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Mercedes vs. Tesla: Social media face off

by Nils Herrmann on November 18, 2016

Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are both big players and competitors in the car industry. The competition for the car manufacturers doesn't happen only on the streets; Mercedes vs. Tesla can also be seen on social media. For this reason, we have taken a look at the social media appearance of one of the oldest car companies, Mercedes-Benz, with its 90 year old history, and at Tesla, a pioneer of electric cars that was founded only 13 years ago. Basically, it is the establishment against the new kid in town.

The aim of this study is to provide insights into the social media approach of both companies, but we didn’t want only to highlight plain numbers. The objective was to dig deeper into the social media strategy of these two automobile giants and also to reveal some of their key strategies.

As already mentioned, it is not the goal of this comparison solely to talk about numbers like the amount of followers and other similar KPIs, but we also wanted to disclose some Facebook tactics used by both competitors. The date range we looked at was May 1st, 2016 - Oct 31st, 2016. (Note every figure that we use in this article is the figure on the Oct 31st, 2016)

The question is: Is it going to be a head to head race or will we see a glory winner in the end?

Start your engines!

Who has the most fans?

Before we take a glimpse at the social media strategy, we will start off with the data: The first metric we took a look at is the most visible one, namely the amount of followers. A little heads up: Mercedes-Benz, not surprisingly, has a larger following than Tesla. But how exactly did the numbers look?

Mercedes Benz had an incredible 20,327,822 followers on Facebook. That is just 3 million less than the population of Australia. In comparison, Tesla's number of followers was way smaller - 1,754,492 accounts follow the electric car manufacturer. This impressive fan base definitely makes Mercedes one of the biggest biggest brands on Facebook.

We already see that both auto-manufacturers are on different levels in terms of followers, but how has the growth rate of Mercedes and Tesla evolved in the last six months?

Tesla had a follower growth rate of 19.47% in the last six month, whereas Mercedes-Benz growth rate was a mere 1.18%. An explanation for this could be that Tesla is focusing massively on boosting the growth of their social media presence through different means which will be discussed later on in this article. It is also important to keep in mind that a younger company, like Tesla, has significantly more room to grow their brand. Mercedes on the other hand already established a strong social media presence. Therefore, an enormous growth rate like that of Tesla's would have been extremely unlikely.

After looking at the total followers and the follower growth rate, we switched our perspective in our Mercedes vs. Tesla observation to the distribution of post types and the amount of own posts. But we didn’t stop there. We also turned to another interesting aspect: the usage of sponsored posts. Before we dig deeper into these different spheres, let’s take a look at the amount of own posts.

Facebook Native Video Study H1 2017

 

Who posted the most?

The next metric we tackled was total numbers of own posts created by each company. Mercedes, for instance, posted 614 times in the last six months, that is around 3.36 posts per day. Tesla, on the other hand, posted 184 times in the same time range, which equals to 1.01 posts per day.

From these figures it, is possible to form our next takeaway. Mercedes-Benz posted three times more on Facebook than Tesla did in the same period. To add an interpretation to this figure, that could mean that Mercedes is more focusing on constantly keeping their community active with at least 3 different posts per day. In the next step we dug deeper into the best performing posts.

Which posts received the highest reactions?

First we looked at the total number of followers, then at the amount of own posts, and now it is time to discuss the posts that performed best in the time range. To clarify the word best in this relation, theses are the posts that have received the most reactions in the analyzed time period.

The most interacted post by Mercedes displays the inside of the new Mercedes GLC coupe. The post was made with the help of the technology 360 degree video and is showing the interior of the car. The post which is titled the “the wild inside” received astonishingly 118,427 reactions. 108,804 Like, 6,463 Love, 137 Haha, 2,915 Wow, 74 Sad and 34 Angry.

Tesla’s post with the most reactions was a video introducing their own product solar roof. Interesting in this case is that Tesla is advertising not their car series, but are focusing on the company as a whole with their sustainability and environmental initiatives rather than just the cars themselves. They have left the realm of being a car manufacturer and extended their goal of being a green company. Looking at the numbers, the post received 41,161 reactions: 35,201 Like, 3,362 Love, 31 Haha, 2,554 Wow, 5 Sad and 5 times Angry.

 

Best time to post on Facebook

Tesla and Mercedes post every day to their Facebook timeline. That means that content is provided to their fans every single day of the week. Secondly, we want to address the timing of a post. First things first, we can’t tell you the perfect time for posting. There is no rule of thumb when posts receive the highest interactions, because that heavily depends on multiple factors such as the target groups, time zones and markets. But we can show you how Tesla and Mercedes are doing it. For this, we analyzed the own posts by time. (Note we set the time-zone to Greenwich mean time)

Mercedes vs. Tesla Time

Mercedes-Benz posted in the last six months mainly at three different times: 2 am, 9 am and 6 pm. In the graph, Mercedes' three posts peaking times are visible. Taking numbers into account: 89 posts were created at 9am, and also around 96 posts at 6pm, but Mercedes reached its peak time at 2am with 159 posts. Interestingly, Tesla also focused on posting their content at 6pm and did that over 65 times. We can take from this that companies prefer to spread their content in clear patterns that were successful.

After we got an idea of when they posted their content, we then took a look at the preferred post type that was used.

Which post types are predominantly used?

