan. The intention was to create a luxury brand of their company for being able of compete in the American and European markets.
Lexus focuses to determine the optimum methods to influence their users online. They feel that the opinion leaders such as bloggers or tweeters help them to improve their message.
Lexus uses social media to present the brand with an emotional connection to reach a larger target group.
Target customer of Lexus
Lexus has always focused on luxury, so its target market is middle age people with middle to high level of income.
However, since the launch of the NX crossover, they are creating a new campaign with the title – “This is the New Lexus”. The attempt is to arrive to a new and younger audience, by giving a more sportive and informal image of the brand.
Lexus’ strategy on twitter
Campaign Strategy: Lexus always focuses on targeting by means of a campaign.
For example: @LexusInt partnered with digital agency Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Tokyo to create the “Get Up-Close with Twitter + Vine” campaign.
Leading up to and during the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, @LexusInt asked fans to tweet which parts of the cars they wanted to see up close with the unique hashtag #LexusInTokyo. The brand used Promoted Tweets to maximize reach and engage car enthusiasts around the world.
Lexus also uses Mobile application based engagement models and related tweets on twitter.
Content posted on Twitter by BMW & its competitors : Chart
Recommendations for BMW
1. Hash tags must be used with adequate care, especially with reference to future similar campaigns like #BMWstories. The content posted on twitter must be specifically targeted to current or potential customers. This can be done by initially promoting the campaigns only to the known existing BMW customers.
2. BMW should start posting short video tutorial about car features on twitter (like Mercedes & Jaguar). Posts related to reminding past events (like Lexus) and comparing new and old model of cars (like Jaguar) could attract more re-tweets.
3. Encouraging customer engagement by live activities and competitions on Twitter would be a good idea. None of such activities were seen from BMW from all the Twitter post from Jan 2014, till date. Using customer engagement models similar to Lexus (application based) and Volvo (feedback based) would improve the connection with the customers. This would also improve possibilities of re-tweets and reach on Twitter.
4. Avoid creating multiple number of BMW verified pages on Twitter, namely: BMWBLOG, BMW USA, BMW I, BMW Group etc. This scatters the attention received to the main page of BMW.
Note: Charts shown in this report were prepared by the group members, based on the observations from Twitter and other social media platforms.
Project submitted by: Group 2 – New Media
Members: Justyna Wiecek, Orsolya Melinda Fay, Jekaterina Melihova, Jon Pedrosa, Rahul Girish
Students of Erasmus batch (2014-15), VIVES University College, Kortrijk