As consumer attention fragments among the various pulls of modern-day media, companies are turning to unconventional sources to move their products front and center. Increasingly, this means turning to social media “influencers.” These are individuals with large follower bases on their chosen platforms, who plug brands in exchange for pay, trips, products, and more. Influencers see their online activity as a full-time marketing job, with time and resources spent cultivating their following, building their brand base, and planning their posts for maximum impact.
The automotive industry is no exception to this movement. Everyone from Lamborghini to Bentley to Porsche is getting into the game. Automotive brands view it as a way to expand their reach, humanize their product, and communicate with younger customers. Though companies rarely disclose how much they spend for mentions or posts from influencers, the transactions can run into the tens of thousands depending on how many eyes an influencer has on them.
Because using social media influencers is relatively new, it’s hard to tell for sure what their impact on the industry will be. Some fear that they could end up eroding customer trust. Influencers are paid content creators who, by and large, only release positive information about the products they’re highlighting. At the same time, consumers could confuse them as critics and become disillusioned when the car or device they purchase doesn’t live up to their hero’s hype.
Others see the trend as merely the next evolution in advertising and are cautiously investing in the influencers they believe can build their sales, just as they would in a television channel or local paper.
Regardless of opinion, it can’t be denied that influencers are making their mark as they continue to be sought out and signed on to top auto names. Here are a few of the creative choices car brands have made that seem to be leading to the right kinds of buzz.
Loki and Toyota
Starting with perhaps the most unconventional, since 2017, Toyota has partnered with a furry influencer, @loki, a gorgeous Siberian Husky. Loki and his human companion, Kelly Lund, interspersed their Instagram with Toyota’s 4Runner. The images promoted the rugged, outdoor lifestyle that appealed to customers likely to show interest in the 4Runner.
Jenny and Maserati
One of the big themes in the influence game is to partner with someone whose image fits the brand rather than an expert in the field. This is why Maserati went with Jenny Walton (@jennymwalton), a fashion influencer, to promote their car in a Mont Blanc photo shoot. Her base of fans who appreciate her posts for Saks Fifth Avenue felt equally enthusiastic about her appearances in a luxurious Maserati.
Supercar Blondie and DS Automobiles
Alex Hirschi, whose social media handle is @supercarblondie, like Walton, isn’t exactly a car expert, though she’s as enthusiastic about cars as her over two million followers. Hirschi enjoys introducing others to new and beautiful vehicles and has partnered with several brands over the years. Her Instagram account shows the power of an influencer: just one post from her and the previously unknown DS Automobiles saw a serious uptick in interest. Hirschi’s method of breaking down car information into language most people can access has made her one of the top auto influencers online.