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If you only read one social media article this year… let it be a strategic wellspring

At present, it’s fairly safe to say that almost everyone is at least aware of social media.  Hopefully, most dealerships are aware of why it’s important to have a strong presence on the internet, no matter which platform you use:

 The Pew Research Center itself has revealed the startling statistics of every age group as they flock to the internet instead of the traditional methods of television, newspaper and radio for information.

Today, with the rise of inbound marketing, dealerships have a choice – “Budget vs. Brains,” as HubSpot calls it.  The genre of social media is almost defined by Facebook and Twitter, with over 750 million users between them – and they’re both free to use.  That’s not to say that these are the only platforms to be used; according to the Top 50 Brands in Social Media, what matters most is knowing how to best use the platform you choose.

As previously mentioned, Facebook is well-known as the “biggest kid on the block” when it comes to social networking platforms, but what isn’t yet common knowledge is that Facebook has cleverly evolved into more than static pictures and status updates.  It’s now one of the most powerful inbound marketing tools, and if used correctly, it can literally expand your brand presence as a secondary website.  In fact, many of the most expert marketers argue that a social media presence can, and in some cases should, come before a brand’s own website.  Why?  Because your customer base is now more likely to seek out information about your brand on Facebook, as they won’t have to leave the platform to find what they want.  With Facebook now equipped to provide you with calls to action, strong geo-targeting and exclusive deals for your customers, mobile marketing and even a paid-search platform that’s showing a higher ROI and lower cost than Google’s AdWords, it’s time to call your Strategic Account Manager and start using brains instead of budget:

  • One Minneapolis photographer touts his success, now as one of the busiest photographers in the Twin Cities:
    • “With Google AdWords, it could cost about $8 per click to be listed on the top of the page… But with Facebook, I can limit my ads exclusively to customers I want to target for about 70 to 90 cents per click.”

With Google AdWords, your competition can click on your ads, driving up your cost without delivering results.  With Facebook Ads campaigns, you can target not only your geographic area, but more importantly the demographics and lifestyles of your prospective customers more specifically than ever before.  If you’re not ready to start a paid campaign, there’s more opportunity than ever in the basics:

  • Your profile picture (aka “avatar”) is actually 534x374 pixels of valuable real estate; don’t just tell them who you are, include why they should be following you
  • The photostrip at the top of your page is the perfect place to promote your most important products or marketing messages, as those thumbnail images are actually miniature landing pages that are SEO-optimizable with calls to action!
  • Every status update is a chance to engage your audience; adhere to the 80/20 rule!
    • Overall, your Facebook page should be treated as a social gathering; if you walk in the room and speak of nothing but sales (“conversional” messages), you’ll soon find yourself alone.  Statistically speaking, you can post twice as many “conversional” messages and get only ½ the number of conversions than if you posted half as many updates that were mostly conversational.  Aim for at least 80% of your posts to be conversation, not sales pitches or product information.
    • Every piece of research at present shows that women not only spend more time online, they’re making over 53% of automotive and electronic purchases; be sure your messages are engaging, not alienating, half of your target market:
      • Women are busier than ever, between career and family responsibilities – grab their attention with tips on saving time and money, and they’re more likely to view your product as a solution, not a sale
      • Get personal, tell a story, comment on or link to local newsworthy stories… again, approaching your Facebook page as a social gathering captures everyone’s attention – and keeps it.

Is it paying off?  Social media metrics were once a mystery; after evolving into a rough science, Facebook itself is offering a simple, direct method for “insights” – Facebook’s moniker for “metrics.”  See who’s following you and how they’re interacting with you – right down to their demographics and greatest points of interest.  This is sometimes referred to as “social sigma marketing;” if you’re not using the feedback to better your own interactions, you’re wasting a golden opportunity.  The beauty of it all?  Unless you opt for a well-targeted paid campaign, all of this prospective benefit won’t take a cent from your marketing budget… just some well-though action and a more strategic use of the time you’re already spending.

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Tags: Facebook, inbound, marketing, media, social, strategy

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