From the rise of electric vehicles to the development of driverless cars, the auto industry has seen its fair share of disruption in recent times.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought new challenges. It has seen the car buying experience increasingly move into the digital space. Now, as we enter a new year, there is plenty to be excited about as consumers take to Twitter in their droves to discover, discuss and decide upon one of life's most significant purchases – which car will take them into 2021?
Revving up the conversation
There has been steady growth in automotive conversations on Twitter, with 55 million car-related Tweets in the second half of 2020 alone.1 Some of the top brand mentions include significant players; from @Tesla, @Mercedes Benz and @BMW, to @Honda and @Toyota.2 These conversations have a male skew with 62% generated by male authors and 57% being under the age of 35.3
Twitter’s auto audience is made up of those from all walks of life – from creative types, to sports fans, business owners and parents. Besides auto topics, they are likely to Tweet about finance, gaming, entertainment and travel.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has negatively impacted the auto industry, with 23% of people on Twitter delaying car purchasing decisions in 2020. However, there are signs of uplift in 2021. Within the first six months of the year, 17% of people on Twitter plan to purchase a car.4 That’s compared to 12% of people not on Twitter.5 Of those who used Twitter to research a vehicle, 83% said it influenced their purchase decision – and in the UK they’re 53% more likely to tell their friends compared to general internet users.6
Consumers are ready for an electric gear change
Electric vehicles have lit up conversations across the Twittersphere as they shake up the traditional automotive industry and drive us into greener futures. Consumer sentiment is clear as they research, share and discuss the pros and cons. A 2020 Twitter study revealed that 7 in 10 UK Twitter users believe electric cars will soon become the norm, despite only 9% currently owning one.7 However, opinions on the government’s plan to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035 are divided: 47% agree with the move, while 32% are against it.8
Overall, attitudes are largely positive. 95% of Twitter users see at least one benefit to owning an electric vehicle. Leading those benefits is the environment (71%), followed by reduced noise levels (61%) and improved public health (58%).9 However, sentiment highlights a trade-off when it comes to cost benefits. While 47% believe electric vehicles are cheaper to run than traditional cars, only 3% think they’re more affordable.10
Meanwhile, other drawbacks are evident from Twitter conversation. As many as 70% are concerned by the lack of charging stations and 63% about recharge times.11 For 76%, these issues mean they would not consider purchasing until the charging infrastructure becomes more convenient.11
Topping the list of brands consumers would consider buying is Tesla with 29% of Twitter users saying they would look to the brand if buying an electric vehicle.12 Still, other established manufacturers like BMW, Audi and VW are not far behind.
How car brands are connecting on Twitter
With a wealth of conversations on Twitter, there are many opportunities for car brands to tap consumer interest. This year three brands stood out, executing clever campaigns that take full advantage of Twitter’s tools.
When it comes to grabbing attention with a virtual vehicle launch, @Ford excelled with its Twitter livestream of the #MustangMachE global launch. The brand hit all the right notes with host Idris Elba. It was one of many automotive brands that took to Twitter to launch, kickstarting with teaser content and reminder cards and followed by the big reveal.
Honda (@Honda_UK) has been working hard to change perceptions and reach new audiences on Twitter, using the platform to land tailored content and key messages to four distinct audiences.
BMW (@BMW_UK) took audiences on a threadventure to launch its 1 Series campaign. This engaging format took audiences on a journey which drove users to the BMW website, enabling them to find out more about their ideal 1 Series model.
Industry innovation and disruption will continue apace, but automakers need only delve into Twitter conversations to rekindle the excitement, innovations and appetite for incredible driving experiences.
1. Twitter Internal, Global Tweets July - Dec 2020
2. Twitter Internal, Global Tweets Oct 2019 - Sep 2020
3. Twitter Internal, Global Tweets July - Dec 2020
4. GWI Q3 2020, UK only
5. GWI Q3 2020, UK only
6. Twitter Autos Purchase Journey (UK), Firefish, May 2016
7. Twitter Insiders UK, Apr 2020
8. Twitter Insiders UK 2019
9. Twitter Insiders UK, Apr 2020
10. Twitter Insiders UK 2019
11. Twitter Insiders UK 2019
12. Twitter Insiders UK 2019