WHY THE VISUAL WEB IS PERFECT
FOR AUTO BRANDS
WHAT’S WORKING ON INSTAGRAM AND PINTEREST,
WHAT ISN’T, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION
ADDING CONTEXT TO YOUR CONTENT WITH
HASHTAGS AND PIN DESCRIPTIONS
CROSSING THE FINISH LINE
ESTABLISHING, MEASURING AND ACHIEVING
YOUR GOALS ON THE VISUAL WEB
Here’s a stat that might surprise you: every one of the brands behind the top 10 selling cars of
2013 has an Instagram account. This is because in addition to being the perfect 21st century car
showrooms, visual networks like Pinterest and Instagram offer auto brands higher levels of audience
engagement than any other social platform. For automakers, engagement means sales, as a study by
PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that up to 15 percent of social leads result in test drives,
and that only 67 social leads are needed to sell a car.
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It’s easy to understand why car brands do so well on these networks; they are
visual, mood-elevating, aspirational and inspirational, and those exact same
adjectives also describe cars. Cars aren’t just a method of transportation; they are
portals to a broader world, members of the family, objects of desire, and stunning
works of art.
In short, cars are a major passion for a lot of people. And passion is what Pinterest
and Instagram are all about; these networks are unique in that users follow others
and consume content primarily based on interests, not personal relationships.
The car brands that are seeing the most success on Instagram and Pinterest
tap into those passions with powerful visual storytelling, using images of their
cars to engage the huge community of gearheads on these networks.
Instagram in particular seems to be tailor made for auto brands.
Auto marketers have identified Instagram as an especially effective
tool for reaching younger audiences, and in 2014 carmakers grew
their audiences on the network by an average of 152 percent.
After Instagram, Pinterest generates the second highest level of
engagement for car brands, outstripping legacy networks like
Facebook and Twitter.
INSTAGRAMMERS LOVE COOL
CARS, EXOTIC TRAVEL, AND
CELEBRITIES; ASTON MARTIN
CAPTURED ALL THREE WITH THIS
POST OF THEIR LEGENDARY DB5,
WHICH STARRED IN SEVERAL
JAMES BOND FILMS
IN 2014 CARMAKERS
GREW THEIR INSTAGRAM
AUDIENCES BY AN
AVERAGE OF 152 PERCENT
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Luxury marques like Audi, Bugatti and BMW, who regularly
post beautiful pictures of their gorgeous cars in action shots
and exotic locations, do very well on the platform. In fact,
BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini and Porsche are the
top 5 most popular car makers on Instagram, which should
hardly be surprising considering sports cars make for
pretty spectacular eye candy.
Instagram has become a go-to destination for
car enthusiasts to find content, a digital car show
where automakers showcase their latest models,
tuners display their wildest creations, aftermarket
part companies hawk their wares, and automotive
photography takes center stage.
PARKED NEXT TO A
WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?
(MORE THAN 20,000
VOLKSWAGEN HAS AN ENTIRE “DRIVER OF THE WEEK” SERIES
DEDICATED TO SHARING COMPELLING, EMOTION-DRIVEN STORIES OF
PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCES WITH THEIR VWS
Luxury marques aren’t the only ones enjoying huge
success on Instagram; Volkswagen, for example, eschews
the glitz and glam of the supercar stables and instead
uses their account to showcase their fans’ passion for
Volkswagen is a perfect example of a car brand using
Instagram for what it’s best at: forming emotional bonds
between your brand and and your audience. Instagram is
a conversation-driven community that gives brands the
opportunity to share their values, passions, and ethos.
