When it comes to buying a new car 64% of research is done between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.

Car buyers want to engage with brands in the evening when they're home and can take the time to research this major purchase decision properly.

This means it is vital to adopt a social media strategy that does not switch off after 5pm or at weekends.

Research from Auto Trader and BirdSong suggests that Toyota is the best when it comes to satisfying the consumer’s multiscreen, out-of-hours demands.

Here is the league table featuring the top 25 UK automotive manufacturers, followed by some analysis on what makes Toyota's Twitter account so engaging.

  1. Toyota - 76
  2. Nissan - 55
  3. Citroën - 53
  4. Fiat - 52
  5. Mercedes-Benz - 51
  6. Lexus - 51
  7. Volkswagen - 49
  8. Volvo - 48
  9. Honda - 48
  10. Audi - 47
  11. Skoda - 47
  12. BMW - 45
  13. Vauxhall - 44
  14. Jaguar - 40
  15. Dacia - 39
  16. Suzuki - 39
  17. Renault - 37
  18. Kia - 37
  19. MINI - 33
  20. Alfa Romeo - 33
  21. MG - 28
  22. Hyundai - 28
  23. SEAT - 26
  24. Abarth - 25
  25. Jeep - 25

The optimisation score given by Birdsong is based on a collation of metrics including presence, engagement and activities (how often the brand tweets, how engaging the brand is with its followers and people it follows, how often the brand responds to tweets, how often it retweets other engaging content etc.)

It’s a shame to see MINI so low down on the list as it has a fantastic social media strategy, but perhaps it concentrates more on social video platforms than Twitter. Ford is another great social media brand, but it doesn’t even figure in this list. Perhaps it concentrates too hard on content marketing rather than engagement.

Toyota

Firstly, hats off to the brave marketing team who suggested ‘Go Fun Yourself’ as the strap line.

With 27,200 followers, it’s a modest following, however it means that the social team behind the account can respond that much quicker and more efficiently to all possible enquiries.

Toyota’s account operates between 7am and 10pm, which is handy for out of office car researchers. As a criticism though, it would be even more helpful if the operating hours were stated within the Twitter profile itself.

That being said, every morning and evening a customer service agent tweets hello or goodnight and states what time they’re open until or reopen next. 

The account also seems to be just as busy and responsive at the weekend as it does in the week.

Content

In terms of content, Toyota’s feed is a good mixture of text, images and videos. It’s important to keep things varied to maintain interest. It’s also important to remember that image and video based posts often create the most engagement.

Toyota often shares related content that hasn’t been created by itself.

It also has a good eye for news-jacking. Halloween provided Toyota with lots of different opportunities for creating engaging content. I love the fact that someone at Toyota went out to find The Winchester from Shaun of the Dead just to do this...

Toyota also finds time to show the faces behind the brand. 

It’s important that a brand has a human side, it helps to build deeper relationships and loyalty. It’s also key way to enrich the story of your brand.

Toyota tweets content approximately five to seven times a day, including the weekends. It’s a mixture of attractive images of cars, articles, promotional videos, retweeted content from other sources and followers and contests.

It helps that Toyota has a range of different vehicles with their own different campaigns and a network of dealerships which also provide wider pool of content and ideas.

As for customer care, Toyota directly replies to anywhere between 15 – 30 enquiries a day, including weekends.

Engagement

Here’s a simple and effective tactic that Toyota uses, instead of replying directly to the @mention (thereby making it a conversation only followers of both users can see) Toyota lets everyone see a user’s tweet by inserting its own text before the @.

This gives the user a little publicity and lets the world see how positively the brand is regarded.

There’s a good sense of community here, with regular contests where user created content is shared with Toyota’s followers.

Toyota understands the importance of social customer care. As the account doesn’t deal directly with ecommerce as such, it would be very easy for the brand to fob off any enquiry to a relevant dealer or even just ignore them.

Instead Toyota responds quickly, with relevance, personalisation and answers the user’s question fully.

Toyota will even take on board criticism of its own marketing.

I probably shouldn’t share this, as everyone will start asking for one...

It’s not just customer enquiries it responds to, Toyota also cheerily joins in on indirect conversations too. 

This is a fantastic way to raise perception, spread awareness and give your brand a personality.

For more on the importance of social customer care, check out these investigations: how 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service and how 16 retail banks handle social customer service.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 5 November, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (6)

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Jamie Riddell

Jamie Riddell, CEO at Digital Tomorrow Today Ltd. /BirdSong

Great to see our insights published! You can get the full list including the rankings for franchise dealers and independent car dealers at www.birdsonganalytics.com/automotive

over 3 years ago

Jim Haysom

Jim Haysom, Business Development & Digital Marketing Leader at Jim Haysom Consulting

Brilliant write up Christopher with plenty of recent examples of Toyota's engaging content. It makes the insights we've worked on last month really come to life.

Hopefully this will inspire other car manufacturers and dealerships to use social analytics to improve their accounts and benchmark against others to drive more targeted marketing.

over 3 years ago

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Eliott Farr

Thank you so much for highlighting our hard work here in the social media department at Toyota. All the best.

Eliott Farr
@TheBoyEL
Social Media Content Officer, Toyota GB

over 3 years ago

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marco

Just a question! Why this range time 6pm and 9pm? Is a generic range time or which country ?

over 3 years ago

Jamie Riddell

Jamie Riddell, CEO at Digital Tomorrow Today Ltd. /BirdSong

Marco, the best time to tweet needs to be focused around when the customer is active. This can be when they are active on Twitter, when they are active researching cars or active in the dealerships. Depending on the country and car research behaviour it could change.

Our auto presentation covered off some ways to define this. (start from slide 35) http://www.birdsonganalytics.com/blog/2014/10/22/utilising-twitter-analytics-drive-targeting-marketing/

Jamie

over 3 years ago

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Terry Woodhouse, Director at generationNET

interesting article - I will take this on board when I manage my clients next social media campaign. My client is a car leasing company (http://leasing.totalmotion.co.uk) so there is a lot of relevant stuff here

about 3 years ago

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