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In The Fast Lane: Social Media Marketing for Automotive Brands

Andy4th December 2020

If you’re into your cars, you’ll probably find it hilarious that Caterham® - a car company which hasn’t changed its design in 50 years – has a social marketing team. No really, we do – we’re down with the kids and all that jazz.

The thing is, in the past year we’ve seen a 174% increase in social media mentions, doubled our Instagram audience and have managed to sell nearly 10% of new cars without customers doing test drives.

Now, we aren’t the most popular account, nor the most exciting brand out there, but we do make sure that our social accounts reflect us as best as possible.

So, how exactly do the champions of the old-school continue to capture the hearts and minds of an ever-growing global audience? Well, we’re about to share our top tips and golden rules.

Know your audience

You’ll hear this phrase thrown around a lot, but do you actually know your audience? Think about that for a second. Your audience is more than figures on a spreadsheet. They’re real people!

Try to join car club groups on Facebook which relate to your brand – you’ll find that customers are more open about their experiences, talk about their habits and discuss changes they’d like to see. Think of it like a free survey.

It’s also worth making the effort to speak to people physically at events, to understand why they purchase from you. You can direct them to then check out the website and get in touch so you can help them.

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Note: Are you not only stuck on where to post, but also WHAT to post? Come along to a free social media strategy session where we'll give you inspiration, tool recommendations, and general advice that'll help you get started.

Let creatives be creative

Something we’ve found to work extremely well is to allow artists, photographers and designers do their thing. It really is that simple. We’re not saying to throw your brand standards out the window – but rather to encourage ideas from across the board, and not just your central marketing team.

Sticking to the same potato-print layouts may make your posts recognisable, but (and I’m afraid it’s bad news) they aren’t interesting. Through trying multiple variations, we’ve found that high quality images, with the information in the body of the post, work far better than having text on the image itself. We’ve also found that more unusual posts and videos have driven more people through to the website.

You could try getting the audience involved too! Ask them to submit images in the comments of your Facebook post, or reply to you on Twitter with their favourite car/the best road/good pubs…basically anything that gets them interacting and engaging with what you are posting.

Caterham cars

Timing

You’ve probably guessed by now that there is a lot of trial and error involved when trying to create a successful media post. All audiences are different, so make sure to check back on ContentCal’s blog to understand the perfect times to post.

Over a few weeks, you’ll be able to see when your audience is most active. We find that posting at 8:00 am and 1:00 pm, Monday to Friday, we gain the most engagement. This doesn’t overwhelm the audience, and it seems to give each post an adequate amount of time to gather momentum.

We’ve also seen that (weirdly) we have a lower engagement figure at weekends, which has led us to only posting once on a Saturday or Sunday, and only on Facebook and Twitter.

Brand recognition

If, like Caterham, you have multiple branches to your business – you’ll need to make sure that any graphic-based posts you do create aren’t only recognisable to your brand, but also the department or subject in question.

You’ll want to carry this through to your website and print advertising. Take our offers for example. These always have predominantly green backgrounds, and bold, white text. Our motorsport posts are always greyscale with green accents and text.

Our hire posts have a cartoon-look to them, with the same writing, but in black and white only.
This also applies to photography work – particularly on Instagram. If you’ve elected to use a filter, make sure you stick to using the same filter on all of your images to create a uniform look.

However, we’d recommend just sticking to having the same image across all of your platforms if you can.

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Note: We're helping brands in every industry nail their social media strategy. Come along to a free social media strategy session where we'll give you inspiration, tool recommendations, and general advice that'll help you get started.

Use the data

It’s all well and good looking at data and deciding you’ve had a good week, but you’ll need to look a little deeper into understanding the social content that your audience want to see more of. Make sure to look at your best performing posts too, use those detailed analytics!

Surprisingly, we tend to find that used cars, vehicle photography and user generated content work best for us. It’s when we try to use advert-style artwork that we see a drop in engagement, as audiences aren’t silly – they know you’re trying to sell. Keep the adverts for advertising, and instead make your platform a place that celebrates how good your brand is.

Caterham cars

Have a personality

Obviously, you should be doing your best to retain the 100% message response rate and pointing customers to the right people. This is great, but it’s a private message to a single person. Think about how you come across.

Don’t be scared to respond to comments or poke fun every now and then.

It shows people that there is a living, breathing human behind the social media channels. Offer help where you can, enjoy it, use GIFs, and connect with other manufacturers or businesses for lighthearted fun.

You may even find that a particularly engaged audience will answer questions before you do, making the idea of an online community even more apparent – creating more conversations on your posts.

Organic growth works

Something we’ve always been proud of has been the organic, natural growth of our audience. Rather than big stunts, mad competitions, click-bait articles and paid accounts – we’ve kept it simple.

Our 174,000 strong audience has been building steadily with a dedicated fan base, we’ve only run two adverts in 2020 – one to show off a new car, and the other to demonstrate our Academy Championship.

We’ve continued to sell out our Academy championship every year, as well as meeting our sales targets globally – today, our audience is more powerful than ever. Never underestimate the power of dedicated social media fans.

Check out Caterham’s social media pages and get your own inspiration here.

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Note: Ready to get started? Come along to a free social media strategy session where we'll give you inspiration, tool recommendations, and general advice that'll help you get started.


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