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Social media relationship quality of three brands of the motorcycle industry: Harley


Davidson, Honda and Ducati.

Fall semester 2013
Gabriele Bernasconi Roberto Degraria Uchenna Egbete Alessandra Maffioli Kavya Stephen Giada Tironi Elena Salviato De Jie Jessica Caccia Fidan Akhundzada


This report provides findings and analysis of the social media branding activities of three motorcycle brands Harley Davidson, Honda and the Ducati. The evaluation is made focusing on the brands ability to build a relationship with their audiences, as well as the quality of their interactions in different social media platforms. The instrument applied was the seven items brand relationship index.

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Ducati, Harley Davidson and Honda are three famous brands belonging to the motorcycle industry. Each of these brands has a strong market presence, with a brand value of respectively $1.32 million 1 , $4.23 million and $18.49 million 2 , evidences that they succeeded in creating value for consumers. Nowadays, the most effective competitive advantage form relies in the intangible resources, which are brand relationships, brand differentiation and knowledge and allow firms to focus more and better on the consumer. Companies should be able to create these intangible resources through the digital. In other words, in order to compete in this new digital world, companies have to be able to leverage on the linking values of their brands. Social media have become something vital for firms, because help them to co create value with consumers. Firms have to keep in mind that their presence on the social world isnt enough: they have to be able to establish interactions with consumers, a shared meaning around the brand.

1 2

Source: www.rankingthebrands.com Source : www.interbrand.com

The aim of this report is to evaluate the social media branding of three different brands (Ducati, Honda and Harley Davidson) through a seven-step analysis. The methodology use is the following:

Harley Davidson
1. Social presence: 10

HD is known to have one of the most active social media programs of any major brand. The brand is present in many platforms that we considered important and relevant, that is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and

Google +; anyway, this report will focus on 3 main social networks,

that is on Facebook, twitter and YouTube. Harley Davidson has literally created a community around the social networks, taking the customer at the core of the interactions: its not only about increase brand awareness, its all about creating a community which allows users to experience the brand digitally. HD put an equal presence effort in every social network, showing its engagement in the attempt to involve every kind of users (targets). 2. Dialog / user engagement management: 10

Harley Davidson adopts social media in order to engage users in many ways: for example, on Facebook and twitter, it shares pictures of special HDs events, quiz to test a users brand knowledge, familiarity and loyalty, and videos of brand users communities. All the content it publishes help to create common meanings around the brand, deliver its brand values and develop a mere special Harleys lifestyle.

Also YouTube is used a lot from users: its possible to find any kind of video regarding the brand, from a typical ride to concerts, charity events and stunts with ah Harley motorcycle. All these video are shared on other social networks and commented from a huge number of users (till 2 million views). On Twitter, HD has 161.395 followers, 1006 followed and 5873 tweets; on Facebook it has 4.996.358 likes and 151.047 people talking about HD, with a rate of engagement equal to 3%. On Twitter, people use several times hashtags. The engagement on Tweeter is therefore also high: according to hashtracking.com, 249 tweets with #Harleydavidson were created by users, reaching an audience of 405.711 followers in 36 hours.

All these information are sum up in the following image3:

YouTube (with 51.995 followers) is also an important tool for creating engagement. Through this platform, HD shares those content that permits to create the typical freedom and machismo values. 3. Sentiment / advocacy management: 9.5

Harleys Davidsons strategy on social media is very clear and its main objectives are to solidify the existing communities and engage other Harleys fans to join this lifestyle. The final goal is to increase sales of motorcycle and related accessories. Strategies used on Facebook and Twitter are: ! Post pictures and video that appeal emotionally. Through this kind of content, HD is able to transmit its freedom and machismo values to the users, reinforcing the engagement and convincing other people to enter into the brand community. ! The engagement is also obtained by asking questions (through quiz and other asking forms) in such a way to make people feel an important part of the brand. ! Crating weekly - monthly topics (for example HD fan machine), which allow people to talk about their Harleys experiences. This activity helps HD to understand how people experience the brand and how the communities are formed (and respectively, the sense of belonging). Its important to underline the fact that the majority of comments (in every kind of platform) are positive. Evidences show clearly that Harley Davidson is a Lovermark, because the brand receives both respect and love from consumers. From the analysis of the first 50 comments on both Facebook and Twitter, it can be assessed that there is a high tendency of positive comments (approximately, FB: 78%, Twitter: 80%), while the negative ones are quiet low (approximately, FB: 18%, Twitter: 17%). We can clearly observe that in both the platforms the positive and negative comments have similar tendency: in other words, there is consistency in users comments.


