INFINITI doesn’t have an infinite Instagram following, but the brand wins in the growth department. In 2018, INFINITI’s following grew by 88%, the second-highest rate in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto US. To reach new audiences and gain followers, INFINITI honed in on two tried-and-true tactics: hashtags and user-generated content.

INFINITI averaged 1.77 hashtags per Instagram post in 2018, a high number that reflected a consistent mix of generic and branded hashtags. While branded hashtags allow INFINITI to centralize content pertaining to its lineup, generic hashtags allow for visibility on Instagram’s Explore page and provide the opportunity to reach a new pool of Instagram users. Evidently, this basic strategy works, as a photo that included both ‘#ElectricCars’ and ‘#ConceptCar’ in the caption scored two times the brand’s average daily follower growth.

INFINITI also used UGC campaigns to grow its following, soliciting content under a single hashtag ‘#fansofINFINITI.’ The brand used the hashtag in about a fifth of posts in 2018 and received almost double its average engagement on these posts—in part because the brand re-posted content from accounts that have substantial followings themselves.

But INFINITI’s savviest hashtags were actually those of its competitors. To disrupt the competition on Instagram, INFINITI used Audi and Lexus’s model hashtags (e.g., #AudiQ5 and #LexusRX) and competitor comparison hashtags (e.g., #QX50vsQ5 and #QX50vsRX) in its captions. This tactic increased the chances that INFINITI’s content would surface in the feeds of Instagram users who followed Audi or Lexus, and subsequently lure them to INFINITI’s account.

Auto brands are beginning to target their competitors on social channels, a tactic borrowed from the search realm, where this predatory behavior is already prevalent. As Gartner L2 observed in Auto US: Disruption, 52% of OEMs place text ads against their competitors’ brand and model terms on Google search. 

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