YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and other social media apps gave rise to influencer culture. An influencer is a digital celebrity whose popularity has the power to influence consumers. There are beauty influencers, fashion influencers, parenting influencers, theme park influencers and even automotive influencers. Every industry has its own list of popular internet personalities with the power to persuade and perhaps convert interest into a sale.
Companies partner with influencers to help boost sales numbers and even to help them increase the brand’s visibility. Who are the most popular automotive influencers that car dealerships should know and follow? These are the personalities influencing the auto industry and potential car buyers, too.
The Most Popular Car influencers on Instagram
Instagram focuses on images and short video content. The platform is popular among influencers because it allows them to showcase products and their own image, too. The most popular influencers in any industry might change over time. According to Shane Barker’s site, three of the most popular car influencers on the ‘Gram include:
- Tim Shmee @shmee150 (1.6 million followers)
- DoItWithDan @diwd_official (312K followers)
- David Patterson @thatdudeinblue (259K followers)
Other sites might list different influencers that are popular on Instagram, however some personalities might be actors or celebrities that aren’t focused strictly on automotive content. The most popular influencers might not focus on localized content, though; since car dealerships tend to be local to a specific region, dealerships could research influencers in their area that might be a fit for their outreach needs and marketing strategies.
Top Car Influencers on YouTube
YouTube channels only include video content. While Instagram and TikTok focus on short-form video, YouTube lets creators and independent channels post long videos that might be hours in length. Popular videos on YouTube include Vloggers that post content related to tourist destinations, challenges and more.
The most popular video on YouTube might be a surprise, though. The video for Baby Shark Dance by Pinkfong currently holds the record for the most views on the platform—it has 12 billion views!
There are many popular YouTube channels that focus on automotive content. Dealerships that are specifically searching for the most popular automotive influencers on YouTube might want to visit the channels for these influencers:
- Doug DeMuro
- Chris Harrison Cars
DeMuro’s channel focuses on videos highlighting a variety of different cars from luxury vehicles to standard cars. DeMuro has 4.63 million subscribers and has amassed more than 990 videos on his channel.
Chris’ channel focuses on car repairs or ‘fixes.’ He has 9.52 million subscribers and has posted more than 380 videos. His most popular video is focused on How to SUPER CLEAN Your Engine Bay—it has been viewed 46 million times.
Chris Harrison’s channel includes lots of test drive content. He counts 455K subscribers.
How Automotive Influencers Impact the Automotive Market
Dealerships might wonder why they should care about automotive influencers. Popular influencers on social media platforms partner with brands and companies to create sponsored content (aka ‘sponcon’). Not all influencers engage in partnerships, but some auto influencers might offer this opportunity.
Knowing about the most popular influencers in the area (or even the state) might be advantageous to dealerships that want to increase visibility and boost in-store traffic. It’s also beneficial for dealerships to know about the most popular influencers or figures for the industry on each social media platform as the content could be useful for the dealership to share online and engage with their own followers.
While the accounts mentioned above are some of the most influential and popular, they might not all be considered ‘influencers.’ Not every popular social media account partners with companies or is even trying to influence consumers; some just love cars and want to provide valuable content and insight.
How to Successfully Collaborate with Automotive Influencers
Collaborating with auto influencers could enhance a car dealership’s visibility and, again, increase traffic and sales, too. However, not all influencers collaborate with brands or companies, and not all influencers who are interested in collaborating are the best fit for a local car dealership.
Identifying the Right Automotive Influencers for Your Brand
Collaborating with an influencer isn’t free. The cost of collaboration could vary depending on the popularity and outreach of the influencer. Some collaborative campaigns could be out of reach for small or local car dealerships.
However, collaborations don’t have to involve national influencers or even the most popular social media personalities. Dealerships might choose to partner with a well-known local influencer.
Dealerships also should have a plan in mind related to the collaboration. Will this be a sponsored promotion or contest? Is the dealership looking for an online ad or placement via the influencer’s channel or account? In addition, partnering with an influencer makes sense only if the influencer has outreach to the dealership’s target demographic.
Measuring the Success of Automotive Influencer Campaigns
How does the dealership know that their influencer campaign is successful? To measure the success, dealerships can use a formula similar to the one used to calculate conversion rates: leads/referrals / views or impressions x 100.
This formula provides the percentage rate to illustrate the overall success of the partnership or collaboration. Remember that the typical conversion rate for dealerships is around 1.5 percent, but for more expensive campaigns with influencers, dealerships likely want more ROI.
To Collaborate or Not to Collaborate
Not all car dealerships are ready or willing to enter the realm of influencer collaborations or campaigns. For some, a collaboration doesn’t make financial sense and simply isn’t in the budget. Before reaching out to an influencer, dealerships also need to outline their expectations of the collaboration. Why is the collaboration campaign necessary for the dealership? What does the dealership hope to gain?
Dealerships might decide that focusing on SEO and online advertising can help boost their visibility via search engines and, hopefully, increase their leads and sales. Ramping up social media engagement and outreach also could help dealerships reach more potential customers and get noticed.
Even deploying a customer referral program could be an effective means to increasing leads or sales. However, dealerships who are interested in creating a referral program need to outline the design of the program and streamline the CTA. What will the program provide for referrals? Dealerships also have to determine if they simply want to reward any referral or only referrals that lead to a sale. Rewarding a referral that converts to a sale might ensure that the dealership receives serious leads instead of random lists of names.
Get Noticed On Social Media Without an Influencer
Influencers can help elevate a brand or company on a social media channel. However, dealerships and companies that are savvy on social platforms might have the tools to enhance their own image and brand.
Dealerships might be active on Facebook but nowhere else. There are numerous social media platforms and all of them might have a unique audience and content strategy. While Facebook remains the most popular platform, TikTok has gained notoriety and is especially popular with younger audiences.
YouTube is a video-centric social platform, and it’s a great tool and resource for car dealerships. Use YouTube to post test drive videos, walk around videos to introduce new models and create a video tour of the showroom, too. YouTube videos can be designed as a video series; create a series focused on car care or common car maintenance. Give tips on buying a car or tell consumers about new promotions or sales.
Instagram is an ideal platform for posting car photos. Create slideshows of new vehicles that consumers shopping from home can use during their research phase. Post videos showing off those new car models or even videos that introduce followers to the sales team and staff. Don’t forget to add a link to the dealership’s website in the bio.
Dealerships might wonder about other social media platforms. What about Twitter and Snapchat? Dealerships that are interested in expanding their social media reach can—and should—research the different platforms to better understand which options are the best fit for their needs. Again, every social media platform has a specific content focus or strategy.
Influencing with Influencers
Dealerships might be researching the most popular influencers in their area for an online collaboration. While partnering with influencers is a great way for companies to elevate their brand and get noticed, dealerships should research which influencers are the best fit for their brand. Remember that not every influencer is interested in collaborations, and the price of partnerships varies per influencer, too.
Some dealerships might discover that collaborating with an influencer isn’t financially feasible. Others might not feel that this type of collaboration makes sense for their brand. When the budget isn’t conducive to influencer campaigns or when these campaigns just don’t make sense, dealerships might decide to expand their social media visibility by creating accounts on more platforms and expanding their content offerings to reach a wider audience. Dealerships can research their options to find the platforms that can best support their brand.