The Why’s and How’s of Gaining Influence in 2019

When we think of auto advertising, it’s easy for us to default to the iconography that has proved successful since the infancy of televised automotive marketing back at the midpoint of the 20th century. Beauty shots of shiny new vehicles, handling impeccably around tight corners. All engine, road and wind noise removed in the editing process and replaced with hints of engineered sound peeking through upbeat music that (if well-selected) encouraged brand identity. We imagine aerodynamic testing, with gale-force winds made visible as it pours around the sleek body of a sculpted sedan. We picture crash testing to reassure us of a vehicle’s safety ratings. We envision time-lapse video of headlights and taillights on city streets and highways. We see couples and families, happily united within their perfect choice of vehicle.

But that kind of marketing exists at the highest possible level, created at the behest of the automaker themselves to encourage their own branding. And while it certainly captivates prospective buyers, encouraging them to seek out whatever vehicle is the subject of said video, it’s hardly the most impactful means of delivering new customers to your dealership’s front door.

This month we’ve talked about a number of ideas, ranging from the ever-growing importance of video content, to the implementation of AI as a means of creating a more satisfying, and customer-centric online experience. We’ve even touched on the crucial relationship that word-of-mouth marketing plays in the continued success of the modern business. That said, the diversity of social media platforms can prove implementation a bit daunting for businesses of all kinds. Proper use requires the kind of honest introspection which allows you to give followers a peek behind the proverbial curtain, while equally understanding the potential danger of over-sharing. And while most everyone is comfortable with Facebook at this point, it’s important for dealerships to look elsewhere, as well.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer Marketing represents a partnership between your dealership and a spokesperson whose presence on social media platforms such as Instagram comes with a dedicated and engaged following. Think of it as the social media equivalent of a television commercial featuring a famous actor, athlete or musician. It’s a celebrity endorsement, intended to increase the level of excitement that the social media audience feels for your dealership.

Not sure if Influencer Marketing is in your best interests? Well, it’s been estimated that 89% of online consumers feel an effective influencer endorsement can positively impact their feelings about a product or service. In fact, 72% of respondents from one study have admitted to making a purchase as a direct result of an Instagram post. It’s really no surprise that nearly 4 out of 5 marketers have identified Instagram as their top social media marketing platform, especially with IG earning over a billion “likes” a year.

Finding the Right Fit

Any search for an influential collaborator should come with a rigorous process to rule out anyone that doesn’t align with you in terms of ‘The Three R’s’.

First, ‘Relevance’. Partnering with an individual whose personal brand, or style of content doesn’t align with the image or intent of your dealership is a wasted endeavor. For example, do they like cars? Do they post about them? Do they support your automotive brand? If so, you might have found the perfect online partner.

Next, ‘Reach’. To be certified by Instagram as an Influencer, the user must have accrued a significantly well-sized audience while maintaining a certain level of engagement with them. Finding a worthwhile influencer comes with the fact that their follower base should be substantial enough to increase the reach of your message exponentially. If they aren’t able to offer that kind of bolstering fanbase, they may not be the ideal fit for your efforts.

Finally, ‘Resonance’ addresses the applicability of your measure to an audience of the right size (or effectively you resonate with the audience). Many marketers believe in the strength of the “micro-influencer”, an engaged and attentive user with 5,000 to 25,000 followers. Partner with the right one, and you might just have the best cross-marketing partners imaginable.

Know Your Audience

Remember, as a dealership, you have a wide array of products and services to offer, each of which may speak to a different audience. With that in mind, it’s as important to identify who your audience is as it is to find an Influencer with a brand consistent to your own. Once you’ve found them, you can begin to work with your “Influencer” partner to determine the best possible strategy. By combining the strengths of your respective brands, and conveying a singular and consistent message, you might be surprised by the extent of engagement that you receive.

Consistency is Key

We spoke about finding the right fit in terms of influencer content, but consistency is key when it comes to aesthetics, tone and perception of values. For example, a dealership in the Bible Belt shouldn’t pursue the main-stage performer at a gentlemen’s club to help promote the dealer’s values. But when a partnership is well-conceived and executed, it can be enjoyable to create a unique brand for content posts, one that is complimentary of both brands without appearing to be a jarring break from the aesthetic of either.

This can come down to lighting, composition, backgrounds and can also be a great means of framing an image within the context of the dealership itself. By doing the latter, you are reinforcing your brand identity in a means tangible to any prospective visitor to your dealership. You are, in fact, putting the proof in the pudding.

Avoid Sponsorship Saturation

Sponsored posts can be a great means of utilizing a social media platform to put your content in front of the right readers. However, the perceived importance of a sponsored post can be minimized if it’s surrounded by other sponsored posts (let alone others from the same user). This can shatter the illusion of social media marketing, or more importantly, that we’re being marketed to.

Oversaturation of Influencer-centric content can also be a mistake. Not only will it diminish the personal strength of your brand, but it can place undue strain upon your relationship with the influencer, as it forces them to create and post and excessive amount of content in a short period of time.

Is an Influencer Relationship Right for You?

Maybe you’ve considered it, but then again, maybe you haven’t. It’s clear to see that Influencers aren’t going anywhere, and will be a major component of many marketing strategies in the years to come. That said, it might very well be something that you want to consider as you’re mapping out your strategy for 2019 (and beyond).

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