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How Car Dealers Can Get The Facebook Fans That Matter

How Many Fans Does Your Dealership Facebook Page Have?

The number of Facebook fans your dealership can claim is an important number... Right? The customer behind each "Like" your dealership Facebook Page gets is more valuable than your typical customer, generating more than average gross profits and making a positive impact on your dealership's financial statement... Right?

Hopefully, you haven't drank the Kool-Aid being served by some social media pundits who like to hang their hat on getting more Fans for a dealer's Facebook Page without qualification of who those Fans are... Let's rethink the whole Facebook Value Proposition for car dealers.

The basic concept that all Facebook fans are of equal value, or that simply more is better, is a myth.. Fan count envy is perpetuated by many social media service providers selling their wares to car dealers.  The confusion that some dealers and General Managers have experienced as a result of this misleading hype is one of the reasons why social media channels (Facebook, YouTube) have yet to achieve the same levels of success as their mobile marketing and search engine counterparts.

Far too many social media marketing service providers to car dealers are confusing correlation with causality. They believe enticing a customer to become a dealership Facebook fan will somehow make that customer more likely to spend more money at the dealership buying cars and getting them serviced there. What comes next is a gimmick driven, cash or gift giveaway, sweepstakes or advertising campaign designed solely to pull in new Facebook Page fans for that dealership from wherever they can find them... Outside the dealer's market area, maybe even in other states, foreign countries, employees of the service provider, other dealership employees, you name it, if they can get a "Like" it is considered a "Win"... This is not only a mistake, it can actually diminish or destroy most of the value a dealership can get from a strong Fan base attached to their Facebook Page.

Think of it this way. think back to the days of dealers spending a good portion of their advertising budgets on Direct Mail Campaigns... How important is the quality of your dealership's customer data base? How expensive would it be to send 20,000 direct mail pieces out to a customer list where 19,900 of those addresses were more than 500 miles away from your dealership?


If you had the opportunity to run Cable TV commercials on a station serving a market area on the other side of the country... For a 90% discount on the media buys, would it be a great deal? Not for YOUR dealership! 


Make no mistake, your dealership's Facebook Page Fan list is a marketing database... The quality of which is determined by the likelihood of those Fans doing business with your dealership.


Which brings me to my next recommendation for changing the way we look at each dealership's Facebook Fan base... It's sort of the old question about the chicken or the egg, which comes first?  


Here is the point I would like to make: On a hot summer day in Arizona, my neighbors flock to the multiple Coldstone Creamery Ice Cream shops around where I live in Gilbert... Especially my many Mormon friends, they love to eat ice cream.  It is clear to see that there is a direct correlation between the outside temperature and the sale of ice cream. When I visit a Coldstone Creamery any time between May and September, I always see a line of customers waiting to be served.  


However, none of us (above the age of 12) are foolish enough to believe that the more people who go to a Coldstone Creamery, the hotter the weather will get. That would be as foolish as believing that becoming a dealership's Facebook fan will cause that person to buy more cars, parts, accessories or even get their vehicles serviced at your dealership. Do you believe that compelling somebody to become a Fan of your dealership's Facebook Page will stimulate that person to buy your products, services and become a passionate brand advocate?

Now, let me be as clear as possible in stating that I am NOT suggesting that car dealers shouldn't strive to build their Facebook fan base.  What I am suggesting is that "How" you build your Facebook Page Fan base is as important, or even more important than the number of Fans you have amassed 


There are many ways to grow a dealership's Facebook Fan base, some are more productive in driving the count, but less than effective at getting the right people. Then there is always the cost and time factors to consider. Having done this longer and for more dealers than most people in the car business, I can attest that there are many short cuts that will adversely impact the quality of your Fan base. The problem with those approaches is that once your dealership's fan base is polluted with irrelevant people who will never spend money at your dealership, it is VERY difficult to get rid of them.  Hazardous waste removal is a lot more expensive than not polluting in the first place... So, don't fall victim to the temptation to pollute your Facebook Fan base in the quest for bigger numbers. It is not worth it and destroys the value your Facebook Fan base can provide by targeting the friends of each fan with offers and advertising.


