Professional Community for Car Dealers, Marketing, Advertising and Sales Leaders
I’ve found teaching dealerships on how to properly use social is like trying to steer a massively large ship against a swiftly moving current. Fighting decades of secrecy and the push push push advertising mindset to bring dealerships into the more transparent and community building world of social media can sometimes be a very frustrating task for both teacher and student.
Back in late 2009 when I started working at one of the largest automotive dealership groups in the northeast, I was shocked that not one of the 50 dealerships even had a Facebook page, let alone any type of a social strategy. Fast forward a couple of months and I created one Facebook page for the single dealership I was working at and was immediately told to stop what I was doing until a company wide “Social Media Guide” could be created so all dealerships could be on the same page. That made sense.
To make a long story short, over the next four and a half years I was mainly told to simply use the new Facebook and Twitter accounts like they were newspaper advertising sections and, at all costs, get as many Likes as possible. That’s just not how social media works.
If a dealership group this large was having this much difficulty understanding how to properly use this massive paradigm shift in customer engagement called social media, I knew there must be hundreds or even thousands of others with the same problem. That’s when I struck out on my own.
Since the invention of the telephone, nothing has changed the way we engage with customers like social media has. Now the amount of power customers have to communicate with dealerships, other customers and to voice their opinions (good or bad) is at an all time high. For far too many decades, the car buying experience has been clouded in secrecy, manipulation and outright lies. No longer can that be the case if you want your dealership to succeed.
To properly get the most out of social media means changing your mindset on how marketing now works going forward. You absolutely have to bring value with every piece of content you post. That value could be in the form of information, entertainment, awareness and, every now and then, an advertisement (one that actually brings real value and savings, not some manipulative lease deal just to get a customer in the door). It’s now all about give, give, give, give and then, take.
It’s also very important to really know who your target customer is and create and share content that would appeal to that demographic. Whether it’s car related or not.
Are you a Chevrolet dealership located around an area with a weekly cruise night? Send someone out for an hour to take some pictures of older Corvette’s or Camaro’s and post them on your Facebook and Instagram feeds. Did a local sports team win a championship? Post about that on Twitter. Shoot a quick video of how to setup and use the infotainment system in one of your new models and post it to YouTube and FaceBook.
Want to sneak an ad into content that also brings value? How about shooting a quick video on how to install an accessory, like say, a front lip spoiler. Post the video to YouTube, then share the video on Facebook and add a limited time coupon for that lip spoiler from your parts department.
There are unlimited ways you can get creative with your content and bring value to your customers. Twitter specifically is also a great area to listen to your customers and join conversations already happening with your brand(s). Twitter search is a massively powerful tool that should be used daily to increase conversation and awareness.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat (yes, Snapchat! Get on it!) or whatever new is on the horizon, learning and embracing the fundamentals of this new social media landscape of transparency, community and value will set you and your dealership up for success in the decades to come.