Marketing on Instagram is about becoming a conversation
leader, and you have to be careful about how you highlight
your products. Volkswagen features their products in all of
their Instagram posts, but they don’t focus on them. This is
because they recognize that the more you try to hard sell,
the more Instagram audiences will shy away and become
VOLKSWAGEN HAS AN ENTIRE “DRIVER
OF THE WEEK” SERIES DEDICATED
TO SHARING COMPELLING, EMOTION-
DRIVEN STORIES OF PEOPLE’S
EXPERIENCES WITH THEIR VWS
VOLKSWAGEN DOES A GREAT JOB
OF SHOWCASING THE EMOTIONAL
BOND BETWEEN PEOPLE AND
THEIR CARS, AND ARE REWARDED
WITH EXCEPTIONAL LEVELS OF
Audi is another brand that clearly recognizes
this principle. Of course, they post beautiful
pictures of their cars. But what they don’t do
is announce promotions, holiday deals or sales
on Instagram. Instead, the majority of Audi’s
images on Instagram have a very “human”
feel; while there are some professional shots
of exotic cars in fantastic locales, the majority
look like they were taken on phones, by
everyday people. This is because many of
Audi’s Instagram posts were taken by their
Showcasing User-Generated Content is a great
move, as it keeps those users (and others
hoping to get recognized) coming back for
more. That strategy has paid huge dividends
for Audi; by maintaining this “human” feel
and highlighting UGC, they have been able to
drive extraordinary levels of engagement to
their profile. In fact, according to one study,
Audi has the highest engagement level of any
car brand, and even outperform brands like
MTV and Starbucks, which have much larger
audiences on the platform.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW PICTURES SUPERCARS TO DRIVE SERIOUS
ENGAGEMENT ON INSTAGRAM; COMPARED TO AN R8, AUDI’S A3 HATCHBACK MIGHT
SEEM DOWNRIGHT HUMBLE. BUT PAIR IT WITH A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET THAT ONE OF
YOUR FANS CAPTURED, AND YOU HAVE THE KEYS TO A GEARHEAD’S HEART
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Auto brands shouldn’t try and use Instagram as a megaphone to
talk to everyone; they should use it to have intimate conversations
with their fans. That’s what makes brands like Audi and Volkswagen
exceptional. Rather than simply throwing a filter on a picture
of their latest model, they make sure their posts are relevant,
informative and entertaining. And that’s the perfect recipe for
getting your content discovered on Instagram.
VOLVO DOES A FANTASTIC JOB OF USING
INSTAGRAM TO SHARE SPECIFIC REASONS TO
LOVE AND APPRECIATE THEIR CARS, WHICH
CAN RESONATE IN USERS’ MINDS WHEN THEY’RE
MAKING PURCHASING DECISIONS. FOR EXAMPLE,
THEIR “VOLVO SAVED MY LIFE” POSTS GIVE
GRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF THE LEGENDARY SAFETY
OF THEIR VEHICLES, AND THE USER COMMENTS
REFLECT THE SENTIMENTS THAT SUCH POSTS
CAN EVOKE, OFFERING POWERFUL SOCIAL
ENDORSEMENTS OF THEIR BRAND.
THE KEY TAKEAWAY IS THAT
ALMOST ALL AUTO BRANDS ARE ON
INSTAGRAM. TO STAND OUT, YOUR
CONTENT HAS TO BE UNIQUE AND,
MORE IMPORTANTLY, VALUABLE TO
YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.
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Some auto brands are witnessing huge results from Pinterest; for example, Aston Martin is killing
it. They have more than 200,000 followers, almost double their audience on Instagram. BMW and
Audi each have more than a million followers on Instagram, but Pinterest is a much different story.
BMW doesn’t even have a profile, while Audi’s two official accounts (one international, one for the
U.S.A) combined barely break 2,000 followers.
Some might chalk this discrepancy up to a mistaken perception of Pinterest’s user demographics,
but the truth is that Pinterest is one of the few platforms where automakers can enjoy relative
parity male and female engagement, which is just one of the many advantages offered by
Pinterest. Pinterest an extraordinarily powerful e-commerce engine, and interactions on the
network are overwhelmingly positive; people generally Pin things that they love and want to buy,
‘collect’ the available options, and make their purchasing decisions. A Pin on Pinterest can be
viewed as a de-facto endorsement of your products, so even if you don’t sell your cars online the
fact that people are interacting with your content on Pinterest is a great indicator that they intend
to do something about it. That said, success on Pinterest comes from adopting content strategies
specific to that network.