Contributors are all the people who tweet with a particular hashtag. Everyone who tweets or re-tweets a message with a particular hashtag is counted as a


Timeline deliveries represent the total possible number of times someone could have viewed a particular message. We use the follower count of the original tweeter and add the followers of any re-tweeters to generate the total number of timeline deliveries for each and every hashtagged tweet. deliveries, measuring reach as well as deliveries allows you to better understand the true spread of your message. Reach is the number of unique individuals who received timeline deliveries* of hashtagged messages. Because the same users may receive multiple timeline

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Another efficient way to evaluate Harley Davidsons sentiment is using a special research tool called socialmention.com. From a key research, using as a key word Harley Davidson, we obtained the following results: 39% of strength, that is the likelihood that your brand has been discussed on social media; 29:1 of sentiment, that is the ration of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative; 22% passion, that is the measure of the likelihood that individuals talking about your brand will do so repeatedly; and finally 57% of reach, that is a measure of the range of influence. 4. Support/value: 8

The brand offers content regarding their products (e.g. information on new launches and presentations events) but HD is more active in engage community rather than asking for improvement or complaining. Despite this lack we can say that HD is always willing to answer customers questions about problems or products development with a high customer care attention. HD asks users opinions about new products and innovation. An example is this tweet on twitter:

HD then receives answers from which they can understand customers preferences and thoughts about new launches. 5. Innovation: 9

Although HD is focused on creating a strong sense of community, its first goal is to make feel every costumer unique. Thats why they give the possibility to their clients to create exclusive pieces for their one-off trips and experiences. They are the co-producer of the product.

Come Together is not merely a song in our spot its an anthem for our relationship whit our fans. They are the heart of everything we do. No one is more emotionally vested in Harley-Davidson than our fans. Thats why we turn to them. These words from Mark-Hans Richer, HD Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
perfectly explain the value that customer represent for HD. Furthermore this year HD used insights gathered by the brand during thousands of rides and personal interactions with customers to deliver never-before-seen motorcycling enhancements, such as the first original equipment voice recognition and touchscreen for music, GPS navigation and on-motorcycle phone4. 6. Harley Davidson online leadership: 9

Harley Davidson leadership on Web 2.0 is very strong due to its level of brand image and to the large and devoted community around this brand. There are many virtual clubs, blogs and forums by Harley Davidson to keep every consumer connected to the Harley Davidson family. HD plays a guiding role on social media platforms, strongly involving customers which remain at the core of HD activities, and always allowing them to comment and enhance any discussion on the subject of interest, but never participating directly to the debate.


Source: www.harley-davdison.com

There are plenty of unofficial blogs and forums around the community even though you can apply on the official website inserting your profile to become a member of the Harley Owners Community (hog.com).


Linking value community: 10

This is the latest post of HD on FB wall. HD is very active in engage customer in all the promotions activities. HD always answers to users, this is an example: We're glad you were a part of it as well; we fixed your name within

the image and now reads John D.P. Thanks again for sharing!
HD always posts pictures and engage interaction by asking: Do you have better pictures? Please post them here. The most published posts by HD and its fans are photos showing people in the road with their motorbike surrounded by amazing landscape from all over the world. Everything is related to travels and membership to the brand, HD emphasizes the sense of community and users are more active in participating to the wide variety of communication campaign. All campaigns are linked together towards all social media platforms.

1. Social presence: 10

After making some research according to the social presence level of Ducati it is possible to reveal that the brand is a leading international e-commerce player. Social media is the most important tool for the brand`s promotion. The brand is presented in most popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Moreover, the company has had its own web page www.ducati.com since 2000. According to the Global Social Media Chart made by Starcount group in 2013, which identified the most popular Global stars of social media, among 285,002 brands Ducati is No.7282 for its popularity in social media. Moreover in Automotive Brands Chart made by Starcount group Ducati is No 88 among other 200 automotive brands due to its activeness in social media.

