After announcing that it had cheated on emissions tests, Volkswagen saw a plunge in its stock price – and its reputation. However, the brand’s social media following actually grew as a result of the scandal.

The scandal put Volkswagen at the top of news feeds. Following the company’s stock plunge, the #volkswagen hashtag generated more than 3,000 mentions on Twitter in less than five hours, according to research from L2’s upcoming Auto Index. In comparison, it took 37.5 hours for #toyota and 136 hours for #kia to reach the same number.

Volkswagen mentions on Twitter

Instagram users also obsessed over #dieselgate, preferring the term to alternative taglines such as #vwgate and #volkswagenscandal. On October 2 alone, the hashtag was invoked more than 1,000 times.

Volkswagen mentions on Instagram

The brand itself played virtually no role in the conversation. In fact, Volkswagen was quieter on social media after the scandal than before, according to the L2 study. However, its Twitter following grew, surging from about 40,000 before the scandal to 46,000 two weeks later. Facebook page likes followed a similar pattern. When the brand recovers from the scandal, it will be able to leverage that increased following – although that day could be a long time coming.

Daily Insights in Your Inbox