When it comes to car shopping today, social media sites are a significant influencer in a car buyer’s decision making journey.
Today, marketers understand that social sites need to be integrated into the marketing strategy.
Brands that truly embrace social media brands have a fully integrated social marketing approach to generate leads and engage with customers.
With more and more consumers turning to social, the automotive industry needs to get fully engaged with social selling.
Social media is significant and is only going to continue to grow in influence.
In fact, 84% of all car shoppers are on Facebook with 24% of these consumers used Facebook as a resource for making their vehicle purchases.
We can assume that every auto dealer regardless of size is on Facebook.
Most dealerships already have a social media profile in place and perhaps post every so often, that’s the easy part and takes little forethought or planning.
A starting point is avoiding those all too common dealership social media misunderstandings, flaws, errors, mistakes… whatever, you want to call it.
If your dealership doesn’t think that is worth investing time or effort in social media, here’s a simple fact:
40% of users online are actively making the decision on what car to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms, including reviews and recommendations, and this effect is only set to grow.
Do you still want to ignore this critical channel that gives your dealership the opportunity to interact with and engage with your consumer?
The most dangerous mistake to avoid in your social media marketing (SMM) strategy is not having a plan.
For example, do you know which social media platforms are the most effective in the auto industry? Which platforms your target audience uses? What time of day are they online?
Having a plan will help you manage the time you spend on social media while maximizing your success and ROI.
A good social media plan should consider your goals, and the action steps need to accomplish these.
You need to set realistic goals and then measure against the goal. Be prepared to spend a few weeks dialing in your goals and what is practical, then once you have fine-tuned these, now it’s all about execution.
A social media plan is critical; social media may not charge for the use of the platforms. However, it is still an investment in time and resources to develop and maintain your social media presence.
Without a clear, well thought out strategy that complements your overall marketing plan, you have no way to know if your campaigns are successful.
The SOSTAC Framework
This SOSTAC Planning Framework guides you with setting up a social media plan:
The steps include:
If you lack the time, resources, know-how or desire to take the time and effort to create a social media plan and would like assistance we can create a tailored social media strategy for you. This is the first step we undertake before we launch any social media campaign. This allows us to work together as a partner and sets clear direction and goals.
How often have you looked at a companies social media account and every single post is all about them. It’s about their product, how great they are, its all about them.
This is one of the most significant turns off there is, and no one wants to interact with this type of account. Social media is about being social and engaging with others.
Social media is about trading opinions, asking for another point of view, entering into a dialogue. Posting content that engages and drives a discussion then participating in the conversation.
Social media is not the place to post your ads.
A big mistake that we see time and time again from dealerships is every single post is an ad for a car they are trying to sell, including the price and specs.
Consumers come to social media to hang out, socialize, talk about current events, read posts, read reviews, explore and read engaging or entertaining content.
The last thing they want to deal with is a car dealership pushing a car. Doing this reinforces the low perception that consumers have of auto dealers and the low level of trust they have for dealers.
Dealerships need to create a mix of content that your followers can interact with.
This can be anything from an upcoming car show, a customer review, an article on “How to” article. Examples of “How to check your tire pressure before you leave for that summer vacation,” “Summer is approaching, is your air conditioning ready, here are the steps to check to see if you need service” and similar.
Don’t be afraid to post a link to a funny story, for example; recently an Uber driver drove down a set of city stairs in San Francisco because the Uber GPS told him to do so. This is a quick way to reinforce the need for drivers to consider the safety features of the cars you sell, without being salesy.
The goal is to make your social media account interesting, engaging and interactive and ideally drive customer engagement on the content and share it with their friends.
Managing your social media accounts with a plan that isn’t just pushing cars is a way to boost your online presence, which in turn will help boost your brand visibility and make you a valued member of the community.
Every social media channel is different, and the customers that use each platform are different. This is why it’s important to customize what you post on each and every social media channels you use. What works well for one channel may not work on another platform.
Example of a Customer Review and News Content Facebook Posts
For example, Facebook would be a great channel to post car videos aimed at potential customers whereas on LinkedIn this type of content would be a total failure. LinkedIn can be used to post job openings, articles about how to maintain your vehicle and company news.