Furthermore Ducati gathers its fans in its Own Social Network with 160,000 registered users. Ducati North America launched a new social media site for fans of the Italian manufacturer. The new Ducati Community site lets Ducati fans share pictures, videos and text while connecting with Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks. Ducati after launching it for North American audience is going to expand to connect Ducati fans around the world. Ducati Community will also offer official Ducati news about events, promotions and model upgrading. In 2011 Ducati launched a new iPhone app for fans to follow the Ducati Moto GP team. The new Ducati Corse app provides news and information straight from the Moto GP factory located in Bologna, Italy. The app offers race updates, results and championship standings, profiles on Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, data on the Desmosedici GP11, an extensive gallery of photographs and additional Ducati-related news. The Ducati Corse app is available for free at the Apple. 2.

Dialog/user engagement management: 10

Strong social presence of the brand lead to huge

numbers of followers in different social networks. From the table below it is revealed that an aggregate number of followers for most known networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instangram is around 150 millions. Ducati`s videos was watched 19,813.315 times up to 25th November , 2013.The highest number of followers is on Facebook with 1,670,353 fans, whereas the lowest number, in comparison with these tree networks,is on Istagram (25,445 fans). Morover, we can assess that the rate of engagement on Facebook is of the 1.14%.


Table Source: `SocialBakers` team; 25 Novermber 2013

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In respect to Twittter we can assess that up tp 25th of Novermber 2013 the number of followers were around 122,000. From the chart below we can indicate an increase in number of followers of Ducati on Twitter. The main point of the company`s succes is considered its special strategy toward its cusotmer s. is Ducati a

company that has replaced the words marketing and customer with the words community and fan. Ducati`s community of fans is considered to be as a major asset of the company. Ducati enhances the fan experience through social networks. It involves fans on a systematic basis to reinforce the places, the events, and the people that express the Ducati life style and Ducatis desired brand image. Company uses specific way to enhance and reward customer engagement. For instance, the company has created a competition called Design Your Dream Ducati, where fans are challenged to interpret any form of their Dream Ducati, by offering artistic as well as technical ideas. A team that includes the CEO, the chief manager of the Design Department and the Creative Director, selects the best ideas. 3. Sentiment / advocacy management: 9

Ducati uses social networks to support customer loyalty, at the front-end as well as at the back-end stages to its product development process. Furthermore on social media its objective is to encourage word of mouth, raise brand visibility and strengthen brand values. We can underline five main keys of Ducati`s social media strategy: Encourage exclusive fans with videos, images, events Solicit content from followers and share pictures from the community Don not post too much, stay in a `golden middle` Listen to your networks beyond Facebook, Twitter Respond on time

In order to analyze the positive/ negative opinions of followers about the brand, there were taken one page of Ducati with 143,350 people, who liked the page and analyzed 100 comments of followers about the brand. In that case there was revealed that 87% of followers have commented positively, only 9% of comments has contained negative attitude, and 4% of comments was neutral. In the graph it is represented the analysis on Ducati Facebook page on 100 comments of followers, 20th of November, 2013. As we have done for Harley Davidsons analysis, we can evaluate Ducatis sentiment is using socialmention.com. From a key research, using as a key word Ducati, we obtained the following results: 33% of strength, 75:1 of sentiment, 25% passion, and finally 51% of reach.

From an overall perspective, taking into account different social networks (brand`s blog, page of the brand`s community, official webpage, Facebook, Twitter) it can be revealed that peoples` response about Ducati is positive. From the comments it is understandable that there is huge customer loyalty and good interaction between the producer and customer. 4. Support/value: 9

As it was mentioned before, the brand is active on the main social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Flickr, and it offers a wide range of services through them to its customers; it answers to questions, it asks for reviews, it posts videos about performance and races and many pictures as well. The owners of its products are able to post significant pictures that cement the brands loyalty and group identity, and that can create a network of brands lovers. Ducati is able to keep its followers always updated with the latest news about actual and future products, and in general on everything they may be interested in; that is particularly appreciated, since taking a look at customers ratings on Facebook we could see a majority of 5/5 stars given to the brand. In fact it offers an accurate customer service and the chance to interact directly with the company through a call center and via e-mail, and it sends feedbacks afterwards, which is important to keep loyal people who are willing to pay a premium price for these products but who require also a great service and customer support. 5. Innovation: 8

