Case Study: How Subaru Used Instagram Influencers To Boost Its Brand Perception

In this case study, we go over how using multiple influencers across industries can help brand positioning on social media.

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We’ve talked about awareness campaigns in the past, but rarely have we discussed brand perception campaigns, with the exception of our case on Iceland Groceries. In this influencer marketing case study, we talk about how Subaru, an already highly recognizable automotive manufacturer, used influencers on Instagram to improve its brand recognition and perception among millennials and Gen X followers by running their “Meet An Owner” campaign.

The Approach

Of all the major auto manufacturers on social media, Subaru was surprisingly small in terms of their presence on Instagram when they first started to dabble with influencer marketing, with its competitors having multiples more followers than they did. In an effort to boost both brand awareness and perception in the US market, they worked with 20 influencers at the same time across multiple different industries ranging from fitness to art to magic and more. Each influencer created 1 to 5 pieces of unique content, highlighting the lifestyle associated with owning a Subaru, while remaining authentic in their delivery.

The Outcomes

The campaign was a wild success. Across all 20 influencers, Subaru averaged a 9% engagement rate – keeping in mind the size of the influencers they used (largely macro and mega influencers), this is an absolutely fantastic result. Beyond the millions of likes and thousands of comments, they were able to generate 58 pieces of content. One of the biggest influencers they used, Zach King, received over 9 million views on his video alone. The cherry on top? In the year Subaru ran this campaign, sales were up over 10%. Coincidence? We think not!

How You Can Replicate Their Strategy

This campaign is more aligned with the advice we typically give on our YouTube channel. In order to replicate Subaru’s influencer marketing strategy. We generally recommend using at minimum ten influencers together, in an effort to hedge your bets. There’s no harm in using 20 like Subaru did, just know that it’ll require more work from your end managing it! Beyond hedging, another reason to use several influencers is you’ll know whom to scale, since you’ll be able to compare your influencers performance against each other under similar conditions. If you run 10 posts and have 2 or 3 influencers way outperform their peers, simply amplify them using paid social, or put them on a retainer deal and make them post more than once, just like Subaru did for its best performers.

The other key here – Subaru used influencers across different industries, much like Warby Parker did for its most successful campaign. If your product is generally applicable to anyone, then you have both an easier and more difficult task at the same time. Your target market is huge, but sticking out becomes hard. By tackling different industries by using very different influencers, you can appeal to every subgroup within your overall demographic targeting.

As always, try to get your influencers to post on the same day, at the same time. This allows you to fairly compare them against each other since you keep all other variables constant.

So there you have it! If you’re looking to boost awareness and perception, Subaru’s playbook is certainly one to copy!

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