COMPARED TO INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST
IS RELATIVELY NEW GROUND FOR
AUTOMAKERS, AND MANY ARE STILL IN
THE EARLY STAGES OF ADOPTING IT.
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Our research shows that for auto brands, images that feature cars generate the
most engagement. While this might not be a surprise, it’s important to realize that
while a “human” feel works great for car images on Instagram, Pinterest users
favor more “professional” images of cars that typically do not feature people. This
is because on Pinterest, people want to imagine themselves interacting with these
products, rather than someone else. So while a picture of a car with its driver out
in the real world might perform well on Instagram, a better strategy for Pinterest
would be to show that car in more of a “showroom” style setting.
A PERFECT EXAMPLE:
THE FOLLOWING IMAGES OF
HONDA’S ACCORD. BOTH OF
THESE IMAGES COME FROM
THEIR OFFICIAL ACCOUNTS,
BUT WHILE THE INSTAGRAM
PICTURE IS NATURAL, HUMAN,
AND EMOTIONAL IN NATURE,
THE PINTEREST IMAGE IS FAR
MORE ARTISTIC AND “PRODUCT
ARE OF THE SAME
CAR, BUT THE
THE RESULTS, ARE
KEY TAKEAWAY IS
THAT THE IMAGE
OF THE CAR ALONE
THE IMAGE WITH
Another example would be
the following two images of
Honda’s CR-V, both taken
from the same Board.
THIS IMAGE PERFECTLY
POWER OF PINTEREST
AS A NETWORK
DISCOVERED BY A
WHEN STRATEGIZING FOR PINTEREST CONTENT,
AUTOMOTIVE BRANDS SHOULD REMEMBER THE
TWO THINGS THAT PINTEREST IS BEST FOR:
INSPIRATION AND DISCOVERY
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When it comes to great content for discovery of auto
products, let’s go back to Aston Martin. It’s obvious
that they have put a lot of time, energy and thought
into crafting their boards and choosing images that will
perform on Pinterest. They have a board dedicated to
their cars in weddings, and boards for each model of
car in their lineup.
This is another key advantage of Pinterest for car
makers; on Instagram, all the images of your different
makes and models are usually hosted under the same
account. Pinterest on the other hand allows you to use
boards as specific marketing channels for individual
types of cars.
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The second piece of the Pinterest
puzzle is curating inspirational content.
Diversity is key for a well-rounded,
engaging Pinterest profile, and you
can be pretty open with what kind of
content you post to your profile. This
means auto brands don’t have to only
feature images of cars, but should
include content that appeals to Pinners
in general. Ideas could include gas
saving tips, car care ideas, or roadtrip
Even if these “lifestyle” Pins don’t
generate as much engagement as
product images on a per-Pin basis,
including them broadens your
reach and establishes your brand
as a destination for people to draw
AUTOZONE HAS GREAT
EXAMPLES OF CAR-RELATED
CONTENT THAT APPEALS TO
BROAD PINTEREST AUDIENCES,
NOT JUST AVID AUTO FANS
Generally, showing cars on Instagram with a “human feel,” is more effective than standard
catalog images, and these types of images generate the most engagement.
Based on a study of hundreds of Pins, our research shows that it’s best to show cars
without people in the picture on Pinterest.
For inspiration on photo creatives, keep an eye on what other popular brands are doing and take that into consideration for your
own content. Pay attention to lighting, angles, stages and setting; if it’s working for them, it’ll probably work for you.
Auto brands are part of one of the most active content categories on the Visual Web. People will
naturally be discussing and posting about their cars, and while this can be a great thing it’s essential
to engage with and participate in these conversations in the right way.
