We may be in the thick of the digital age, but car brands remain some of the most prolific TV ad buyers out there. According to Nielsen Ad Intel, TV is still the largest ad investment for automotive companies. And car brands like Volkswagen, Toyota, and Ram Trucks consistently pepper lists of the top Super Bowl ads – from recent years and of all time.
That’s not to say that automotive brands are blind to the benefits of social marketing. According to the Sprinklr Business Index, brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Falken Tire are launching some of the most engaging social strategies in their industry.
If auto brands want to follow suit and truly succeed on social media, they need to start integrating customer care into their digital platforms. That is, they need to see social as more than a place to repost TV ads and start viewing it as a critical tool for reaching customers with personalized experiences on their favorite platforms.
Here’s how three auto brands use social media.
Tesla has already pulled off one of the greatest car marketing stunts of all time by launching the first car into space. And with some of the most buzzworthy electric cars on the market, it’s no surprise that Tesla is wrapped up in conversations about building the car of the future. But the car of the future needs the customer care strategy of the future – and that means using social media to provide support.
View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth. pic.twitter.com/QljN2VnL1O
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2018
Tesla does just that for an audience of almost 3 million Twitter followers. The auto brand uses the platform to directly respond to customers and potential buyers, and provide helpful information in near-real time.
Take this interaction with an interested buyer wondering where they can charge a Tesla model:
You could charge at superchargers or at work – you can recommend a workplace charging location here https://t.co/anxzDrheDg
— Tesla (@Tesla) July 30, 2018
Tesla also goes the extra mile when responding to customer questions, providing custom video responses to help illustrate an answer, as with this inquiry about the energy-saving power of solar roof tiles:
Great question. We looked into it pic.twitter.com/miaKvnIrQ8
— Tesla (@Tesla) May 17, 2018
Tesla founder and frontman Elon Musk (boasting over 22 million Twitter followers) even gets in on the social conversation, frequently responding to one-off questions, following up with customers on threads about Tesla products, and holding Q&A sessions to ask people exactly what they want to see in future Tesla vehicles:
What would you love to see in a Tesla pickup truck? I have a few things in mind, but what do you think are small, but important nuances & what would be seriously next level?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 26, 2018
Tesla’s strategy helps prove that social media is the new frontier of customer care. Social not only allows the brand to respond to customer inquiries quickly and efficiently; it also allows every interaction to become an ad, generating multiple retweets and responses that spread helpful information and demonstrate how Tesla cares about its customers.
Customer care isn’t just about answering questions and complaints. It’s also about going above and beyond to nurture and engage your audience. That’s why Subaru is a master of customer care on social media. The auto brand’s social channels are full of customers’ own images that highlight their unique voices and experiences.
A post shared by Subaru of America (@subaru_usa) on Jul 27, 2018 at 12:07pm PDT
Subaru knows that social media is the platform of the people – and brands have an opportunity to help make those people’s voices heard. It even posts calls for customers to submit their Subaru photos for a chance to have them featured:
Let us see in the comments! 👀 📸
Over on Twitter, Subaru continues to spread the love by congratulating new buyers on their vehicles:
Congrats on your new car, Nick!
— Subaru (@subaru_usa) July 31, 2018
And selecting the #SubaruFanOfTheMonth:
— Subaru (@subaru_usa) July 20, 2018
One look at Subaru’s social pages shows that customer care isn’t the same as customer support. It goes beyond doing damage control and opens doors to building positive, loyal relationships with customers. And there’s no better place to build those relationships than on the very social platforms where customers are already sharing their images and experiences.
Ford is so committed to social care that the auto brand even created its own website for highlighting social posts. The site collects posts from across Ford’s social channels as well as posts from customers.
In addition to the social posts, visitors can read informative articles like “How The ‘Internet of Things’ Will Affect Your Ford” and “How Ford Can Shorten Your Commute Time.” They can also search this content by vehicle or topic such as “Smart Technology,” “Innovation,” and “Entertainment System.”
Those that want to join the conversation can easily create their own post by joining Ford Social. Membership provides access to inside information like prototypes and launch dates as well as a network of passionate fans and Ford owners. For instance, member Aaron Clontz submitted a design pitch for creating automatic sun shades on the front and back car windows.
Ford knows that no one understands its products better than its current customers. And they should have a direct line of communication not only with Ford team members but also with each other. This way, they can share ideas, provide feedback, and build better experiences for the entire Ford community.
Customer care has evolved beyond just call centers and support emails. While those channels are still important, brands that want to survive in the digital age must also be present on the social platforms where millions of customers are already active.
Leading auto companies know this. They’re committed to responding to requests in real time, creating personalized experiences, and showcasing the people who mean most to their brand: their customers. Most importantly, they know that social media provides an opportunity to give customers what they deserve – one-to-one, human-to-human interactions and care.