As car dealers become more interesting in using social media to promote their web presence, the first site that normally comes to mind is Facebook
. With nearly 300 million users worldwide and close to 25% of ALL page views on the Internet attributed to Facebook
, it's easy to see why businesses see it as a lucrative online venue for driving traffic, leads, and sales.
This is one part of a five part series that will be posted on various sites. It covers the basics: a 30,000 foot view of the various social media sites as well as easy, practical ways that the sites can be used.
Why Do Car Dealers Need Facebook?
Beyond the obvious upside of an amazing user-base, Facebook offers something that no other website in history has ever offered: truly personal connectivity. While other sites have tried to get the masses to universally accept and promote their sites, Facebook is the first to succeed at getting users to be truly passionate advocates in the millions. Many who gets started on Facebook become instantly surprised at the connections they are able to make with former acquaintances, old friends, and lost family members.
What does that have to do with the car business? I'll explain shortly.
Accounts vs Pages
An entire class could be held regarding the best ways to use Facebook to promote your dealership. For now, we'll focus on the basics. If you don't have a personal Facebook page now, it's important for you to create one now. You may feel the urge to create a profile for the dealership only. This would be a mistake.
One important rule that Facebook tries to enforce is that profiles are for real people only. Pages are for businesses. It's that simple. You register an account for yourself and you use this account to create a page for your dealership.
There are those who have registered their account as their dealership. These accounts will eventually be deleted and banned. It can happen in days or it could take months, but eventually someone will report these accounts and have them banned.
The other thought that crosses many minds is the idea of creating a business "version" of yourself and a personal "version". Facebook does not allow this either. If caught, both could be lost.
Friends, Fans, and Logistics
A blog post is not enough space to discuss the strategies behind building fans, finding friends, and the logistics involved with putting together a strong fan page. These advanced topics are best discussed one on one (feel free to contact me with questions) or in a classroom setting (such as at the Automotive Marketing Boot Camp described below).
Rather than discuss these mundane topics, let's go straight into the important aspects...
Strategies on What to Post and How to Engage
The personal nature of Facebook is both a liability and a strength for Facebook as a marketing tool. Spam is not tolerated and will result in a loss of fans. If your goal is to flood your page with inventory and specials, you won't be very successful.
Your goal should be to promote the quality of your dealership and highlight news, events, and most importantly PEOPLE. If people want to see your inventory, they know exactly where to find it. When they go to your Facebook page, they want to see humans engaging with other humans. They want to know that you are communicating with your fans, that you are posting interesting information regarding your dealership and community, and that you are offering things that are related to the humanity of your dealership.
In other words, they want to see engagement.
For some people, that makes total sense. For others, it's often difficult to get them to understand the dynamic that happens on Facebook. The best advice that anyone can get is to learn by experience. Look at what other Facebook fan pages are posting. Check out car dealers, local businesses, large corporations, publications -- those who have successful fan pages are engaging their fans.
You can and should do the same. Luckily, engagement is easier to see in practice and understand through application than most would know. There are thousands of ways to engage with your fans. Find whatever fits best with your personality and the personality of your dealership in real life.
If you are known for funny, offbeat commercials, stick with that concept. Post these videos, images, and quirky posts on your page regularly. If you're an upscale dealership and want a more corporate engagement, there's nothing wrong with that either. Just try to not let your page get too dry or your fans won't be impressed.
Reply to those who comment, like, or dislike what you post. Remember, engagement requires more than one person.
Upcoming events, industry or OEM news, local area news -- it's all fair game and can help you participate with sincerity.
Facebook is More than Just Your Page
The biggest mistake any business can make is focusing strictly on their own fan page. Remember, chances are strong that many of the people buying a car from you today are active users on Facebook. Don't miss the opportunity to let them do the marketing for you. How?
It's called pride. When people buy a car, they are usually proud of their purchase and want their friends and family to know about it.
When your sales team delivers a vehicle, they should (almost) always ask if their customer is on Facebook. Have a camera ready and ask, "If you'd like we can let your friends see your new car. I can take your picture if you want to post it to your wall!"
Guess what. Most won't, That's okay. Some will.
The goal is to get Sally to post a picture of herself smiling ear to ear standing next to her new Altima Coupe (hopefully with your sign int he background if you can easily arrange it) with the message, "I just bought this at [dealership name]. How do I look?"
When the conversation centers around Sally, when the focus is on her and her new Altima, your dealership is getting free advertising. Most dealers have heard of "word of mouth" marketing. Everyone has heard this statistic or that one about how reputations are made or broken based upon experiences and conversations.
Facebook is the new "word of mouth" that very few dealers are taking advantage of, sadly.
So Many Other Strategies
Again, this post is not the venue for the amount of data that needs to be discussed regarding Facebook. We still need to discuss getting fans, setting up a proper page, engaging with customers, advertising directly, and a slew of other strategies. The best time and place will be the day prior to NADA 2010 in Orlando during the Automotive Marketing Boot Camp
being held by me, Paul Rushing, and Brian Pasch.
For now, you can continue to the next part of this series, Car Dealer Social Media Strategies