Like others have written about on ADM, I agree and we all should know by now that driving customer loyalty begins with matching customers with the right vehicles or services, along with a flawless and repeatable customer experience, is what works the best.  So, let's apply that thinking to your marketing tactics... Why wouldn't we portray how we operate our dealership by marketing in a similar manner?  


Prospective and existing dealership customers should experience certain things in your marketing activities. For example, we may want to consider the following recommendations made by Yuchun Lee in his article at Advertising Age:

"Personalization. Customers are no longer receptive to the spray-and-pray marketing tactics of old. With that in mind, are you using the information your customers give you to get to know them as individuals? What devices do they shop through, what deals are they most interested in, and when they don't complete a purchase, do you know why, so you can fix it the next time? As a marketer, I know that forming a personalized snapshot of each customer is not as easy as creating a Facebook fan campaign. But as a consumer, I know that I am far less likely to buy from a business that doesn't know me as a person."

"Devices. Shopping is no longer just an in-store or PC-centric experience. We witnessed this during last year's holiday season, when a record number of customers shopped through mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Customers demand a mobile experience that isn't just compelling but consistent across all devices."

Whenever your dealership in any way meets a customer's needs, you have put that customer in a position to become a Facebook fan, if they aren't already. And THAT is the moment when you should ask, or make it easy for the customer to become your Facebook Fan. This leads to the growth and development of a Facebook Fan base that is far more valuable than a Fan base of people who either don't live close to your dealership or don't have any type of interest in the brand of vehicles you sell and service.


What about Facebook users who are prospective dealership customers, but have never done business with us?  If you want to drive PROSPECTIVE customers to your Facebook Page and have them become Fans, then you must construct and launch the right Facebook PAID ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.  

What? You did not know why Facebook gives away free Fan Pages to car dealers and other businesses? That's right, the ONLY way you will have any degree of cost effectiveness in acquiring Facebook Fans from among Facebook users that live near your dealership and own or may consider the brands of vehicles you sell and service is to construct Facebook Advertising campaigns.  This is not a mistake, it is exactly the way Facebook has been designed and why the company makes money.


Facebook Advertising allows car dealers to target the exact people that are most likely to do business with their dealerships.  Dealers do not pay to show ads to people outside the area, are too young or too old, or are not educated and employed, or do not work in the right professions that match up with your dealership's targeted customer demographics and geography.


Fortunately for Ford Motor Company, General Motors has proven itself incapable of understanding how to use Facebook advertising effectively... GM claims it is a waste of money, and Ford is scooping up the Facebook ad inventory.


The reality of how effective Facebook advertising can be is quite the opposite of GM's ill-advised conclusions: done correctly, combining Facebook advertising campaigns with your dealership's Facebook Page provides you with a customer-engagement channel populated with people who you can entice on a daily basis with deals and personalized information... At the lowest cost and greatest communication efficiency ever offered to automotive retailers.

Perhaps more importantly, dealership Facebook fans can be developed into the ultimate marketing prize -- dealership advocates who are willing to put their reputation on the line.  Dealers who are willing to commit resources can build an entourage of fans that not only proactively recommend your products and services, but also your dealership's overall value beyond discounted pricing. Think about this opportunity in the context of recent research by the Nielson organization showing that 90 percent of automotive consumers trust peer recommendations more than dealership and car company advertising.

Now... THAT person who is a potential dealership advocate is exactly the type of Facebook fan all car dealers and management teams should be targeting. 


EDITOR's NOTE: This blog post was inspired by and cites Yuchun Lee and the following source:

Views: 1964

Tags: Advertising, Car Dealers, Facebook, Facebook Fans, How To, Marketing, Social Media, That Matter


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Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 9, 2012 at 11:45am

Another article on ADM relevant to the topic of Facebook Marketing:

Automotive News Interviews Richard Bustillo: "Dealers Get In Your F...

