Today the necessity of a strong social media presence is obvious whatever the industry. In the luxury performance automotive sector, all the major companies have a wide variety of activities covering the main platforms. Some even go for more niche or localised channels.
The company that seems to tower above all though is Lamborghini.
The growth through all the platforms is very fluid as each campaign requires a specifically tailored strategy to succeed. This is because not all of them have the same objectives and the same audience, which is ultimately why the results are so different.
While in the west we have the established ‘Notorious 5’, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, there are numerous competitors in the middle that gather huge numbers.
Outside the western market naturally comes China. With its protected internet, the Asian market has a range of local platforms that are popular also abroad, among expat communities and people who have contacts with that part of the world. The major ones are WeChat (Weixin), QQ, Weibo, and especially TikTok (Douyin) to which a separated paragraph is dedicated below.
The companies included in this analysis are Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, McLaren, Pagani, Porsche, and Rolls Royce. In almost every social media platform Lamborghini comes on top either for followers count, engagement rate, or both the metrics. When it does not, it is a close second.
The charts here show the followers and level of engagement for each platform divided by brand.
*Data gathered on April 5th 2020
Porsche comes second overall, with big numbers on every channel but it also releases way more material than others. On YouTube, for instance, Porsche has 2012 videos uploaded and its views count is more than double that of Lamborghini’s which is the second but counts only 518 videos. Right after, Ferrari has also a strong engagement and content production across all its platforms.
Lamborghini’s success can be traced back to a combination of factors. Consistent branding, careful targeting of the right audience, and a good mix of type and volume of shared contents spread over each platform with tailored strategies.
To reflect this strategy as accurately as possible, here are observed Lamborghini’s Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube channels. Facebook, despite being still the largest platform in the west, is not included as it is almost stagnating or with minimal growth for all the manufacturers. The reason for this is that the younger audience is gradually leaving the platform for more modern options. Similarly, Chinese social media are not counted in as they are generally less followed than western ones (i.e. Lamborghini’s channel on Youku, a Chinese YouTube substitute, counts only 4870 followers as of now), and reliable data about them are much harder to source and would require longer.
Right from the start, a distinction can be drawn between the manufacturers based on their activity on each channel. Super-low volume manufacturers such as Pagani, Koenigsegg, and Bugatti have a much smaller amount of published content, which already separates them from the other seven, Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche, with Rolls Royce in the middle between the two groups.
Instagram is by far the fastest-growing channel with the top 3 firms, Lamborghini, Porsche, and Ferrari, growing respectively by 5, 3.5, and 3.6 million followers over the last 8 months according to data gathered for my market research for Ferrari.
Here, Lamborghini maintains the engagement through a communication specifically directed at a young audience, helped by the distinctive and futuristic looks of its cars for which the brand has distinguished itself since the 1980s. Its communication is based as well on performance, technological innovation, and forward vision, with electric and hybrid models and unique partnerships such as the one with Nasa. The majority of other brands instead, along with the racing heritage that all share to some extent, are more focused on the luxury side.
Also, while the frequency of posts, relatively similar to that of its competitors does not seem to affect the channels' growth, the higher use of video content does. Lamborghini and Porsche enjoy the largest increase in following in absolute terms over the past 6 months and 15% of their posts are videos.
The rest of the group mentioned above averages only 5% instead. The importance of video content is confirmed as well by McLaren, which shares similar values. Despite starting from a much smaller base, it has over 20% of video content in the past 6 months and its channel has the fastest relative growth, with 21% increase since August 2019, followed by Lamborghini at 19.2 and Ferrari slightly below.
On YouTube, Lamborghini is the second luxury performance automaker to open a channel in 2005, only one month after Porsche. Here, its message is consistent with the one on other platforms, but there are a few examples that shine above the rest.
The two most successful videos ever published on Lamborghini’s channel, counting 14.1 and 6.8 million views each, have been both uploaded around Christmas (2018 and 2019) and the protagonist is always a child accompanied by a parent and dreaming about a Lamborghini car. Both the videos also end with the tagline ‘Lamborghini is for Real Lovers’. Exactly at the right time of the year, the company plays on the values of family and kindness, temporarily ‘lowering’ its luxury status and becoming more approachable while maintaining the exclusivity of a dream brand.
Every manufacturer brings brilliant examples of communication through video, but they are all shot around the performance capabilities of their cars or the driving experience, like Porsche’s ‘The Heist’, 20 million views, or Bugatti’s ‘0-400-0’, the most viewed of all with 40 million. While Lamborghini manages well in this field too though, none of the other is as successful (at least so far) in using just the brand’s value and meaning for its fans.
On LinkedIn, the company of Sant’Agata Bolognese, again, manages to achieve the highest engagement rate as the platform itself transitions from a work-only related environment toward a content marketing one. This time, differently from to its competitors in the same space, Lamborghini uses marketing material showcasing technical capabilities and achievements more aggressively. As on other websites, this kind of post, which attracts more engagement than average, is then mixed with news and business updates which work especially well on LinkedIn, and attract not only people professionally interested in the company, but other users landed on this platform.
The platform based on short videos that has exploded in 2018 after its merger with musical.ly is arguably the most popular for the younger audience right now. That same young audience that becomes fan of these brands by enjoying video games to which manufacturers now pay much attention, as observed in my previous article.
As of now, it is understandable why none of the companies analysed has an official channel on it, the reason arguably being the mostly uncontrolled user base (the only luxury car manufacturer present right now is Mercedes). Big brands, thus, might not want to be associated with this application and see their videos mixed with offensive, derogatory or illegal content. Especially as the feed, completely managed by AI, doesn’t leave selection choice to the user by showing a single video at a time.
Numerous controversies also surround the growth of the app toward an attractive reality for advertisers, suited for serious content. From personal data protection concerns regarding the parent company ByteDance, to criticism over the censorship of contents filtered just according to wealth or exterior looks of the people involved.
Nonetheless, while the app might not be the right fit at the moment, it is worth keeping an eye on, as it could soon become the next big opportunity, particularly with its format, the vertical video, that is born just for mobile, where the majority of online content is consumed every day.
*EDIT: on November 2nd, 2020, Lamborghini announced the opening of its official TikTok Channel despite some controversies still affecting the platform reputation. It is evident though, the effort to improve it, as other important deals have been struck by the platform recently.
Overall, Lamborghini has the largest presence online, which is gathered mainly through its main channels. Other companies though have large ‘side-profiles’, like Ferrari and McLaren F1 team’s pages that outpace Lamborghini Squadra Corse racing division one.
The Bull’s house is leveraging the right mix with the right message directed at the right audience. It is also doing so by standing ahead of the curve and diversifying. Just a few weeks ago it announced an official Telegram channel. By doing so, it gains a further opportunity to promote the brand against competitors that have not opened to it yet.
All the companies in this niche have the ability to properly convey their brand’s value and desirability through diverse means. Lamborghini though has cracked the code to engage with its online audience at a deeper and more effective level than anyone else.
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