Mercedes first? – The World’s Largest Automotive Study on Instagram

The automotive sector is one of the world’s largest industries and an ever evolving market. We are always curious about the different approaches car brands use to perform excellently on social media. In this study, we examined: Which brand has the largest amount of followers? Who attracts the most loyal and engaged audience? Which brand’s content is the hottest? And which one is the latest hype in the automotive universe?

The study was conducted from April 26 to May 24, 2017. In this time frame, we analyzed:

  • 234 hashtags
  • 890 car accounts
  • 112 brand accounts of 38 automotive brands
  • 4,273 posts

(and our data analysts drank about 54 cups of coffee in the process)

Key Insights

  • German automotive manufacturers combine more than ¾ of the 132M followers considered in this study
  • Highest total follower count: Mercedes (22M)
  • Largest single account: BMW (12M)
  • Highest follower growth (%): Ferrari (12%)
  • Best Metascore: Mercedes, BMW, Lamborghini
  • Highest Efficiency: Tesla, Bugatti, Ferrari
  • Highest Effectivity: Mercedes, BMW, Audi

Automotive study

Automotive Study © InfluencerDB

Our approach

With the help of our data-driven software InfluencerDB, we extracted and examined essential metrics of every automotive brand worldwide in order to showcase the great potential car brands can find in social networks.

We started by identifying all relevant official car brand accounts on Instagram by using 234 hashtags to filter for accounts within our software, as well as searching for brand names directly on Instagram. To limit the results to relevant accounts, we focused on those channels with 100k followers and above.

Of the resulting 890 car accounts, 112 were found to be official brand accounts of 38 automotive brands.

For these channels, we extracted data for a range of four weeks. This data set includes 131,599,539 followers, 4,273 posts, and 276,654 comments.

The results

Follower numbers and follower growth

Mercedes and BMW are by far the car brands with the most followers and also show the largest increase in followers in absolute numbers. With 913,179 followers of Mercedes and 726,306 followers for BMW, the car giants clearly win the race!

A post shared by Mercedes-Benz (@mercedesbenz) on

But will other brands outrun them? We also found out that Ferrari and Alfa Romeo have the highest amount of follower growth in percentages. Thus, the smaller brands show a lot of potential to grow, while the growth rate of large brands decelerates at some point. Nonetheless, it will probably take some time until Mercedes and BMW will have to step down from their metallic throne.

A post shared by Ferrari (@ferrari) on

Posts and Engagement

Our research shows that those brands which published the highest amount of content also received the highest number of likes and comments. Again, Mercedes ranks before BMW regarding post numbers.

With about 50 Million likes and 85,000 comments, Mercedes has the highest engagement of the examined car brands. BMW follows with only half as many likes and 44,000 comments. It is interesting to see that the smaller brands are in close proximity to each other regarding both likes and comments.

A post shared by BMW (@bmw) on

However, while the bigger brands win when examining absolute numbers, the smaller brands score regarding Like Follower Ratio: With a Like Follower Ratio of 3.25%, Alfa Romeo has the highest amount of likes in relation to the amount of followers.

We elaborated on the decrease of engagement with increasing follower numbers in a previous blog post. Thus, it is no surprise that the smaller brands win the race in this section. Tesla’s position supports this theory: With 776 comments per post, the brand ranks first in this category.

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To globally compare the performance of all car brands, our data analysts developed a Metascore. This score is divided into relative (Efficiency) and absolute factors (Effectivity).

  • Efficiency = Relative factors: Like Follower Ratio, relative follower growth, average comments –> these display the hotness/ trendiness of the brand on the market
  • Effectivity = Absolute factors: Absolut follower numbers, absolute follower growth, likes, comments –> these display the dominance of the brand on the market

Based on our Metascore, Mercedes is the most successful automobile brand on Instagram, followed by BMW and Lamborghini.

Regarding efficiency, Tesla takes the win, while Bugatti and Ferrari come in second and third. These brands are currently the hottest on the market.

A post shared by Tesla (@teslamotors) on

Examining effectivity, the big players Mercedes, BMW, and Audi dominate the first ranks.

What do these results mean for automotive brands?

Showcasing new car models is only one of many benefits Instagram offers for automotive brands. An even more valuable one is the opportunity for brands to form emotional bonds to their existing and prospective customers.

Social media makes car brands more approachable for customers and fans of the brand by adding a human touch to a giant company like Mercedes.

Furthermore, a direct interaction and feedback between brand and customer is possible. The brand gets to know their fans better by examining the like and comment behavior of the brand’s followers.

The most relevant factor and an important reason for automotive brands to engage on social media is the increase of brand awareness which is transmitted via social networks. Mercedes, in particular, targets Instagram intensively.

Mercedes has the goal to dominate Instagram. This is becoming increasingly visible,” states Robert Levenhagen, CEO of InfluencerDB.

Background information

The challenges for automotive brands

The dominance of the automotive industry is not only evident by the amount of research regarding new technologies that automotive brands invest in, but also in terms of advertising budget. In Germany, the automobile industry alone spent more than 1.7 billion Euros on advertising in 2015!

But like every other sector, the automotive industry has to keep up with the pace of its environment. With the rapid progress of new media, marketers increasingly face the challenge of having to come up with fresh ideas to make their brands stand out from the crowd as well as exploiting new target groups.

In this context, social media presents unique options for automotive brands to overcome these challenges.

Instagram’s benefits for car brands

Instagram is the social network with the highest amount of interactions and continues to attract even more users every month. Nowadays, the platform is not only applied by private persons to connect and interact with friends but is also highly interesting for companies to get in touch with their existing customers as well as for targeting potential clients and showcasing new products.

For the automotive industry, Instagram is the perfect fit due to its focus on visualization. Being a highly visual product, cars can be staged on Instagram to great effect and a wide audience can be reached that differs from the target group brands reach via traditional forms of media like TV advertising.

For more information regarding this study, please contact our research team:

All data in this article last updated on May 24, 2017.