In the innovation process, which is based on co-creation, involvement and collaboration, Ducati tries to provide many brand-user touch points. The brand offers the opportunity to develop a Ducati licensed product or service, and it allows to apply directly for a job, hiring so not only the best and most motivated minds, but also brands enthusiasts. Ducati allows people to open official sales point/garages or even restaurants, it helps students providing information for their theses and offering internships. There are several DOCs (Desmo Owners Clubs) formed by owners of Ducati bikes which increase the feeling of belongingness and ownership, and which definitely increase the loyalty towards the brand. On 19th of July 2012 Ducati was purchased by Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A, and the totality of the voting rights were acquired by Audi AG.In this way the Italian brand has had the chance to get new funds to invest in R&D and to improve the performance of its bikes, and to strengthen its brand as well as financial solidity, thanks to the well established reputation of Volkswagen AG, which owns Audi AG.There will be for sure a close collaboration between these brands to offer high performance bikes to the niche Ducati targets or even to target new segments. 6. Leadership: 7

Brand stories are appreciate and shared by people in social media; they also discuss and add personal experiences and opinions about them. In particular Ducati select these brand stories posted in its site and shared them on Facebook and Twitter. However the brand doesnt actively participate to conversations, it just shared new post.

Often links are connected to Ducati site but also to the other social network platform especially Twitter and You Tube, furthermore there are also linked to other site like Motociclismo, a specialized paper of motorbikes. The brand communication is perceived by most people to be honest and transparent; however some suspect that Ducati deletes posts unseemly as it seems strange that there are few negative comments. Thus, Ducati leadership in the web is quite strong. 7. Linking value community: 9

Ducati is very active in engaging customers to its promotions activities. It shares photos, videos and events on its products but also about the world superbike and other competitions that see Ducati as a protagonist. It gives the possibility to people to express their opinion and share photos about their motorbike and so on. Ducati organizes online events such as Ducati Air Bike Challenge in which the participants must create a video. The winner is rewarded and the video shared within its online community. Everything is connected to the highperformance motorcycles, to the image of brand in the world and to sport competitions. People feel a member of the community because they share the same spirit of Ducati. With Ducati they feel powerful. In this way users are very active in participating to the wide variety of communication campaign. In this sense the brand is a strong social connector between the owners of products and who is simply attract by this world. Furthermore the promotion campaigns are linked together towards all social media platforms

1. Social Presence: 7

Honda Motorcycles has a pretty good presence on the web. They use the Internet to interact with their customers and increase brand awareness. They use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Intagram and Pinterest in order to advertise their new products in form of pictures and videos. They integrate all these three social network platforms to reach their customers. Although they could use Instagram and Pintrest as these social networking platforms are becoming more popular for picture and short video sharing. 2. Dialog/user engagement management: 8

Honda motorcycles use social media to engage users in various forms. On Facebook, they upload pictures and announce new products. Their level of dialog is more on Facebook as customers can be seen making requests for new products to reach their local stores and the company replying to these posts. Though, the companys posts do not attract much attention, as there are only a few comments and likes to their posts. Fans can also see in action how these products work before purchase as the company uses its Youtube page to upload test-drives of new products to attract customers. So the fans use the three channels to communicate with the brand (though it is very low on twitter). Nevertheless, there is so much space for improvement as the level of engagement is still low, 14,028 talking about Honda Motorcycles as against 732,978 likes which equals 1.91%.

This is mainly done on Facebook as it can be noted that they reply directly to most of their customers questions and request by commenting on the comments posted by their customers.

On YouTube (118,178 subscribers 27,011,123 views), they include celebrities such as Nick Cannon and Maroon5 in their commercials and support these celebrities on tours.

Videos of how the production processes of their products are also uploaded to give customers a glimpse of what goes-on on the inside. But the interaction between the company and the customers is very less on this platform. Both positive and negative examples of feedbacks are showed below:


Sentiment/advocacy management: 7

Honda Motorcycles strategy on social media is clear and its main objective is to market its products and raise brand visibility. The only posts seen on their Facebook page is that showing new products and not interactions with customers (like asking questions about customer experience) instead, the customers are the ones who share their experiences and products owned on the page. There is only more customer interaction on Twitter as customers posts complaints and the company replying directly. As we have done for Harley Davidsons and Ducatis analyses, we can evaluate Hondas sentiment is using socialmention.com. From a key research, using as a key word Honda motorcycle, we obtained the following results: 12% of strength, 40:1 of sentiment, 37% passion, and finally 31% of reach.


