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I have seen automotive digital marketing emerge from being a curiosity in the minds of most car dealers, and become the generally accepted "Smart Money" portion of a dealership's marketing communications budget...
Along the way, the "Content Marketing" category within automotive digital marketing has been transformed by a few savvy car peeps into being referred to as "Influencer Marketing". The term has a natural positive vibe within the auto industry, which has always been chock full of car buyer influencers (Third basemen) for over a hundred years... So, it is easy to understand why Influencer Marketing is one of those buzz word combos that you come across every once in awhile, especially when a solution provider is trying to sell you something. However, very few car dealers and automotive marketers understand how to use this form of marketing effectively, with a tactical implementation designed to get the best results for a dealership within the scope of their overall digital marketing strategy.
What is Influencer Marketing?
In offline context, children, family, friends and colleagues - all are big influencers in the consumers' decision to buy cars, get vehicles serviced or just about anything else. In online context, influencers are individuals who have a persuasive voice, authenticity and an audience on the web. Car Dealers can leverage these social influencers to gain voice in user content and feedback surrounding their products and services. This is what influencer marketing is all about... Extending your dealership's brand and messages through cultivated advocates.
In other words, one can define influencer marketing as a subset of automotive digital marketing, where a car company/dealership focuses on recruiting and enrolling people who have an established credibility and audience on various social media platforms to spread the good word about its brand, people and offerings.
Why Influencer Marketing Makes Sense for Car Dealers
Influencer marketing is a powerful and significant tool which should play an important role in a dealership's social media strategy. What makes this tool so important? Because automotive consumers are listening to people online before, while and after making their vehicle purchase decision... While at the same time traditional ads are becoming less important and less credible to these very same automotive consumers.
A Nielsen study suggests that influencers on social media help grab those audiences who have begun tuning out of traditional ads, banners etc, and have become more active on social media.
74% of automotive consumers make their purchasing decisions on the basis of what is said on social media, reports a study conducted by digital marketing agency ODM Group. 78% respondents of this study said that the companies' posts on social media impact their purchases, while 90% of them trust peer recommendations, and ads are trusted only by 33%. As per the data shared by Mindshift Interactive, information by brand advocates is 70% more likelier to be seen as good and credible, and social media referrals are 71% more likelier to result in a purchase decision.
Highly Influential Content on Social Media?
Influencers on Facebook and Twitter seem to have a say on the digital medium. 92% of the social media influencers have an account on Facebook, and 83% of them post more than once per week. About 88% of these influencers have a twitter account, and 71% of them tweet at least once a week.
According to a research by SproutSocial, out of the 53% people who use Twitter to recommend any company, service or product, 48% purchase that product or service. Twitter is said to be the number one platform for influencing high dollar MSRP related purchase decisions, says research by Mashable.
Zafar Rais, CEO of MindShift Interactive says:
"Influencer Marketing is crucial in today's times towards building evangelism & adoption. As social media climbs the communication ladder with speed, businesses must further understand & embrace the value of influencers. Many popular brands in the region are approaching the 'Twitterati' as they play an important role in creating awareness, promoting products and in encouraging online communities to try new things. These influencers are passionate and when they are made to understand a brand appropriately & be part of it as ambassadors, they can be of great advantage towards helping your brand gain momentum and sustain it, which should be the ideal strategy."
Tips for Influence Marketing Success
When creating marketing campaigns and initiatives whose purpose is to influence your targeted audience's influencers using social media, automotive marketers should carefully consider the following factors and recommendations: