Facebook Marketing for Car Dealers 101

Automotive Facebook Marketing
| Posted on | Socially Irresponsible

 

3 Reasons Car Dealers Fail at Facebook Marketing

#1 The Wrong Questions

Dealer’s are constantly asking me how they can drive more “In Market” or “Relevant Fans/Likes” to their facebook pages. It is in the question itself that dealers go wrong. Social Media isn’t a trick. You can’t approach it by prejudging the value of one fan or like over another. If you are determined to fight this truth then save yourself the time and investment. You will never be successful with Facebook Marketing using this approach.

The Right Question

How do I drive more fans/likes to my Facebook Page? The short answer: Hire Wikimotive to do this. The long answer: You’ll need to hire 10 social media professionals and provide them with access to a number of ISP portals. Then have them create a few hundred facebook accounts. They will need to work about 60 hours a week for a year to a year and a half engaging with people all over the country and becoming their friends. Once all of those accounts have a few thousand friends, you can begin inviting people to your fan page and you will begin to drive fans in high volume to your page.

Can you drive fans to your page without this huge investment? Sure, but it will take years. Remember, this is the car business. It’s a numbers game. You can have the best Social Media guru in the business writing awesome content on your Facebook page every day, but if no one is seeing it there will be no ROI. Thousand of people must WANT to visit your page every single day. You want them addicted to your page so every day they will visit your page, have a laugh or answer a question and get their daily fix. That is how you create powerful brand awareness. That is how you market to them without the target ever being aware that they were marketed to.

The Rebuttal

But my dealership is in Cincinnati! Why do I care about someone liking my page who lives in Houston, TX? Answer: Circle of Influence. Circle of what? Wikimotive’s most successful Facebook Marketing dealership is Marlboro Nissan. At the time of this post their fan page has 13,406 fans who like their page. Their fans are from all over the United States and some who take part in the pages daily content are even from other countries. Marlboro Nissan consistently sells over 20 cars a month as a result of their Facebook page because of the Circle of Influence of the pages fans.

What does this mean, Circle of Influence? Well the average Facebook user has 130 friends. Do the math (13,406 x 130) and Marlboro Nissan’s daily content has the potential to reach 1,742,780 people. Most dealer fan pages have between 300 and 600 fans. That’s a reach of 39,000 to 78,000 people. It takes a huge circle of influence to drive a significant number of consumers into your store on a consistent basis.

But you still haven’t told me why that fan in TX will be a sale in Cincinnati! Well that takes us back to the circle of influence. Many people have relatives or friends who live in other parts of the country. They are part of that circle of influence. Case in point: Just yesterday Karen Kaster, from Westford, MA, came to Marlboro to pick up her prize, an iPad she won by solving a very difficult challenge question on Marlboro Nissan’s fan page. After chatting for a while I asked how she became a fan of Marlboro Nissan’s page. Her response was all to common: “My brother lives in Indiana and is a fan of the page and he knew the answer. Since he wasn’t eligible to win the prize and he knew I was here in MA, he called me and told me to join the page. So I did!”

I congratulated Karen and wished her well when she said, “well actually, my husband needs a new car…” An hour later she was driving her husband’s Christmas present home, a brand new Nissan Altima. The point of the story isn’t that you need to give away an iPad to get a car sale. There are many other examples of people who came in because an out of market relative told them about our store because of our FB page. But it is because of the circle of influence that the individual fan that may live outside of the dealer’s market is a strong influencer upon people they may know who live in the dealer’s market. Remember, just like car sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people you can influence, the better your chance to create a sale and promote brand awareness.

#2 The Wrong Content

“The snow is coming! It’s a great time to come down to XYZ motors and buy a new Ford Explorer! Get your 4×4 before the snow sets in!” “Right now at ABC Auto Sales the new 2011’s just came in and we have 0% financing for a limited time!” “We just took in a great trade! an 8 year old accord with only 20k on it!” Does this sound like the crap your dealership is posting on their Facebook wall? Congratulations, you’ve discovered the #1 way to lose fans and alienate potential consumers.

People don’t spend time on Facebook so they can search for all the advertising they just fast-forwarded past on their Tivo or DVR. Facebook is supposed to be fun. Its a distraction – an escape. I mean if you really think about it, why the hell would anyone who isn’t in the car business have any interest at all in liking a dealership’s fan page anyway? They wouldn’t! Unless it was fun! Unless it was different! Unless there was that something that differentiated it from the usual crap dealers propogate.

