I've been tracking Facebook automotive fans since November 2009 and have never missed a month of data until last month. Unfortunately my early May was extremely busy and I overlooked capturing Facebook fan numbers that month. What is here is fan growth for the months of April and May 2011 combined.
Let’s get to what happened in April and May for automotive brands on Facebook. MINI had the strongest growth over the past 60 days. MINI has been activating user participation with their simple, but elegant idea of “Getting Billboarded” where fans
were able to show their image on a MINI billboard in Berlin. Fans were given the opportunity to share their image from Facebook and those in Berlin were given a photo booth to shoot a picture that would appear on a real billboard. It was a great way to create out of home media with social media. Plus participants were able to save their billboards as images that they could share or use as Facebook profile pictures, but they weren't doing this to only engage but rather to win their very own MINI car.
MINI is also activating their global fan base as a lot of its fans are coming from many countries. This is creating some significant separation on this analysis as brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche are also all activating their global fan base and that is why they are growing at such a stride compared to brands with less of a global impact. Plus all of these brands are aspirational, which helps organic growth dramatically on Facebook, since people fan luxury, high social value brands.
The other brand with some significant growth is Mazda. It’s an interesting time to see some big growth from Mazda since they do not have a vehicle launch during this time.
Mazda is doing their best to increase engagement with their fans and are leveraging their other social properties on the Facebook fan page. They added YouTube and Flickr tabs and are actively promoting content through wall posts. They have also implemented a #MiataMonday idea that asks open questions to their fans.
Mazda is also doing a “Flickr Photo Spotlight” where they are actively looking for Mazda photos on Flickr and then asking photographers to join a Mazda photo Owners Group. Then they are choosing photos to feature on the Mazda Facebook fan page. See the image at left showing one such engagement from Mazda with a Flickr user. This is a great example of showcasing owner enthusiasm and it also brings some fame from the brand to the owner and does it in a simple, respectful way. Bravo to Mazda for being creative in how they leverage multiple social media channels.
One quick thought...
Most automotive ads I’m seeing on Facebook seem to be driving less and less to the brand’s fan page. Most automotive ad buys on the site are sending people to the brand’s website. This makes me wonder if brands are not seeing significant value in growing fans and instead are finding value in Facebook’s ability to segment ad buys by consumer interests and bringing people to brand pages where there is abundantly more information about the products than the brand’s Facebook fan experience.
We are all learning what works and does not work so well on Facebook. After seeing massive ad buys the past couple years from automotive brands spending media to grow fans and now not seeing that behavior; it causes one to wonder if fan growth is not THE metric of success as it once was, that said this blog will still track it to see how a brand’s audience grows.