There are many ways to get customers to become your Facebook fan. Giving them an incentive, such as Facebook fan only coupons, offers, or discounts is certainly of value to many customers. But, I urge you keep your Facebook fans by filling your FB page with good valuable, non-selling information. Give your customers content that they find interesting or valuable. For car dealerships this includes discussing community events and news. It can also include discussing car buying tips, news about your brand of cars, and fun little insights into life at your dealership. Make sure you show your human side.
The power of social media is in creating relationships that are long-lasting and trusting. So if you discuss ideas with your fans without trying to sell to them, they will come to you when it IS time to buy because they trust you. Scott Stratten of Unmarketing says it well when he says, "People do business with those they know, like, and trust."
The other advice I would give you to gain new fans to your page would be to include your Facebook URL on other marketing and advertising elements including your website, newspaper ads, and direct mail pieces.
Many of the companies that I've seen and are using Facebook well usually start with a giveaway to get an initial boost in fans. For instance this dealership I just found today has an Ipad giveaway for becoming a fan (I didn't feel right becoming a fan since I would never drive to Oklahoma for a car, but an Ipad is very tempting)
However, Katie had it right on when she talked about content. Anything you do to get fans is just cheap tricks and wasted money if you can't get interesting content that keeps them engaged. IMHO - You'll know you're doing it right when your existing fans start conversations of their own about you and start bringing new fans to your page.
Local news, local sports, funny or weird video all work really well. I noticed most community outreach posts tend to at least get someone to like the post. I'm sure others around here that work with social media only have more ideas than the few that stood out to me.
Phillip and Katie both have it right on the money. Study what they've contributed, but do so only after you can physically write down three very simple questions and answer them. You'll want to write these on a "white board" and invite other managers, salespeople, etc to review it with you and see if they concur.
First question: HOW will fans (buyers or not) benefit from being fans with you;
Second question: WHAT will you do CONSISTENTLY for your facebook fans;
Third question: WHY will your fans share your content with their friends.
You see the "market is a conversation" ... it isn't a receptacle for broadcasting. That said you're best servered by having people talk about their interests, things that matter (happened, might happen, or didn't happen) to them of their friends.
Think about this forum for example. How many posts are from ADM about what ADM wants you to do? Or do you see that the posts are from all sorts of individuals and businesses about what matters to them. Take that as your inspiration. As you think about the Gift or Coupon that you might give away, think about the one that you received from ADM. Didn't happen did it? Yes you could rightfully say that we're all here for a common interest... therein is the answer to your question. How do you make your facebook page more of a common interest to the conversation that's going on in the market? What on your page makes someone want to comment rather then just read? What on your page makes someone want to share with their friends? Figure those things out and you'll be making consumers and fans happy.
With that said let me leave you with a Morrison Maxim: "in social media, you're more successful with ONE fan being happy and interested with you 10 times over then you are with 10 fans being interested in you once."
Good luck - and do be sure to share with us what's working and what's not!
In addition to all of the comments that came before me, I think that selecting your friends based on common interests and then monitoring your friends Walls and activities -- including those of their friends -- is a valuable investment in your relationships which will extend the relevancy and viral nature of the fact that you are in the car business. I am not suggesting that you don't accept all friends; I am simply suggesting that you qualify and categorize their relationship with you and yours.
Face Book has the added value of allowing you to establish individual lists/groups of friends with common interests and privacy settings that allow you to further manage your community of friends to limit access to non-relevant information that you post as you post it. This managing and monitoring activitity will make your wall more personal and targeted when you post something that will be of interest to them or their other friends who may wish to add you to their list of friends and vice versa.
After all, what are friends -- and Face Book -- for!
Simply put, extending your network of friends to include the networks of the friends that you invite to join your online community is a good way to increase your spheres of influence. However, unless you limit your messages to post only things of interest on a group basis you will quickly become irrelevant and lose friends who don't care about your posts. Of equal importance is the ability and need to manage and monitor your own time on Face Book. The more that you organize your "data base" of friends the easier it will be to distribute a marketing message or shared opportunity to those who would not be offended by it. Of course the same rules of keeping it conversational vs. presentational still apply but if you chose your messages and your friends wisely that won't be an issue.
Post Facebook invites on your website, email signatures, in your ads / promotions, in the dealership with banners, at courtesy computer terminals in service waiting areas... Have content there when they arrive... continue updating a couple of times a week with relevant info, funny, and savings offers. Spend the time and effort... Facebook is a force to be dealt with, not ignored. Good Selling! DTG
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