Support/Value: 9

The company offers good information to customers regarding their products (E.g. information on new products, production processes and information on recycling, etc.). Their social media pages only talk about the brand and their posts are quite repetitive. In analyzing most of their posts, it can be noted that they respond to most of fans comments and requests only on twitter and a few on Facebook. These responses are both to negative and positive comments. SO in negative posts, they try to find out what the problem the customer has.

5. Innovation: 7

The innovation process includes the relationship between Honda and its customers. The users give suggestions, feedbacks and preferences about the different models already in the market. The interaction level between the users on different social medias is different. Twitter and Facebook pages have more responses to the queries of the consumers. This is way of directly contacting with the consumers and getting to know their tastes and preferences. 6. Leadership: 6

Brand stories are shared and appreciated by customers/fans on social media. Customers mainly share their personal experience or show-off the products that they own and some videos showing stunts they performed using Honda products. However, Honda does not actively participate in the discussions. Most atimes, links are attached to the posts which leads customers/fans to the company webpages. Therefore, the company has a strong image on the web. 7. Linking Value/community: 8

Even though Honda is an active member in the different social medias they also have an active participation in initiatives such as environmental conservation, education and traffic safety. They have activities in parts of Central America, South America, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. They are a company with a global viewpoint which contributes for the well-being of local communities around the world through their products and technologies.

Harley Davidson Social media presence Dialog / User engagement management Sentiment management Support / Value Innovation Leadership Linking value / community AVERAGE / advocacy 10 10 9.5 8 9 9 10 9.35

Ducati 10 10 9 9 8 7 9 8.86

Honda 7 8 7 9 7 6 8 7.42

Analyzing the subjective grades we assigned to the three motorcycle brands we chose, we can unequivocally say that both Harley Davidson and Ducati have been able to reach a position of Lovermark, with a wide base of loving customers who are loyal to the brand, who actively participate in the brands lives on the main social medias, and who are willing to pay a premium price to become owners of one motorcycle. Even if with an honest and discrete final results, we believe that Honda can do much more to involve its customers and get their attention; this, according to us, may be due by the fact that Ducati and Harley Davidson are mainly motorcycle companies and have highly characterized the brand, being worldwide know, appreciated and sought, whilst Honda, even if it is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world and builds great motorbikes, is not able to do that, because its a multinational not only focused on the production of motorcycles and doesnt target a peculiar nice like the other brands do. To better understand these results we calculated the engagement content for each brand on the main and with the highest amount of follors social media: Facebook. We saw that this time not only Honda cannot involve much the customers, but also Ducati, which posts interesting but often borrowed from other websites articles; they both have few comments and likes compared to the american brand, which has thousands of them and can always create interesting and involving discussion about several topics. Harley Davidson is an icon and therefore people who own one of its bikes feel part of a community and go to meetings eveywhere just to meet other community members , while Ducati is still a young company which was also recently bought by an automaker and, even if it has seen lately its sales skyrocketing, has still room for improvement and to establish its image and reputation all around the world. Honda has a good reputation and huge sales, though since it doesnt target a specific nice it cannot create as much passion and love as Harley Davidson can.

On Youtube, both the american and italian brand perform very well, with thousands of followers and hundreds of videos seen by millions of people; Honda as definitely less followers but certain videos have many views. Probably, in this case, the customers are interested in few news and they just from time to time check the channel and are so occasional viewers, whilst Ducati and harley Davidson seem to have more loyal customers who regurarly check the channel, comment and like the videos. On Twitter we are along the lines of Facebook and Youtube, with many followers for the italian and american brand and few for the japanese one. To conclude, we think that both Harley Davidson and Ducati are doing a good job (which can anyway be improved), since they are Lovermarks and can well involve customers, while Honda, which is a public multinational corporation, could dramatically improve its social media strategy, also given the fact that its the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world and its among the best teams in MotoGP.