Facebook’s three predominant formats of post types are links, photos and videos. Let’s take a look at which post types both company mainly focused on. Mercedes-Benz was more geared towards photos. They posted 304 photos, which is approximately 50% of the posted content in the analyzed time range. In second place were videos posts, with 188 posts (31%). The least used post type was the link post, which was used 121 times (19%).

Taking a look at the figures for Tesla we observed the following results: The most used post type with 49% were links (88 times). Surprisingly, photos and videos had the similar amount of post. Videos were posted 48 times (26%) and photos 46 times (25%). Little side note here: Every post type on Facebook performs differently and should be used in order to reach goals. If you want to amplify reach, picture posts are normally the better choice as their reach tends to be higher. Link posts can perform better if you aim for more fans clicking through your website.

Sponsored Post Distribution

Mercedes vs. Tesla Sponsored

The next number we took a look at in our Mercedes vs. Tesla comparison is certainly the most interesting one we came across. Sponsored Posts are a crucial way to spread your message with the help of money in order to reach more people. It is clear from the from the stacked column percent chart that Mercedes-Benz wasn’t sponsoring their posts as much as Tesla was doing it.

Starting off, let's take a number of the figures for Mercedes-Benz. The company utilized the option to sponsor their posts 60 times, and relayed the other 554 times on organic posts. Tesla's share of organic posts was 27 (14,67%), but sponsored 157 (85,38%) of their posts.

We can take from this that Tesla is concentrating on pushing their content with the help of sponsored posts. Mercedes, on the other hand, relies on the organic share of voice. A reason for this could be that Mercedes already has a huge fan base, and is not so dependent on the usage of sponsored posts as Tesla, which proactively tries to boost their social media appearance.

Customer Service on Social Media

In the next section we took a look at the response time distribution of Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. A little explanation of how we measured the response time. It is the time difference between the creation of the user post and the answer from the page owner to this post. In addition, it is also important to mention that the label not responded is used when there was no answer from the page owner to a user post containing a question.

Mercedes vs. Tesla Customer Service

The chart shows the relative distribution of the different response time groups to have an easy comparison of each page.

A fascinating fact is the amount of not respond user posts by Tesla, because they never answered to the user posts on their timeline, therefore; the response rate equals 0%. 1,076 times user posted on their timeline and not one of them received an answer to their questions. This is an interesting approach, and slightly different to the real life customer experience observed by others.

The reason for this behavior is hard to interpret. One reason could be that Tesla is focusing on real time customer service and want to provide an eye-to-eye experience, instead of opening an additional customer channel on Facebook. Not answering to customer questions can lead into a really bad user experience.

Mercedes-Benz didn’t respond to 61% (411) of their user posts. But what do the other numbers look like? One example of great social media customer service is the response time between 0h-2h, in which they answered 166 user posts (25%). Posts between 2h-8h were 33 times (5%) and the number of answered user posts between 8h-24h were 65 times (9%).

Before we conclude our Mercedes vs. Tesla Facebook analyzation, we want to take a detour to a different social media network platform, in which we observed how both companies acted on Instagram.

Facebook Native Video Study H1 2017

Mercedes vs. Tesla on Instagram

After Instagram introduced its Snapchat-like feature “Stories” one of the most prevalent questions was: Are companies also including this new addition into their social media strategy? The answer for Tesla and Mercedes is YES.

Both companies are not only posting videos and photos on their Instagram account, but they also are taking advantage advantage of the new story feature. As it is not yet possible to receive data on the usage and the success of Instagram stories (but we have an eye on that every day), we only can conclude from this that both companies are keep on track with the newest social media trends.

For a social media analytics company, it is difficult to avoid the numbers. For this we are going to finish this article with some numbers regarding Mercedes-Benz and Tesla’s Instagram accounts. Mercedes-Benz was followed by 7,134,306 and posted 1,062 times in the last six months. That is an average of posts 5.8 per day. Of these 1,062 posts, 987 were pictures and only 75 were videos. Tesla was followed by 1,229,480 people and posted 72 times on Instagram, that equals a daily average of 0.39 posts per day. Of these 72 posts, 56 were pictures and 16 were videos.

Let’s wrap up our findings

Mercedes-Benz is, when it comes to the pure data on social media, way ahead of Tesla. The reasons for this are manifold. It is obvious that the German car manufacturer has a long history and is already well known all over the world. Therefore, it is easier for the company to have a solid and strong social media presence that doesn’t rely so much on sponsored posts on Facebook.

The numbers of sponsored posts and the follower growth rate revealed that Tesla is chasing the growth of their company on Facebook by establishing them not solely as a car manufacturer but also as a pioneer of alternative energy. The question that has risen in this relation is why Tesla is not stepping up their posting behavior on Facebook and Instagram. Instead of solely using the sponsored post distribution, it could also be greatly effective for them to increase their post frequency. Another fact that is worrying is the lack of customer service on social media provided by Tesla. This is also a huge opportunity for them to make their brand more visible.

The most interesting question from this what the future will look like, when Mercedes will switch their approach and finally release the first electric vehicle. Exciting times are ahead of us.

Do you want to measure something specific in your social media analytics, if so, feel free to contact us. We will help.

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Nils Herrmann

Nils is part of the quintly communication team. He is a committed writer with a keen interest in new technologies and social media strategies.

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