The Virtue 100 -- most discussed brands of 2010Enlarge Photo
Here at SocialCarNews, we talk about nearly all of the world's major automakers -- then again, that's our job. But which car companies is the rest of America talking about? Marketing research firm Virtue just released its annual list of the Virtue 100, which answers exactly that question.
The Virtue 100 is a list of the 100 most-discussed brands in America. It's compiled with Virtue's Social Media Index, which analyzes how often people chat about specific brands using these five criteria:
- Social networking (which brands are being shared)
- Video sharing (which videos from which brands are being viewed and shared)
- Status updates (which brands are being tweeted and included in updates -- and how strong is each sharer's influence)
- Photo sharing (which photos are being passed around)
- Blogs (general mentions in the blogsphere, including comments)
The auto industry isn't the most-discussed sector, or even the second-most -- those honors go to consumer electronics and fashion/retail. Cars come in third, and it's really no surprise which brands are at the top of the list:
1. Ford (#11 overall)
2. Mercedes (#12 overall)
3. BMW (#13 overall)
4. Honda (#20 overall)
5. Ferrari (#27 overall)
Most of those brands saw upward movement: Ford jumped 13 places over last year, and the others leapt between five and seven spots. The sole exception is Ferrari, which slipped one rung down the ladder.
The majority of car companies and brands who do business in America appeared somewhere on the list: Nissan (#30), Audi (#35), Toyota (#40), Suzuki (#45), Volkswagen (#49), Dodge (#52), General Motors (#54), Porsche (#57), Chevrolet (#59), Jeep (#61), and Kia (#62). There were, however, some notable absences, including Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, GMC, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Smart, Subaru, and Tesla.
So, what does all this mean?
The Virtue 100 isn't a great indicator of sales -- otherwise brands like Hyundai would've made the list, and Suzuki would've been left off. It's also not necessarily a good measure of how "likable" a brand is: Virtue's index only counts "mentions", not whether those mentions are positive or negative.
What Virtue's list really says is how much conversation each brand is generating. Seeing Ford at the top of the list should've been a no-brainer, considering how aggressively the company has used social media in its marketing efforts. Ferrari is probably so high on the list because it's a hot, aspirational brand. These are the brands that people are thinking about.
But is this bad news for Buick et al? Well, it may not spell imminent doom, but we all know Oscar Wilde's famous adage: the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.