Below is a quick guide to the type of content that should be shared on the various social media platforms:
To see the benefits of multi-channel marketing that includes social media marketing, please read 4 Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing For Car Dealerships.
A multi-channel presence is critical to boost brand visibility and offer several ways for your customers o engage with your brand and dealership.
It is as important to realize that you do not need to be everywhere and on every single social media platform, there is. There are some places that your dealership just shouldn’t go.
Spend the time and effort to research where your target audience is spending their time on social media and online; you will be able to understand where your presence is needed and where you can focus your efforts.
Wasting your time and resources putting effort into social channels that get little to no visibility will make your dealership look like an uninvited guest to a party. You don’t want to be seen as the outcast in the corner waiting for someone to talk to them.
It’s better to focus on creating great quality content for a few social media platforms than spreading yourself too thin across every platform available.
Consistency is the key when it comes to social media.
How can you build trust with your audience if you’re there one day and gone the next and don’t return for a week?
What message does this send to your audience?
Effective social media means that you’re alive, active, engaging and engaged; online users will trust brands that showcase this, and their efforts are rewarded with brand advocacy and increased sales.
There is a balance between posting too little and posting too much, and you need to find the balance.
By focusing on quality verses quantity, it’s relatively easy to find the balance that engages your audience without bombarding them with posts that make them despondent.
A good rule of thumb is to post once to twice a day on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is great for the automotive industry since it is so visual-based allowing for creativity with images.
Be sure to check back on the feeds several times a day that you can engage with your fans and respond to their comments or handle any customer service issues that may be posted.
Some days it is a struggle to set time aside to stay on top of your social media accounts, or you feel like you need some assistance with social media management, you could consider partnering with a marketing agency (like us). This affords you access to the skills and experience of seasoned social media management immediately, which is an excellent benefit as 72% of creative leaders do not have time to develop their team members.
Social media is excellent for promoting your dealership brand visibility online, engaging with consumers and more. That stated, the goal and most important element of any digital marketing strategy are generating leads and closing sales.
For example, if you post a picture on Facebook of one of your cars (its safe to post an image, a special offer or video of a car or deal of the week once every 5 posts). You should also include a link and a clear call-to-action (CTA) that will inform your followers on where they can find out more information or submit an inquiry instantly.
Then make sure you follow up on these leads.
There is nothing worse than generating leads and letting them fall into a dark hole, never to be seen again. This also hurts all of the goodwill that you have created through social media and kills your reputation.
Remember, word spreads fast on social media.
It is also a great idea to incorporate the CTAs into your social profiles. This will make it a lot easier for your potential customers to contact you like the image below.
The digital talent gap is widening, which contributes to the fear of missing out (FOMO) within the digital marketplace and not dedicating the manpower required to meet the demand. The need for rapid skill development is more significant today than ever before in history. Dealerships and companies, in general, need to invest in training to adjust to the disruption driven by digital technologies, such as social media, AI and soon virtual reality.
The key to tackle the talent gap in is to invest in learning about it, including staying current on social media and social trends. On-going training will help you be kept up-to-date and leaves no room for the knowledge gap to widen. A marketing agency can provide you immediate help when you need it most.
Social media can make or break reputations. Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy and learn how to react appropriately and quickly to feedback or comments made by your online customers is important and not to be overlooked.
Now and then we come across a Facebook page of a dealership with negative comments or poor customer reviews (it happens to all of us) with no reply at all from the dealership for days between the reviews and the responses and sometimes just ignored by the dealership.
This leaves preception with the dealerships online audience that the dealership doesn’t care and there is no customer service in the business. The dealership sold the car and now doesn’t care about its customers.
Dealerships need to remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Dealerships need to take the time to respond to positive comments as well as negative ones.
Bear in mind, the way you respond will speak volumes to your audience.
Here are a few action steps to keep in mind when responding to both positive and negative comments online:
Be careful though not to fall into the trap of arguing with trolls, you will get sucked into a vortex that serves no purpose other than to inflame in most instances. Trolls are people who have nothing better to do than post rants on every online platform they can find.
Want To Avoid Making These Social Media Mistakes?
Ideally, you’ve gained some insight as to why social media is critically important for the automotive industry and dealerships in particular. In addition to what you should avoid doing in social media channels to make the most out of this robust marketing strategy.