When we talk about Automotive Social Media Marketing, we’re surprised by just how many people fail to grasp the breadth of the topic. In fact, looking across any number of industries only serves to reinforce the shocking realization that many businesses are attempting to market themselves in a state of ignorant bliss.
Of course, we mean ‘ignorant’ in the most passive of interpretations. In many cases, businesses are either (i) unaware of platforms available to them (ii) unaware of how to best utilize those platforms, or (iii) unaware of the differences between said platforms. Even worse are those businesses who seem unaware that social media has all-but replaced traditional marketing methods including, in many ways, word-of-mouth.
With that in mind, it’s imperative for dealerships to increase their understanding of the options available to them. But it’s even more important for them to increase their understanding of the rules – and the sensitivities – that will help to determine their continued success (or lack thereof).
“But we’re on Facebook!”
While intended as an affirmation of one’s modern marketing sensibility, it’s been quite some time since a (most likely ill-formatted) Facebook profile was capable of optimizing one’s social media presence. Since you’re a successful dealership, we’re going to assume that you’re all too aware of this and have long-since determined the best platforms to deliver various messages and campaigns, based on the specific strengths of each platform. We’re certain you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. 😉
But for just one second, let’s pretend that Facebook IS the only platform that you need to be concerned with. Why Facebook? Simply because it’s the most universal and relatable to Millennials, Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers alike. This will, of course, change with Gen Z-ers entering the consumer marketplace, but let’s focus on the platforms most commonly supported by the consumer demographics who control the majority of spend. The ideas explored can be extrapolated across various other platforms, PLUS it’s worth pointing out that Facebook provides easy sharing across most platforms so why not start there?
Scrolling through our newsfeeds, we’ve all experienced viral content. From hilarious videos to political propaganda, content of all kind is shared enthusiastically by social media users who appreciate it. That appreciation might be superficial, but it can also be quite sincere. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to argue that the latter helps to present social media at its best. Remember the Boston Marathon Bombing (almost six years ago)? The speed and enthusiasm with which information was being shared was instrumental in helping authorities to track down the suspects. And while it’s an unfair comparison to something as trivial as marketing, it’s one of the best indications of the power held by social media platforms.
Switching gears back to marketing, the goal is to create engaging content. If your existing customer base is willing to sing your praises, the right social media campaign doubles as a microphone and power amp, amplifying the volume of their accolades for the benefit of a larger audience. That’s where engagement becomes its most potent. You just need to know the rules…
The Rules of Engagement
When it comes to the creation of engaging social media content, there are a handful of ‘rules’ to keep in mind. Okay, not really ‘rules’ per se, but valuable considerations designed to help
- Determine the Goal – what are you looking to achieve? Identifying the objectives of a marketing initiative
- Choose the Platform – while there is an ever-growing selection of Social Media platforms out there, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat still sit atop the heap. Of these, each has its own strengths and limitations. It’s important to know the difference and adapt your content accordingly
- Know Your Audience – it’s the first thing they teach you when it comes to public speaking. The same applies to marketing, ensuring that you’ve tailored your content to the sensibilities of the audience that you’re appealing to. Otherwise you might be guilty of doing more than saying the wrong thing – you might be speaking the wrong language altogether
- Stir Emotion – no-one’s stopping you from creating another video where your principal (or an aesthetically pleasing member of your team) stands in front of your impressive inventory. Unfortunately, you’ve already lost your audience. People want to be invested, more than ever. The challenge is up to you to find out how to form that connection with prospective customers…while looking no further than the common ground you share
- Understand the Importance of Timing – get topical. Posting to commemorate a local sports victory might be the most simplified version of (i) utilizing timing to (ii) stir emotion with (iii) the local community on (iv) Facebook to (v) drive up engagement on your page. But there are so many more creative ways to go about it; all you need is a continued awareness of what’s going on in the world around you, and a willingness to curate content around it
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
Once you understand the rules of content creation, it’s important to remind yourself that playing it safe tends to yield a median result. This month, we’ve been talking a lot about the inherent dangers of existing within an echo chamber. And the rationale behind stepping outside of cyclical thinking surely applies to marketing.
All-too-often, principals and marketers become so obsessed with brand identity that stagnancy sets in. A brand becomes tired, redundant and its appeal diminishes with each tired rehashing of the same style, color palette and message. This is why automakers continue to tweak their offerings between major restylings; they understand the power of keeping things fresh.
Now think of the Super Bowl. While one might argue that some of the impact of Super Bowl ads is diminished by early internet leaks (I, for one, agree) there is no greater televised forum for innovative ad placement. And in 2019, a 30-second ad to be aired by CBS during Super Bowl LIII will range from $5.1 to $5.3 million.
It’s really no wonder that so many risks are taken. It’s about setting (or re-setting) the bar so that your commercial is the one people are talking most about. And while few local dealerships have the luxury of marketing at that level, the mindset applies. Set aside the tired tropes of your corporate brand, or your preconceived notions regarding image. Conceive a fresh approach. Personalize the message. Inject personality. Have fun. The revitalization of your dealership’s advertising through fresh, organic content presented to them on their preferred social media platforms will help to recharge your initiatives and propel you forward.
Take It Away
In the eyes of today’s consumer, your social media presence is an extension of everything your business stands for. In fact, by digital marketing standards, an investment in social media stands as one of the most affordable investments in brand awareness (monetarily or resource-wise) with some of the highest potential for return.
If you don’t consider social media to be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy, the ugly truth is that your efforts might already be outdated by the better part of a decade. But if you’re simply failing to recognize all the ways that social media can be put to work for you, there’s still time to correct your course.
Choose the right platform (or platforms). Tailor your content and approach for those platforms and their respective audiences. Reinforce your brand in bold and refreshing ways. Utilize targeting and promotional capabilities to increase visibility and engagement.
From that point on it, your potential for success comes down to the strength of your service and the appeal of your approach in the eyes of the consumer. That said, no-one remembers the ads and campaigns that play it safe, repeating the same old methods while expecting new results.