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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

JD Rucker Founder

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5 Undeniable Truths About Automotive Social Media

Automotive Social Media

It's okay if you've given up on the idea of selling cars or increasing service penetration through social media. On Driving Sales, it's likely that the majority of dealers have tried and found varying degrees of success or failure, whether on their own, through a vendor, or a hybrid of the two.

The reason that' it's okay for you to give up is because true automotive social media marketing requires a full commitment. You're either all the way in and you're embracing it wholeheartedly or you're simply maintaining a good presence without investing much time or any money. The in-between areas are pretty much worthless.

To get a better understanding of what this means, let's take a look at five truths that my team has found to be completely undeniable.

1. Small is the New Big

Everyone knows how big social media is. For dealers, the key is to get stronger reach and put your message in front of the right people by getting smaller. That doesn't mean you need shorter posts. That means that you should be taking advantage of the targeting capabilities and data that makes social media special.

2. Go on Offense or Defense, not Special Teams

We're using a little internal terminology here, but let me explain. We give clients two choices - going on the offensive with aggressive, "all-in" social media designed to go after local people who are in-market for a vehicle purchase, or going on the defensive by investing very little time and as little budget as possible (if any) to maintain a presence that represents the dealership well enough to pass muster. 

When we refer to "special teams" play on social  media, we're referring to what some dealers (and most vendors) are doing - trying (or pretending) to go on the offensive with social media but without putting the right mix of time, energy, budget, and strategy that can actually make it successful. The results of special teams play means that there's an ever-so-slight chance of scoring, but for the most part it's extra effort without any more benefit than a less-aggressive defensive posture.

3. Facebook and Twitter are Pay-to-Play (and the others are moving in that direction)

There is no such thing as true organic reach potential on for car dealers. One out of hundreds can ever achieve it and few in the world have been able to sustain it in the last few months since Facebook and Twitter have changed the way they operate with dealers.

Between Facebook's algorithm and Twitter's noise, you really have to be putting some, though not a lot, of budget towards your social media marketing.

4. Strategy Rules Over Frequency

In the world of search marketing, more is usually better. The more keywords you rank for organically or buy through PPC, the better. That's not necessarily the case with social media.

It would not be hard for a dealership to have a successful social media presence with one or two posts per week. It is very easy to have a very bad social media strategy with several posts a day. That's not to say that posting less is better. That just means that the strategy determines the frequency and not the other way around.

5. Social Supports Other Marketing Efforts (at least it should)

Even after the infamous Google video that denies social signals affect search rankings, they still came out and demonstrated ways that social media can be used to improve search rankings. They're not talking out of both sides of their mouths. They're simply making sure that SEOs understand the distinction between causality and direct benefit.

Traditional, website, and 3rd-party advertising and marketing can all use social media to benefit them and visa versa. Even with a defensive social media stance, it's possible to integrate social with other strategies to fulfill your needs.

Buying In

For some of you, it's a matter of embracing social media. For others, it's a matter of getting others at the dealership to embrace it. Social media can help improve business, and not just in an intangible way. It's more than branding. It's aggressive strategies. It's a lot of things, really, that make social media work. Unfortunately, that means that most dealers aren't doing it properly right now.

If you need help becoming convinced that it works or you want to try to convince someone else that an offensive posture can be truly beneficial, please feel free to ask me for help. I can walk you through the possibilities.

Grant Gooley
GREAT POINTS! Pay to play is disregarded in so many dealers social campaigns. It seems as though the common thought is "If I have a Facebook Page and make a post every day, Im good". When really I think it's just a total waist of time. Social strategy needs to be looked at like a more focused, data driven, detailed Google PPC strategy.
Robert Karbaum
I agree with Grant. The feeling I have these days is a complete overhaul. You can't just change the oil on your social strategy, you need to strip down the engine and completely rebuild.
Mark Dubis
Tyson, great information, but the most valuable point is number 5. Social media efforts and spending needs to be part of a holistic marketing strategy and unfortunately most auto retailers are very poor at marketing and building their local brand. Before spending any money on social media the dealer needs to have something worth talking about. That can and should be great employees, loyal customers, community involvement, and a culture in the store that encourages "doing the right thing." Spending on social media before these are in place is like constructing the roof before the walls are built.
Randall Welsh
I like what is covered here. The real elephant in the room, is "Is social Media worth the Energy"? Here is my take: Basic social media is good, as it helps with the "Good" to offset the "Bad". The social media train, has been in the past, "I am mad", therefore I am on social media letting everyone know! Take that! Lets be realistic, social media may not sell the dealership services/sales, but it sure stops service/sales, by viral messaging! Telling my friends. The real issue here, is the current marketing process dictated by the OEM (Forcing) recommending what they feel is important. NOT! A full circle, integrated approach to marketing and customer connectivity is the "Key" to success. A COMPLETELY integrated look, feel and branding is the answer. Unfortunately OEM's and Dealers use multiple vendors (enrolled by multiple employees) to send multiple communications that do not portray the overall effect (end-game) desired. Having a committed look, feel and branding across all vendors will produce the optimal effect. That being retention, new customers, referrals and trust. That is the turtle versus the hare.

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