With over 400 million daily users and a strong focus on visuals and video, Instagram is the perfect platform for automotive brands to showcase their products.
Instagram’s community of car enthusiasts includes both owners and those who dream about owning their own vehicle. While both groups follow car-related accounts, they are distinct from one another. Owners share their own experiences with other enthusiasts, posting about what their car means to them, while admirers post photos of their dream rides.
From carporn to supercars
The most popular auto-related hashtags are:
#carporn (10.3m posts)
A study of 170,000 posts carried out last year revealed the most common car-related experiences that users tend to share on Instagram. These are
- Buying a new car
- Country driving or off-roading
- Road tripping (showcasing landscapes from windows)
- City driving
- Visits to car shows
41% of Instagrammers also share a photo of their new car after their purchase, according to a study carried out in the US.
@seenthroughglass (235,000 followers) describes his feed as “mixture of car and automotive lifestyle pictures with a personal touch”. He says: “I’m trying to take my followers on my adventures with me. I’m incredibly lucky to go to some amazing places and see some incredible things, so being able to share these moments with my followers is awesome. When you finally get the right shot that includes the car, the setting and somehow translates the feeling to followers, it’s awesome.”
@parkedinparis started his account in March 2015 and, as the name suggests, posts images of cars parked on the streets of Paris. He produces content for “car enthusiasts who also appreciate Paris: its architecture and atmosphere”. He says: “I had seen accounts showcasing the beauty of Paris and awesome car galleries, but my idea was to merge the two.”
Other popular accounts include @petrolicious – the Instagram account for classic car site Petrolicious, Amy Shore (@amyshorephotography), who share images of racecars, luxury vehicles and shoots, Jeremy Heslup (@valkyrfilms), who shoots cars for brands, Kevin McCauley (@capturingthemachine) who posts artful iPhone snaps of cars, and Speedhunters (@speedhunters), a collective of car writers, photographers and drivers with over 1.3m followers.
Engaging with audiences
Jazzmynn Finney, New Media and Social Engagement Specialist at Porsche Cars, says: “Storytelling is paramount: we rarely post about fast cars, or specs. We tell stories about connections to vehicles, giving fans a sneak peak inside our organisation and into what it’s like to have Porsche every day. We shared the story of how one man had a Porsche 356 for nearly 50 years: we’re keeping our community in the loop and showing that people have the same driving experience on the millionth mile as the first. We have 5.4m followers on Instagram and know that social media has the power to affect our marketing goals.”
Mercedes Benz also makes clever use of user-generated content. Natanael Sijanta, Director of Global Marketing Comms at Mercedes Benz, says approximately 95% of the brand’s Instagram content is created by users. Sharing user-generated posts can boost engagement with existing fans of the brand while also attracting new followers.
Mercedes Benz recently used Instagram Stories to post behind-the-scenes content from a shoot, combining videos with images of locations and finished stills. Content worked both with and without sound and footage of the crew driving between locations was used to showcase individual features on Mercedes models.
Stories is a fast-growing medium and a useful one for auto brands. 150 million people use it each day and 70% watch Stories with sound on, so it’s important to think about audio.
Other video tools include Hyperlapse – an app that allows users to create stable timelapse videos for Instagram and Facebook without tripods – and Boomerang, which stitches together bursts of photos to create mini videos that play both forwards and backwards.
The importance of video
A study by IPSOS Mori estimates that 75% of all mobile data traffic will be video by 2020. The number of time spent watching video on Instagram has risen by 150% in the past six months and both Mercedes Benz and Porsche say it is a key part of their Instagram activity. Nearly a third of auto buyers on Instagram believe that video is the best media type for discovering new products.
Volvo recently worked with Grey advertising agency to build Thumb Drive, a targeted video advertising campaign showcasing the XC60’s collision warning system and pedestrian detection sensors. The campaign reached millions of in-market vehicle shoppers and showed how video can be game-ified.
Bentley Motors, meanwhile, worked with Keko London to create the ‘world’s most extraordinary’ car photograph. The image is made up of 53.1bn pixels and aims to highlight the brand’s attention to detail when it comes to making cars. Using NASA-developed technology, people can view the tiniest details of the car design, such as the 5,103 stitches that make up the Winged B embroidery on the headrest, or pan out to see the car from 700 metres away. The carousel format on Instagram proved an effective way to showcase this photograph, so Bentley could use multiple frames to showcase the campaign.
The brands in pole position
Rather than showing off technical details of its F015 concept car, Mercedes Benz chose to highlight the aesthetics of the vehicle and the vision of a future that comes with autonomous driving. They saw a 27pt uplift in brand recall and 5pt in campaign awareness. More on the campaign here.
More than 2.67m watched Land Rover’s Hibernot campaign video. Land Rover saw a 17 point cut through and a 21 point increase in ad recall among men and the over 45s market.
Honda launched the new HR-V to millennials and saw a 7 point lift in ad recall, a 7 point lift in brand favourability and an 18 point lift in brand intent. The brand posted a series of humorous illustrations that were designed to make users do a double-take: posts referenced news events and trending hashtags (remember #catbreading?) and were designed to feel native to the platform.
Insights is part of Inspire, a year-long partnership between Creative Review, Facebook and Instagram showcasing outstanding creative work and emerging talent on both platforms.
More advice and inspiration is also available at Facebook’s Creative Hub. Creative Hub was launched in 2016 to help the creative communities understand mobile marketing. The online tool allows creatives to experiment with content formats – from Instagram video to Facebook Canvas – and produce mock-ups to share with clients and stakeholders. It also showcases successful campaigns created for mobile.