Daily Insights

The Ups and Downs of Auto Influencers

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | May 03, 2019

Auto marketing budgets have stagnated as brands reevaluate the effectiveness of their strategies. Though car brands once invested heavily in TV, the industry is now shifting gears. But the path is not without speed bumps. Here’s what brands boosting influencer content on Instagram can expect as they strive to match new customer shopping behaviors.

To measure the sway of car enthusiasts on Instagram, Gartner L2 tracked a panel of roughly 900 influencer handles popular in the automotive space and determined which brands they most often featured. These enthusiasts favored a mixed group of luxury and popular car brands with Ford, Porsche, Dodge, Chevrolet, and Lamborghini being the five most tagged brands. These cars inspire comparable fandom: luxury brands for their obvious aesthetic appeal and high performance, and popular cars for their ubiquity and customizability. Instagram’s car aficionados most frequently mentioned Ford’s brand and model terms, tagging the brand in nearly 8,000 posts during the study period—over four times as many mentions as the average tracked brand.

However, these endorsements should be taken with a grain of salt, considering most of these enthusiasts are brand agnostic. As proud owners of diverse car collections or affiliates of auto sites (e.g., Motor Trend or Autolist), they feature a variety of car brands on their accounts. The average car enthusiast featured seven brands, while other accounts mentioned up to forty, according to Gartner L2’s insight report on the topic. To strengthen engagement and reach new audiences, enthusiasts tag multiple brands within a single caption, regardless of what car appears in the photo. For instance, YouTuber ‘@streetspeed717,’ (277K followers), tags both McLaren and Chevrolet in the captions of his McLaren photos. While this lack of brand loyalty likely hinders the possibility of turning these enthusiasts into devout brand ambassadors, it also lets a larger share of brands benefit from their tags and large follower bases.

Auto brands investing in influencers should keep in mind that doing so can yield higher engagement, but not necessarily drive conversion. Luckily, there is plenty of room to grow on the platform. Swipe Ups and Voting Buttons can spark engagement, steer users to brand sites, and give brands the chance to collect user data and thus curate better content going forward.