Social media is not a sales channel, but it is a very powerful marketing tool that dealers can and should use to their advantage. However, it’s easy to get wrong. And plenty of businesses spend time and money posting into the abyss of social for little or no return. Here is a quick overview of social media basics for auto retailers.
Know your channels
Divebombing all the major social networks might sound like the best way to cover all your bases, but each platform has its nuances and can deliver different results. A recent report from market intelligence specialist, BrandTotal, found that Facebook is the most effective paid advertising platform for U.S. manufacturers. Followed by Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter in second, third, and fourth places.
The results of the 30-day study claimed Facebook was not only the top performer of the four, but also the better platform for engaging older—and presumably wealthier—audiences, while Instagram and YouTube got more attention from younger social media users.
That’s not to say you should plough all of your energies and budget into Facebook, but it pays to know the strengths of the various channels. Since the audience on each platform is different, take time to tailor your content to each platform. A lifestyle-themed Instagram post aimed at young consumers is unlikely to go down as well with LinkedIn’s business-orientated collective.
Plan what you publish
How many times have you seen a bland, self-promotional post from a corporate social media account? If you’re struggling to remember, log on to any platform and scroll down, because you’re guaranteed to find plenty.
Far too many company social media accounts are desperately dull and it’s easy for franchised dealers, in particular, to fall into the trap of consistently reposting vanilla content from their respective manufacturers. Memorable retailers—and those that attract plenty of attention—keep their posts bespoke, fresh, and relevant.
Content should be focussed around showcasing the business rather than relentlessly plugging it, and the timelier and more appropriate your posts, the better. Road Safety Week, for example, would be a good opportunity for posts about vehicle security features, and you’ll likely get greater visibility by using popular-in-the-moment hashtags. The same goes for trending news stories; keep an eye on the feeds and if you can find an appropriate link, get posting. You should be all over local events that are relevant to your customers.
How to monitor responses
Engaging with consumers is a fundamental part of any business’s social media operation—and they expect a quick response. It’s vital to have an effective monitoring system to make sure you catch and acknowledge comments or complaints at the earliest opportunity.
There is no shortage of platforms that allow you to do just that. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Brandwatch, are among the heavy hitters. Most tools offer scalable packages to suit different types and sizes of operation. For smaller dealers in particular, it can be a good idea to start with a relatively basic package and build it up according to your needs and goals.
How and when to break the rules
Social media is not an exact science. While there are rules of thumb to using it successfully, the constantly-changing nature of the platforms mean those rules aren’t etched in stone. For example, repeating posts is a guaranteed way to shed followers. Right? Not entirely.
There’s no sense in posting the same thing over and again, but even the social networks themselves have dispelled the idea that a moderate amount of reposting is harmful. Twitter claims that “consistency is a key factor when it comes to maximising your organic reach,” as the speed and expanse of social media means there’s no way your followers can keep up with all of your content, so a few pertinent reposts here and there are not a bad thing.
It’s also said that you should share others’ content more than your own, and specialists often talk of an 80/20 approach: 80% sharing others’ content and 20% independent content. This makes sense to a point; you want to be engaging with other users and avoid being seen as overly self-promotional. However, quality content is king. If your posts are interesting, useful, and relevant to your followers and customers, then it really doesn’t matter in the slightest if the bias shifts in the other direction.