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These conversations are built around hashtags, but a lot of
auto brands don’t capitalize on the potential of a good hashtag
strategy. In fact, our research shows that 73% of brands don’t
follow best hashtag practices. By opting out, these brands are
missing a massive opportunity to engage in, and more
importantly lead these conversations.
WITH MORE THAN 200M
INSTAGRAM IS A MAJOR
CONVERSATION HUB WHERE
PEOPLE ARE ACTIVELY HAVING
CONVERSATIONS ABOUT YOUR
BMW DOES A GREAT JOB
HARNESSING HASHTAGS WITH
THEIR INSTAGRAM POSTS
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You definitely want to know how your brand is fitting into these
conversations, and engage in them whenever possible. There are two
ways to monitor brand mentions:
So how can you best harness hashtags? For starters, add
seven hashtags to each of your posts; doing so can lead to
23% more likes. A good mix would be your brand’s name,
a hashtag that your brand creates, and 3-5 “community”
hashtags. Just beware that adding more than seven
hashtags leads to a dramatic downturn in the number of
likes, as people can view that as spam.
PIQORA’S DASHBOARD ALLOWS
YOU TO TRACK HASHTAG METRICS
SUCH AS UNIQUE USERS, POTENTIAL
IMPRESSIONS, PHOTOS POSTED TO
HASHTAGS, LIKES, AND COMMENTS
1. BY TRACKING
how Instagram users are tagging your brand in ongoing, natural
conversations Pay attention to the tone of these conversations, and
apply these analyses into your own Instagram strategy.
2. BY ANALYZING
the conversations around hashtags related to your brand, whether
these are official hashtags or those that are tangentially related.
Download our Instagram Hashtag Report for more information.
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After someone looks at your Pin itself, the second thing
will they look at will usually be the description. Having
a detailed, well written description of your products will
make it easy for people to Pin from your site, and will
have a huge payoff when they do. This is because your
description will form not only the Pin’s description on
Pinterest, but also that image’s keywords for search results.
Finally, it’s important to remember that more than 90% of
Pins originate from a website, not from a Pinterest profile.
This makes optimizing your website for Pinterest very
important, so check out our Marketer’s Guide to Pinterest
Website Optimization, which is packed with simple
steps to drive huge increases in referral traffic.
CONTEXT IS CREATED
THROUGH PIN DESCRIPTIONS
YOU MIGHT HAVE ONLY A
FEW SECONDS TO ATTRACT
A PINNER’S ATTENTION. BY
SIMPLY ADDING A PHRASE,
YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY GIVE
THE CONTEXT FOR WHICH
YOUR CONTENT IS INTENDED.
Add descriptions to your Pins that include details like pricing, color, model, fuel economy data, etc.
Tailor your Pin’s descriptions and primary keywords to match Pinterest’s own categories.
The most repinnable descriptions are about 200 characters long.
If you add the word “You,” the Pinner feels like you’re speaking to them.
Incorporate your brand’s slogan in your hashtags. Using up to 7 hashtags can lead to 23% more likes
Instagram is ideal for establishing thought leadership, brand awareness
and recall, while Pinterest is the perfect engine to drive direct response
metrics like sales, clicks, and higher AOV. But regardless of which needle
you want to move, it’s essential to approach Pinterest and Instagram
with a plan.
Posting to Instagram or Pinning to Pinterest just for the sake of having a
presence on these networks is a surefire way to be disappointed by the
results. You’ll need a clearly defined and established set of goals, and
metrics to compare these to in order to track performance and make
adjustments as needed.
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A successful Instagram strategy is driven by on-platform
engagement. Brands can systematize and amplify
engagement by monitoring the following KPIs.
