Before you get hung up the ins and outs of automotive social media marketing, it’s important to take a step back. Why? Because it’s entirely possible that you’re ‘too close’ to have any real perspective on the importance of social media to the continued success of your dealership. Granted, saying such a thing might come across as somewhat condescending, but please…allow us to clarify.
Customer service has evolved, and you’ve either evolved with it or you’ve relegated yourself to be part of the ugly truth. To employ social media properly in bolstering the success of your dealership, you need to be prepared to check your preconceptions at the door. Be ready to go in with an open mind, investing in new levels of engagement and embracing aspects of customer service that you might have been guilty of disregarding in the past.
The Ugly Truth
In recent years, a record number of dealerships have changed hands from Baby Boomer-era management to the Gen-X heirs who had been groomed to succeed them. Representative of a generation that has slowly acclimated to online and social media lifestyles, the outgoing generation had been statistically slow to embrace the potential growth that such platforms could offer their businesses. And, while Gen-X (and their X-ennial subset) have remedied this in many ways, those born from the late-60’s to early-80’s have their own hardwired struggles. Being the eldest generation to transition seamlessly into social media integration, their comfort and familiarity rests with such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While (at least two of) those platforms continue to thrive as tools in commercial growth, they are largely considered to be outdated by the Millennial, Gen-Y and Z consumers that gain influence with each passing day. And yet, it’s those tech-savvy younger generations who are refining the algorithms and reshaping the trends that digital marketers need to play by.
The result is that an immense number of dealerships (as well as businesses, regardless of industry) fail to accept and/or recognize the crucial role that social media plays in their continued success. The resultant lack of investment in time, staffing or resources can lead to a haphazard social media presence or the complete absence of one altogether. And either of those situations can prove detrimental.
So, therein lies the ugly truth, a self-perpetuating generational disconnect between the wallet and the initiative. Not every dealership is guilty, but before you continue on, it’s probably worth taking a long hard look in the mirror and asking yourself if your team is aligned in recognizing the importance of social media.
Low Cost. Plentiful Benefits
For the sake of this piece, let’s direct our attention to Facebook. Whatever your opinions are of Facebook and the stream of content that you’re subjected to as one of its nearly 2 billion (monthly) active users, the simple truth is that the platform offers a little-to-no-cost means of creating positive buzz surrounding your dealership.
In part, this can be achieved through the creation and sharing of organic content. Simply by making content of interest available to a wider audience, you expand the general population’s awareness of your brand. And we don’t just mean the automaker brands, but the personal brand and culture that you want customers to associate with your dealership. But in terms of the vehicles themselves, sharing content empowers you to create a more informed customer base while asserting yourself as both an authority and a valued resource for them to come to in times of question. And if the content is compelling enough, it shares a better chance of being re-shared by the Facebook users who enjoyed it.
Regardless, social media activity also creates the opportunity to engage (or increase engagement) with existing and prospective customers alike. Whether achieved through the facilitation of two-way conversations in the comments of a post, or in creating posts that request responsive engagement, this humanizes your dealership and, in doing so, makes it more accessible to interested car-buyers.
It also allows you to lend a public face to your responsiveness while controlling the flow of any conversation. To the casual user, any direct acknowledgment or interaction with a comment (especially a negative or critical one) creates reassurance that your dealership is customer-centric to some degree. That, of course, is a major positive. And yet, that sense of service-minded responsiveness empowers you to redirect a conversation to a less-public means if necessary. That could mean the difference between having a dissatisfied customer air their dirty laundry publicly or diffusing the situation in a more private setting.
All of this helps to create a positive buzz around your dealership. Combine those benefits with the advertising functionalities of Facebook marketing, and it has never been easier to make your dealership (or any business) the center of the conversation, with relatively little cost.
Another reason why we focused on Facebook is simply because of its leading position in terms of social media marketing. With nearly 2 billion Users, it outranks YouTube’s 1.5 billion, Instagrams 700 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s 255 million. In fact, here are some other interesting Facebook statistics that you’d be foolish to turn a blind eye to.
Food For Thought
- It is estimated that 60 million businesses have a Facebook page.
- Even if younger social media users consider Facebook to be “for old people” 88% of people between the age of 18-29 are active Facebook users. This helps to explain Facebook’s effectiveness since most people over the age of 29 are likely to consider Facebook their primary social media platform.
- 82% of Facebook users have achieved some level of higher eduction, in fact, 79% are college graduates. This is important as it identifies a demographic that combines a youthful sense of consumerism, with a likelihood of suitable income to support one’s purchases.
- Each month, Facebook business pages yield approximately 5 billion comments (and with 42% of responses occurring within the first 60-minutes, you have expectations placed upon you to be as responsive as possible).
Make Social Media a Priority
With traditional marketing dying a slow death, it’s important to recognize that social media marketing (as part of a comprehensive digital marketing and SEO strategy) is imperative to your dealership’s continued success. It is the new word-of-mouth, and becomes the most visible means of auditing the level of customer service that you provide. Absence from social media, or lackluster management of a social media profile can be damning. That said, make certain (today) that social media management is incorporated into your prioritization of budget, staffing and resources.