Discover more from may I drive your car?
Lessons from writing more than 100,000 posts about vehicles
Taking a high-level approach to finding success in your automotive social media niche
Social media is kind of a mess right now for creators, isn’t it?
I’m not talking about the larger accounts who have already grown a following, but the vast majority of new and returning content creators who are trying to get our work in front of more people.
If you’re a car content creator with between 500–10,000 followers and want to ensure your posts are seen by more and more people, you’re in the right place. :)
But if you’re looking for an off-the-shelf list of tactics to copy or for the secret formula to earning millions of fans—keep looking.
This article is focused on posts with intention, where a creator is actively trying to share their work, promote products, or participate in an online conversation relevant to their interests or expertise.
It’s also 1/4 of what I’ve written out but decided it was getting way too long for email! Let me know what I should tackle next: Post formatting/hashtags? Commenting? Analytics? Sh!tposting? Reply to this email or leave your comment below the post online.
Go after the audience you’re hoping to attract and set goals for yourself:
hitting a certain follower or “Likes” count will then become much less
of a day-to-day mental burden.
Not to be sensational with the title, but I hadn’t actually realized I’d hit the milestone of 100,000 posts until late this week.
Since 2007, I’ve made more than 50,000 personal tweets, plus thousands of Facebook and Instagram posts; but when you include my client work over more than a decade—sometimes planning and writing three posts per day for multiple accounts and platforms—100,000 is my most educated guess.
I want to address the metrics portion of this first; you may be wondering: if I know what’s effective on social media, why do I only have ~7,000 followers on Twitter, less than 2,000 on Instagram, and fewer elsewhere? Stick around until the end to find out.
The advice I hate to read most in these types of articles is to “just do it” but really: just do it.
Start posting now.
It’s for your audience, not for you
There are countless ways to curate and grow a successful social media presence—I’ll let you guess what these all have in common:
Spend years honing your skills as a 3D artist and posting dozens of beautifully-rendered (and often in-progress) fantasy machines, like Davide Virdis does. @davidevirdisss on Instagram
Create a Formula 1 podcast with friends for underserved topics surrounding the sport, then dedicate months to building a Discord server, then newsletter, then a lineup of original apparel, like Two Girls 1 Formula. @2grls1formula on Twitter
Feature car design news, cover new vehicle reveals from a design perspective, and report on open positions within the automotive design world, like Eugene Galison does. @eugenegalison on Instagram
Curate dozens of vintage motorsports videos and photos of popular cars, then create merchandise for the audience. @patina.research on Instagram
Dedicate yourself to finding, researching, and reporting on hundreds of obscure and forgotten vehicles, like Jon Morris. @obscure_cars_daily on Instagram
Generate thousands of AI-aided fantasy car designs, many of them based on comments and suggestions. @automotive.ai on Instagram
Create and post countless—and usually funny—original car memes on Instagram, like George Basdos does. @geo.baz on Instagram
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What do they have in common? They’re all sharing something interesting.
Not interesting to the maker: interesting to their audience.
Know this: as far as social media’s concerned, the finished product is not necessarily the most interesting, shareable, and compelling aspect of your work.
The process—basically, who you are and how you do it—is often what will turn Likes into followers, and followers into fans.
This is why there are thousands of talented artists posting unloved content on Instagram—ostensibly, why vehicle designers sometimes find it difficult to find support for their work—because my finished product blends in with your finished work and everyone else’s finished work.
Besides the time, talent, and effort involved, each of the creators I mentioned have found their niche (what they’re going to post); are comfortable with their branding (style of posts), have an engaged following, and—as far as I can tell—have grown an audience because of their social media-first approach.
Ask yourself: “What’s the most unique thing about what I do, and how can I share that aspect of my work?”
To make that last point incredibly clear, take a look at the UK creator, @popbangcolour on Instagram. As an artist, he could have only posted finished pieces or videos from events. Instead, the feed is all about sharing the process and why the process makes his art unique.
Finally, what’s with my follower counts? If I know so much about social media, why wouldn’t I have grown a much larger following?
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for quite some time, and when I was coming up, nobody really knew what to do with social media. Sure: I’d attended Tweetups, spoken at Podcamps, and encouraged peers both in and outside the car world to sign up for social media accounts—but it wasn’t to grow my following.
In other words: if my 7,000+ Twitter followers were suddenly 700,000, as of right now I would find it difficult to focus on what I want to use it for: sharing my work, posting crap about cars, and leaving mostly positive comments on interesting content.
On Twitter—where I have invested the most energy—I have a 6% engagement rate on my posts and my posts have hit more than 200,000 impressions for the last 12 months. For an independent creator not trying to actively grow their audience? That’s fantastic.
Do all the Likes, Retweets, and engagement mean actual money in my pocket that I can spend to survive for another month? No, no they do not.
I’m also not trying to “go viral”, sell products, or capitalize on the latest political / newsy / tragedy out there; I’m trying to enjoy Twitter because as sad as it may sound: it’s often my time to unwind online.
Go after the audience you’re hoping to attract, set goals for yourself, and hitting a certain follower or “Likes” count will become much less of a day-to-day mental burden.
Then you’ll have more mental bandwidth available to make content for your audience…
As I mentioned above, this article is only a portion of what I’ve started writing for car creators.
This isn’t a democracy, but you have a vote! What I should tackle next: Post formatting/hashtags? Commenting? Analytics? Sh!tposting? Reply to this email or leave your comment below the post online.