LOOK FOR SYSTEMATIC GROWTH OVER
TIME IN ADDITION TO DAILY SPIKES,
WHICH CAN BE THE RESULT OF SPECIFIC
CAMPAIGNS OR HIGHLY ENGAGING POSTS
1. COMMENTS AND LIKES
Comment counts reflect your brand’s ability to inspire your audience, while
likes provide insight into your audience’s engagement level. While simply
looking at these numbers is important, you should take a close look at
what your audiences are saying in the comments. Comments shouldn’t be
one sided; they are a fantastic opportunity to engage with your fans and
build valuable relationships with brand advocates, and Piqora’s Instagram
Conversation Manager can help you manage these conversations on a
2. NEW FOLLOWER GROWTH
An expanding follower-base indicates growth in your brand presence and
influence. It also indicates that your content strategy is effective, appealing,
and engaging. Pay attention to large spikes in follower growth, as they can
indicate that certain images are particularly effective, so you can learn from
those images and iterate off of best practices.
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Pinterest is a network built on intent.
If people are engaging with your content, odds are
they have strong intent to act on that. If a lot of
people are Pinning and repinning your products,
that shows virality, and that people have your
products in mind for their purchasing decisions.
Sr. Marketing Manager
Marketers who understand this will focus on creating and sharing content that helps foster intent and makes it easier
for their fans to take action. For example, a great way for a car brand to measure intent is to look at repins.
Since many auto brands don’t have a direct to consumer E-Commerce component, direct ROI
measurement can be difficult. However, Pinterest can still be a powerful tool for these brands.
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Instagram photo contests provide a fast track to increasing brand
visibility on Instagram, while Pinterest promotions are a great way
to drive engagement on your Pins, traffic to your Pinterest profile or
website, and identify brand advocates and influencers. Both can be
powerful audience building tools, and are an excellent way to migrate
your existing followers over from other platforms like Twitter and
Finally, Instagram is teeming with original, highly creative user-
generated content of cars, and photo contests are a phenomenal
way for auto brands brands to source UGC from their fans. For more
information, check out our in-depth guides to Pinterest Promotions
and Instagram Photo Contests.
Instagram Photo Contests and Pinterest Promotions can be
a powerful accelerator for auto marketers to turbocharge
your presence on these networks.
A WORD ABOUT
THE POWER OF
LEXUS EVEN LEVERAGED AN
INSTAGRAM PROMOTION TO INCLUDE
THEIR 100K+ FANS IN THE DESIGN OF A
CUSTOM RC-F SPORTS CAR.
Evaluate Instagram comments from a qualitative as well as a quantitative perspective; they can be great feedback on how your
content is resonating with your audience. Piqora’s analytics platform can help you identify industry-wide trends and interpret how
well your content is performing, both individually and compared to the other brands in your vertical.
On Instagram, look for variance in ‘likes’ between your posts to see what
your followers are and aren’t responding to.
Engagement is an indicator of intent on Pinterest, so tracking the content that people are interacting
with most and iterating off of those learnings is a fast track to success.
EVEN IF YOUR
Every day, millions of people turn to Pinterest and Instagram to check out the latest news, cars,
and trends from the automotive industry. And here’s another truth that automakers should
understand: more than 90% of Pins originate from websites, not from Pinterest profiles. So even
if your brand isn’t officially on Pinterest, your content certainly is. As we mentioned before,
BMW has more than a million followers on Instagram, but they don’t have an official Pinterest
profile. The story doesn’t end there though, because a quick Pinterest search reveals thousands
of images devoted to their cars.
WHY CAR BRANDS ARE FLOCKING TO THE
VISUAL WEB, AND WHY YOU SHOULD TOO
If you are proactive in engaging in these conversations,
these networks offer golden opportunities to foster
meaningful, positive relationships with your fans and
followers. And for auto brands that provide their fans
with real, valuable content, Instagram and Pinterest can
be game changers, driving unprecedented levels
of audience engagement.
– Piqora Team
The data and techniques discussed here are just a small portion of the resources
available from Piqora, so if you’d like to learn more go to www.piqora.com and
request a demo to learn how to take your visual marketing strategies to the next level.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE REQUEST A DEMO