Remember, they already know you’re a car dealer. Your page is named “XYZ Motors.”. If they actually clicked on your page, you’ve just succeeded. They already got marketing. They saw you’re name. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now reward them for coming there. Give them something they want! Talk about something fun or entertaining or controversial – WHATEVER YOU WANT EXCEPT THE CAR BUSINESS OR SALES AND OFFERS!

The best way to keep them involved with things that are socially relevant is to ask questions! Why questions? Because a question needs to be answered! Give a prize away once in a while when some one answers correctly! You’ll train them in the value of answering questions! That will keep them coming back. You never know when you might get a chance to win something! Now they’ll tell other people, “hey you won’t believe what XYZ motors is doing right before christmas! They’re giving away that widget that everyone wants! No really, there’s no catch they’re just giving them away if you can figure out this puzzle or riddle, etc”

Bottom line give them a reason to be there. Then give them a reason to come back.

#3 The Wrong Reason

Dealer’s are always looking for that magic bullet. “If I just get this new marketing program going, the up bus will come rolling in and we’ll sell!” A successful Facebook Marketing strategy isn’t going to help you sell more cars if you’re don’t already have a well trained sales staff. If they can’t get people in the door; if they’re not treating people right once they come in; if they’re not following up; if you’re store doesn’t have a strong commitment to their online reputation, then all Facebook will do is show more people why you suck and give them a forum to share stories about just how bad you suck.

Facebook Marketing is what to do when you’ve got a strong foundation and you’re looking to add incremental business; when you’re looking to enhance your brand awareness; when you’re looking to be more than “just another dealer”. If you’re looking for a quick fix, this isn’t it. It took 93 days to generate $153 in gross profit for Marlboro Nissan. It takes commitment and a long term strategy. It takes fighting the temptation to try and advertise on the wall when that one of a kind car that should be worthy of being posted there just came in. There is no car, no incentive, no special that is worthy of being posted on your dealer’s Facebook wall. Specials belong on a specials tab written in FBML – NOT THE WALL. Should I repeat that? THERE ARE NO ADS ON THE WALL…NONE…NEVER…EVER.

Successful Facebook Marketing requires that the dealer be humble enough to admit that they don’t already know how to do it and that it will take a long term commitment to be great at it.

3 thoughts on “Facebook Marketing for Car Dealers 101

  1. Fantastic read, Tim. Facebook marketing for automotive dealership definitely requires a bit more patience from the dealer’s side. There also needs to be a realization that – like you alluded to — it isn’t a glorified sales sheet: it’s a way to engage your customers and develop relationships.

    I’d like to share a blog that identifies important keys in building those relationships by being proactive in your social media efforts.

  2. Nice article Tim. It is very hard sometimes to get this information to sink in. It’s going to take time for dealerships to really embrace these facts, but they are slowly getting it.

    I have one disagreement to point #3. While I agree sales should not ever be made on the Facebook Wall. I think it is very important to use the wall once in a while to point the fans to your specials/offer/coupon tab. As new users may not know it is there, old users may have forgotten it’s there, and most users don’t go to your wall. They hang out on their own page and watch their news feed. That being said, it can be done in a casual social way. For instance, “FYI: I just updated the Specials tab with _____.” or “Thank you for being a fan, to show our gratitude we have a special deal just for you, go to our specials tab if you’re interested.”

    Maybe over a long period of time, they will get accustomed to going to that tab for a deal and it will be less necessary. But at some point they need to be told that the tab is there. Do you have a better idea for this issue?

    1. Hi Katie, I completely understand your feeling. How are we getting them to learn to market? Two things to keep in mind:

      1) Every post you make is marketing to them. Your name is your brand and every post is reminding them that you are a business and there to serve them when the time is right.

      2) There does exist content that can blur the lines between salesy and social. And those are your blog posts. Rather than post that you updated your specials tab, a better approach might be this:

      Write a blog post about the success of your Faceook page that recounts the last months “great moments” on Facebook. IE that ipod winner or the The turn out of Toy’s for Tot’s donations as a result of it gaining momentum (even if it didn’t) on Facebook and thank your fans.

      Finish by letting them know either that the new specials are up or tell them what date they will be able to view them. Then post that blog article to your Facebook page! Now you’re not selling on the wall. Yet, those people who might have found a salesier message relevant at that moment have a path for conversion while those who didn’t want it have no reason to hide you. Win-win. What’s more, if you’re smart you have all your FB posts automatically tweet thereby influencing another social sector with valuable content.

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