The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) gets underway today in Detroit. Now in its 28th year as an international event, the 2016 NAIAS is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world. With more than 5,000 credentialed journalists from over 60 countries expected to attend the upcoming show, many of the automakers and suppliers exhibiting at NAIAS will garner considerable visibility globally for their part in the car industry.

But, many of these manufacturers seem to be stuck in second gear when it comes to using video marketing to generate even more visibility globally on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine.

The Car Industry and Video Marketing

Now, Detroit has hosted an auto show for over a century. So, I’m not arguing that automotive marketers should skip this annual event, which attracts the public as well as the press. What I am saying is that the brands need to shift into a higher gear if they want to keep up with the influencers in the automotive category. According to Tubular’s General Automotive Leaderboard, 265 creators in the United States and Canada uploaded videos to one of the four major video platforms over the past 365 days. These videos have received 11.7 billion (yes, that billion with a “B”) views.

In first place in the General Automotive category is the Motor Trend Channel, which has 7,257,851 followers overall (3,696,901 on YouTube; 2,949,967 on Facebook; 334,226 on Instagram; and 276,757 on Twitter). The Motor Trend Channel got 23,754,148 views in November 2015 (23,394,169 on YouTube; 292,499 on Facebook; and 67,480 on Instagram).

Now, Motor Trend magazine has been published since September 1949. But, that doesn’t mean that it was better positioned to leverage video marketing than automakers and suppliers that have been in business even longer. Heck, Red Bull is a media company disguised as an energy drink company. So, the only limit on what a brand can do on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Vine is “the vision thing.”

So, if gearheads get their automotive adrenaline charge on the Motor Trend channel, then most major automakers have no one to blame but themselves. From first drives and tests of the hottest new supercars and classic muscle cars to the latest automotive news from around the world, to the incredible machinery and personalities from beyond the automotive mainstream, the Motor Trend channel has it all, delivered daily. For more premium video content, auto enthusiasts can visit Motor Trend OnDemand.

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In second place in the General Automotive category is Toyota USA, which has 3,650,211 followers overall (125,793 on YouTube; 2,628,537 on Facebook; 323,418 on Instagram; 19,367 on Vine; and 553,096 on Twitter). Toyota USA got 31,452,008 views in November 2015 (6,521,240 on YouTube; 24,770,131 on Facebook; 152,379 on Instagram; and 8,258 on Vine).

In third place is 1320Video, which provides some of the best street car videos around the United States. It has 4,669,767 followers overall and got 29,902,980 views in November. In fourth place is Honda with 5,380,097 followers overall and 1,819,633 views in November. In fifth place is Ford Today with 5,305,502 followers overall and 3,073,854 views in November. In sixth place is BMW USA with 3,123,789 followers overall and 4,476,798 views in November.

North americam auto show But where are other automotive brands like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, KIA, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo? Well, they are all going to be at NAIAS. But, to be charitable, let’s just say they rank lower in Tubular’s General Automotive Leaderboard than Daily Military Defense & Archive, maxman.tv, and Haggard Garage.

That’s what I mean about being stuck in second gear.

How big an opportunity are they missing? Well, as I mentioned back in November, consumers are increasingly turning online to research and review the car they are looking to purchase, and video is playing a big part in the customer sales cycle. Nearly 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched. And views on YouTube of test drives, features and options, and walk-throughs have doubled in the past year.

So, as the auto industry gathers in Detroit today, I’ve got to wonder why so many automakers seem to be driving into the future with their eyes firmly focused on the rear view mirror. Only a handful seem to have a clear vision of what an effective or successful video marketing program looks like.