You don’t have to be a digital marketer to recognize the fact that social media, in all forms, presents an opportunity. Every social media user, regardless of platform used, opens themselves to the possibility of being marketed to. Then again, every social media user also gains the opportunity to become a marketer themselves. In terms of both images and text, every post creates the opportunity for brand reinforcement (whether that brand is personal, professional or commercial in nature). And every bit of engagement, from ‘like to share’, ‘comment to retweet’ has the potential of taking that opportunity and multiplying the dividends exponentially.
Considering what this could mean to a dealership, it’s more crucial than ever for digital marketers to utilize impactful social media practices within any automotive marketing strategy. That said, the question which remains is whether or not your dealership’s strategy is employing those best practices. So here’s 7 tips to keep in mind, when reviewing, building or rebuilding your digital strategy.
The Opportunity for Brand Reinforcement
At the risk of sounding redundant, the viral nature of the social media experience is the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising. For better or worse, most people will rush online to share either a positive or negative consumer experience, and those comments can easily gain far-reaching traction.
While the above impacts most every point that we’ll discuss in this article, its most direct correlation is felt when discussing brand awareness. With generation shifts aging the Baby Boomers and Traditionalists into smaller consumer demographics, the impact of traditional marketing (print ads, radio spots, local and network commercials) is minimized, forcing such formats into either obscurity or evolution.
And while social media expands the breadth of the potential audience, it also empowers a dealership to create a tailored audience. This allows the dealer to present themselves, their inventory and array of services offered to those who need to see it, maximizing the impact of their message. In turn, 91% of marketers agree that effective social media strategies have served to enhance awareness of their brand within the consumer base.
Remember, millions of new drivers hit the streets each day. By ‘speaking the language’ of your fastest-growing pool of new customer conversions, you are empowering yourself to enjoy a far greater return on your investment.
Calculating the cost of every client conversion from the overall cost of the marketing initiatives which yield them exposes the ugly truth of how much it cost the dealership to gain that new client. And in contrast to the high cost of traditional marketing methods, social media provide a cost-effective manner of delivering, what might be, a far greater impact.
Granted, when we talk about traditional marketing we’re not talking about a $5 million Super Bowl ad. We’re not even talking about the $350 thousand cost of 30-second spot during the ‘Big Bang Theory, or the $125 thousand it might cost for a less-popular series. Depending on the publication, an 8×10 magazine ad can cost as much as $500 thousand. Evan a billboard, appealing to motorists, can run up to $23 thousand dollars per 4-week run in the city of Boston. It’s a significant expense, and the ROI is debatable, at best. That said, a budgeted, targeted use of Facebook advertising could mean an exponentially higher audience at an exponentially lower rate.
FOUR WAYS to Show That You Know Your Audience
As a dealership, you understand that your customer base consists of wide range of preferences. Outside of whether they’re shopping for new or used, they might be partial to a particular style of vehicle, make, model or trim level. And for a majority of those discriminating factors, there exists a fan base (or at least an interested party).
- We discussed above, why the overall low cost, and ability to customize your audience serves of a validation of social media marketing. But don’t get lazy with your automotive posts. Take pride in crafting quality content tailored to those discriminating enthusiast fan bases. From adventurous Jeepers to safety conscious SUV enthusiasts, the story of a vehicle extends beyond its factory specs. Tell the stories specific to a particular brand, make or model, and you’ll be setting yourself apart as a reliable resource.
- Create content with geography in mind. In doing so you be providing original content that is representative of your dealership and relatable to the community which it serves. Consider how much an off-roader might shop your dealership, if you provide content relative to the must-see trails and terrains of your geography. Think of how relatable drivetrain or safety-features become when presented with local weather conditions in mind. Social media can have a huge impact locally, don’t waste the opportunity.
- If you’re publishing content in blog form, that content can (and should) be syndicated on your social media platform. Expanding the reach of your professional influence can be achieved through long-form blog entries just as it is through short-form posting. If you’re choosing the right content, people will read it.
- And remember, when it comes to inventory posts, differentiators are important. Anyone can craft rigid breakdowns of a particular vehicle, but catchy wording and top-notch images within a Vehicle Description Page can make it far more enticing, and likely to drive traffic.
Remember, as an automotive professional, there may be no-one better suited to engage with passionate enthusiasts and laypersons alike. Talk about what’s new. Talk about what’s loved. Hell, talk about what’s hated. Just get people talking.
Traditional marketing is one-sided, with the marketer speaking at an audience that has no means of responding to it. The difference offered by social media, of course, is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows a dealer to reach a wider audience. On the other hand, it fuels the consumer expectation of responsiveness from the dealer themselves.
Some might view that as a negative, but organic engagement with existing and prospective clients is a perpetual opportunity for success. Even less-desirable engagement, such as public complaints and criticisms, empower a dealership to turn vinegar into wine (or make chicken soup out of chicken sh*t). People ARE reading the comments, and they WILL take notice.
Engagement reinforces your brand, with the the quality of engagement serving as an extension of the post or campaign itself. Responsiveness matters. Resolution matters. In respecting that, you guarantee yourself greater customer satisfaction while strengthening brand loyalty.
So, There You Have It…
Be smart. Look at the economies and opportunities presented by social media. Utilize it in the best way possible by asserting yourself as an authority, while locating (and hopefully converting) a wider audience through quality content and audience targeting. Success is there for the taking. What you do with the opportunity, is up to you.