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The article shown further down was originally published by Fast Company and has been getting a lot of attention from a wide audience, including many business executives and leaders outside of social media marketing circles. The author touches on the subject of chasing "Fan Count" more than measuring "engagement". However, I believe that the issues around the need for improving rates of customer engagement within a car dealer's social media marketing strategy are more directly addressed by understanding the data shown in the chart on the left... The disparity between what marketing professionals THINK that customers want and what the customers actually say they want is illustrated by the varying red and black bar graph data points.
It is no surprise to anyone who has been a member of the ADM Professional Community that an author would be calling for "maximizing fan engagement", in my opinion we have thrown the word "engagement" around like chips at a Las Vegas Poker Room, what we need to better understand is what the drivers behind increased consumer engagement really are, and which ones are relevant to car dealers.
It is also no surprise that your dealership's most loyal customers will "Like" your Facebook Page out of sheer loyalty... But beyond that core group of your most loyal customers, who are certainly VERY important and your Facebook posts should address their needs, what will everyone else respond to?
For example, when asked, most automotive consumers expect some fairly simple and predictable things from being a Fan (Like) a car dealer's Facebook Page:
Now, I am the first person to suggest that dealers communicate a lot more than promotional offers, discounts and service coupons, but I will also suggest that we do not ignore what the marketing research indicates over and over again... Provide value to your dealership's Facebook Fans in the form of money saving discounts, offers and promotions.
I have re-posted the Fast Company article below for your review and consideration:
There are four types of negative feedback on Facebook ranging from undesirable, to worst for a marketer, starting with:
Negative feedback means your content isn’t aligned with your fan base. That doesn’t always mean your content is bad--sometimes you are delivering great content to the wrong audience. Or sometimes you are simply posting too frequently and overwhelming the users.
The importance of this metric seems to be dangerously underestimated by marketers.
I was curious how frequently fans take any of the above actions, so I asked the team at PageLever if they could share some benchmarks. PageLever is a Facebook analytics tool that provides much deeper insights than Facebook’s native Insights. They currently measure more than 1 billion Facebook fans across thousands of fan pages; so I consider their benchmarks to be pretty accurate. (Disclosure: Intel is a customer)
What they found was rather interesting: 98% of post views generate no negative feedback. But the other 2% of the time a fan responds with some form of negative feedback:
For far too long marketers focused on maximizing fan count instead of maximizing fan engagement, and now we’re paying the price. This has nothing to do with Facebook’s algorithms and has everything to do with content marketers put in front of their fans...in many cases content our fans don’t want to see.
What can marketers do to ensure that fans engage with them instead of hiding their content?
Your fans will remain loyal as long as the content remains relevant and expectations for frequency are met.
1) Focus your fan acquisition efforts on quality fans rather than quantity fans.
Identify your ideal fans-–those are the folks who will truly engage with you because they love your product and your brand. Accept that a portion of your existing fans may no longer be interested in what you have to say, and don’t get frustrated if your unsubscribe rates are temporarily higher than this average of 2%. It may just mean that you need a different set of fans, not a new content strategy.
2) Stay on-topic with your content.
Even the most loyal fan will leave after reading 10 off-topic posts in a row. Be humble enough to admit you don’t always know what your fans want to read--so ask what they want to see.
Whether you run a poll or simply pose a question, it’s worth doing this at least once a quarter. Once you receive the feedback ensure you act on it, and adjust your content strategy according to those findings.
In addition, track your metrics very closely to see which posts not only are getting the most engagement, but the most organic virality. Those are the topics that resonate.
3) Match your fans’ expectations for posting frequency.
How to time your Facebook posts to reach the most fans is a perennially popular topic, but just like an email list, it’s easy to wear out your fans, even with good content. My recommendation is post once a day. If you have an event that offers a lot of good information, go for several times a day for several days of the event, but not more than that.
4) Tweak your copy so it’s recognizably your brand voice.
Sometimes the problem isn’t that the content is off-topic, but that it’s off-voice. Your brand has a unique voice which your fans know and appreciate, so make sure your posts are phrased in a way your customers expect. And don’t forget that you are human, so write like a human, not like a PR professional.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try new content, new format, and new approaches. You might be surprised what types of posts your fans might react to in the most positive way. The key with experimentation is not just trying new things, but measuring the results and adjusting in real time.
--Ekaterina Walter is Intel's social media strategist. Follow her @Ekaterina.
[Image: Flickr user Staci Myers]