3 Things You Can Learn From Auto Brands in India on Instagram

The report takes a look at top auto brands’ performance in India on Instagram. The picture oriented platform has managed to play multi functional role for auto brands.

For this analysis, I looked at the following car makers in India on Instagram. The brands I looked at were as follows:

BMW India

Land Rover India

Mercedes-Benz India

Zest – Tata Motors

Ford India

Honda India

Hyundai India

Skoda India

The first thing I noticed was that there are so many big names missing on Instagram. I know that Maruti-Suzuki, Toyota, Tata Nano, Volkswagen, Audi and Mahindra do a good job on other social networks so was surprised to see them missing from Instagram. Even the major bike brands like Bajaj, Hero and TVS were missing.

With organic reach not being throttled and engagement many times higher on Instagram than on other platforms, auto brands that are not currently publishing content on this social network are missing out on connecting with a highly engaged audience.


I’m personally not a big fan of touting follower numbers when it comes to social media analysis but in this case I had to make an exception. Just look at how well Hyundai India is doing on Instagram! They are killing it with 80% follower growth in a month and command five times the follower base of other auto brands.

These kinds of numbers deserve to be investigated further (are they indulging in buying followers?) and I have done so towards the end of this article.


Posts and Engagement

Posting more and more and more isn’t always the best way to get higher engagement – unless of course your client contract promises that you’ll get a certain number of interactions each month, in which case, post away my friend! Unmetric uses an Engagement Score which factors in the number of followers a brand has to create a benchmarkable score between 1 – 1000. This means we can quickly compare how brands are actually doing when one brand has far more followers than another – like Hyundai.

In this case both Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz achieved very high engagement scores. However, they only posted two pieces of content so it’s not really enough to say these brands have an excellent content strategy. On the other hand, Ford India posted 31 times and saw good engagement as a result. If I was a social media analyst, learning what Ford India was doing to generate such good engagement with be high up on my list (and incidentally, available at the bottom of this article).



The jury really is split when it comes to measuring and reporting engagement to your boss or client. One option is to simply go with a number that makes you look best! Counting the number of interactions is a very easy way to measure engagement but it’s skewed by brands that have a very high or very low audience size, not to mention brands that might post frequently.

In that respect, Hyundai India, Ford India and Skoda India are all runaway leaders when it comes to the raw number of interactions.


However, breaking this down to number of interactions per post show that Ford India and Skoda India are perhaps generating so much traction because of the large number of posts that they publish. What this chart does reveal though is that Hyundai India is still the leading brand when it comes to generating engagement on its posts – perhaps a function of its larger follower base compared to the other car brands.



I sometimes feel the judicious use of hashtags by brands on Instagram is a desperate (and vain) attempt to get more eyeballs on their content. I would need to back this up with some research but I don’t think it matters how many hashtags you use, especially in the world of paid social.

The chart below shows the top two hashtags from each auto brand that I analyzed. Ford seems to have nailed its content strategy by publishing highly engaging content around driving concepts (#happydriving) and popular topics (#carsofinstagram). In a similar way, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai’s most popular and engaging hashtags are focused around specific models of their cars.



There has been far too much written about choosing the best filter for getting higher engagement. My personal opinion skews towards believing that if you are selective enough with data you can prove anything. Although it may have some standing when it comes to your personal account, almost all brands choose to ignore Instagram filters.

The most likely reason is that the images need to be edited and polished in Photoshop and don’t require any additional filters. Out of the 87 pieces of Instagram content published by the auto brands in India, 94% used no filter.


Hyundai Racing Ahead

So what is it that’s causing Hyundai’s runaway lead when it comes to followers and engagement? A look back over the last six months shows that it wasn’t always like this. Between June and mid-November, the brand was diligently posting updates every day and earning around 100-250 Likes per post. Follower growth was steady but then everything changed from mid-November.

Beginning from 1st November, the brand ditched its previous strategy of posting one or two updates per day and instead posted a two or three updates per week – often bunched together on the same day. Another interesting thing that happened in November is that the growth rate of followers hit the turbo button. In just 45 days, the number of followers Hyundai India had increased five-fold.

So what caused this increase? Hyundai India didn’t run any contests which are the normal marker for increased growth rates. Instead we can deduce by looking at their reduced posting frequency and higher engagement rates that the brand must have been taking advantage of Instagram’s new advertising options.

One of the best performing posts for Hyundai India during December was this one. It resonated well with the community, many of whom commented that they were also owners of this car.


Ford India’s Inclusive Content Strategy

Ford India turns to its community to boost its engagement and supplement its own content production. It shares photos from the Instagram community which feature the Ford cars. The most engaging post was of a Ford Ecosport (is it a mini-SUV or a crossover?) at the top of Khardung La, the world’s highest motorable road.

In addition to user generated content, Ford India sprinkles in plenty of engagement orientated posts which literally tell the follower what they want them to do. These kinds of posts also help drive up the engagement for the car maker.


For me there are three takeaways from this analysis:

  1. Auto brands in India must include Instagram as part of their social media strategy. The ability to generate higher organic engagement is the perfect antidote to Facebook’s ever decreasing reach.
  2. You can reduce your workload significantly by publishing several posts at once and then promoting them to generate reach. With this approach it doesn’t matter when you publish, you are paying for reach. Additionally, you don’t need to constantly source new ideas for content to publish.
  3. Involve your users! Reduce your work even further by including user generated content in your strategy. You’ll get plenty of submissions from your followers and you might have the opportunity to cherry pick some great stories of customers using your product!


This report was compiled using Unmetric. The time period analyzed was between 1st December – 31st December, 2015 unless otherwise noted.