Automotive industry: using Social Media in the automotive sector
In a few years, social networks have established themselves in all sectors, the automotive sector being no exception. The automotive industry must be able to put an offensive and original strategy in order to increase its influence, its name, promote its products and services and form new alliances.
Jean van Ruymbeke is the Marketing, Events and Communications Manager for AUTOMOTOR and has been developing a significant social media presence for the company for more than three years. Through Julian Barrière’s microphone for CM au Sommet, Jean looks back on his career and what sets AUTOMOTOR ahead, leader in its sector in social media.
Julian Barrière: I am Julian and today I welcome Jean van Ruymbeke. Jean is responsible for the communication of AUTOMOTOR, a company which exports spare parts in the automotive sector and present in more than 70 countries. He is an advertising specialist and I found it interesting that he explains to us what he does on a daily basis and what drives him in his job. Industrial sectors are a little enigmatic for the general public, but they are nevertheless very present on social networks. Hello Jean, I saw that AUTOMOTOR was present in 70 countries, so you do work for these 70 countries?
Jean van Ruymbeke: Hi Julian! We are based in France, in Puteaux near Paris, and we export to these 70 countries: so we don’t have 70 offices around the world, but we have been working with these countries for years.
JB: Okay, and what are you currently doing in this business?
JVR: Today I am in charge of developing marketing, events and communication for AUTOMOTOR, specifically for and with Sylvain Abergel, my director. In the communication area, there is of course all the social media aspect that I take care of. We have chosen to internalize everything to have a precise view of what we are doing. I have been working in the industry for several years and for AUTOMOTOR, this is something that drives me, I prefer not to outsource.
JB: Starting from the beginning, I see that you had worked in different agencies?
JVR: Thanks to my studies, I was lucky to be able to do many internships before I started working, my first internship for example was in 2010 at Publicis. From there I chose my schools according to the possibilities of learning in a professional environment, I finally did more than 39 months of internships and work-study programs, in particular at Publicis, Ogilvy and TBWA, in France, in Italy and in Brazil. At the end of my studies, I joined a small digital advertising agency specializing in social networks as an internship to add a useful line to my CV. I ended up staying there for a few years before becoming independent by setting up my agency, and then joining AUTOMOTOR in March 2018.
JB: Industrial companies have more of a reputation for communicating little or not knowing how to do it, how do you manage to interest your target audience on social medias?
JVR: The big difference with B2C is that people in B2B, and in particular people working in the very specific sector of automotive spare parts, have been working there for 20 or 30 years. We make a career in the spare part, nobody stays juste a year or two. They are enthusiasts, people who talk to you about their shock absorber with shining eyes and who can talk about it for two hours to convince you that their shock absorber is better than a competitor’s. And who says passion, says interaction. So by talking about the right topics the right way: you quickly get likes, comments and shares. You just need to be familiar with the technical skills of social networks, especially on LinkedIn and Facebook.
JB: Okay, but how do you diversify your subjects in such a nested market?
JVR: There are actually hundreds of topics, news, it’s just a way to find them and know how to showcase them to present quality content to our audience. This goes from education material about our products, to statistics from our common market, to photos of our teams when we travel in France and abroad.
JB: Talking about that, how do you use these events to promote your business?
JVR: Trade shows are essential events in our business, like Automechanika, Equip Auto and Reed Expositions. We go to major events in the auto parts industry and for me this is a perfect opportunity to communicate. Today we film events every day and post one video per day on our social networks. Today we are the only ones to do so, it allows us to stand out and steal the spotlight on us during the show.
JB: In the end, why do you care so much about social media?
JVR: In our automotive industry, a lot of people love what they do, so if they already know the brand, that’s already a big step for us. We try to get into their heads in a positive way, because we are a positive company. At our small scale, we try new things constantly, always keeping in mind our credo: quality. There are unfortunately a few companies that play with people’s safety, we don’t do that and never will.
JB: I saw that you were particularly present on Facebook with very high results
JVR: We started social networks with Facebook, it is a platform that I had mastered and master for quite a few years, it was a good way to learn and test our digital communications. Today, I don’t know anyone in the industry who has our KPIs. We also work live with Facebook to optimize some campaigns, which helps a lot. In particular, we perform very well on our videos which oscillate between 200,000 and 300,000 views. We are now developing a lot on LinkedIn where our scores are also satisfactory, and from September we are starting new digital ways to increase our presence.
JB: What would you advise a company in the industrial sector to do on social networks?
JVR: I would advise them to use it, because today most companies are not there or have empty pages. I remain convinced that all businesses, small and medium as well as big ones can and should go and promote online. All professionals are now connected, whether on social networks, on search engines, on messaging platforms. There is room for everyone as long as you combine technicality, creativity and patience.
Many car brands now have a large number of social profiles across multiple platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. The biggest car brands on social media very often find themselves launching individual pages for each model, many of which receive many fans and customers.
The rollout of car brands is increasing on Instagram as more companies seek high visibility, consumers and customers. So, advertisements abound on the social network, which has just exceeded 150 million Internet users and is active in early 2014. Through this social network, the automotive sector can derive many benefits such as:
- Focus on the loyalty of Internet users;
- Share an experience induced by their cars and their services;
- Find beauty everywhere to enhance their technology;
- Inspire interaction so that internet users take over the brand;
- Capture other fans:
- Partner with influential Internet users, actors and musicians for more publicity.
Facebook remains the most used social communication channel for car manufacturers. Automotive companies address their community according to a specific typology of content, namely:
- News and announcement of the release of new products;
- Promotional strategy through games and contests;
- Valuation of users and customer relationship: providing feedback to fans is one of the most important missions on the network. Indeed, Internet users wonder about the products and generally go through this network to find answers to their questions. 72% of help requests are answered when they are posted on the Facebook page.
For example, before the Explorer’s unveiling in 2011, Ford and his agency created a Facebook page that gave fans a taste of video interviews with the design team and chief engineer.
Twitter is also considered the essential social network for a good presentation of the automotive industry. The objective on this network will be to find influencers, and public figures for wide visibility. The advantage of Twitter is that it is not “branded”, you can easily get in touch with a user. However, several other social networks are used in the automotive industry. In the automotive sector, community management has two objectives, namely:
- An image objective which is to show Internet users, fans and customers that the manufacturing models remain the best cars, upscale and innovative;
- A sales objective which is to stay on the customer’s shopping list and maintain the first position in terms of sales.
Community management: listening to consumer preferences
Customer service has an essential impact on the automotive business. Several brands use social media as a multi-year marketing tool to improve their customer service operations. But they also use it for sales through social surveillance and data studies.