Automotive Dealers Get in your Facebook

Stores post ads directly on site's news feeds

Richard Bustillo of Rick Case Honda says Facebook is taking advantage of new opportunities to reach customers by putting ads directly in news feeds.…
Continue  Added by Ralph Paglia on November 6, 2012 at 10:00am — 8 Comments
Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 9, 2012 at 11:44am

Relevant new article on Facebook Marketing:

Facebook and Twitter Offer Dealers New Ad Targeting Capabilities

In Pursuit of Revenue, Social Networks Ramp Up Ad Targeting

Facebook Goes the Route of Direct Marketing, While Twitter Plays It Safe With Focus on User Interests

Comment by Todd Vowell on October 22, 2012 at 9:31am

Hey Tom, thanks again. I have been bruised a few times on ADM and I just keep on truckin. I try to exercise time management wisely so I really focus on what dealerships have to say. That is what matters most (my opinion).  Listening to people blog about Facebook and other Social Media that also sell it, is like asking Barry Obama who the best candidate for President is...

SO I truly value your take Tom and I appreciate you taking the time to lay it all out like you did. You make some great points and you and I are concerned about some of the same issues. Have a terrific day!

Comment by Tom Gorham on October 20, 2012 at 5:53pm

BTW Todd, a little anecdote to lighten your spirits.  Early on, I was once given a "bandaid" by Grant Cardone here on ADM after being bruised and battered by some of his followers for disagreeing with him about the balance between work and home life. I think I said something rude and disgusting like, "Get a life".  Ooops!  I sometimes go back through my history here to admire that bandaid as a trophy.  We're all entitled to our own opinions.

Comment by Tom Gorham on October 20, 2012 at 5:46pm

Todd,  we have talked before and I enjoyed our conversation.  First I want to comment on what Ralph said and confirm his conviction that your comments are valuable to the ADM community.  I have been on ADM for years now and never felt I couldn't express my ideas and opinions, even when they are contrary to others, including Ralph.  Passion is sometimes mistaken for pompous or condescending.  And many of us here on ADM are very passionate about what we believe.

But I also want to address your concerns about privacy and Facebook because they are very realistic and relevant.  I also agree with many of them.  I take my privacy very seriously.  But a Facebook member who shares their total information with anybody is making their information "PUBLIC".  Public information is just that.  Marketers have a right to utilize public information howerver they desire to target their audience.

My concern would be that Facebook utilizes "private" information to share with marketers to target you.  I believe this is happening and have real concerns about it in terms of ethics.  This is coming to a head in Congress and will eventually be dictated by the government.

But I have to say that it is not just Facebook.  Even direct mail marketers are using technology to target customers in ways never imagined 10 years ago.

Finally, I want to addres what struck me most about Ralph's article... "the Kool-Aid being served by some social media pundits who like to hang their hat on getting more Fans for a dealer's Facebook Page without qualification of who those Fans are".  I've been approached by so many people wanting to sell me on the idea that this game or this sweepstakes will get me more fans.  I've seen dealers with 100,000 fans who don't give a sh#$ about the dealer but love what game is playing that I can't count them.  The spiel is always the same and usually includes "but you can market to all these people".

The question is, "Do I want to market to THESE people?"  I hope I don't lose my way on this and forget that we're talking about "conquest and retention".

Anyway, keep on reading and keep on commenting.  I will look for them.


Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 20, 2012 at 12:54pm

Todd - I just wanted to say thank you for posting your counter-points and concerns, but most of all, do not ever stop expressing your opinions on ADM! I know that sometimes the "Written words" as you described can go beyond having no emotion and sound like i am being combative or belittling your concerns, and that is NOT the intent! I am sure that there are many people with the same concerns as you that are not willing to post them, possibly because of my retorts, and I hope you never feel that way.  Please continue to be that voice for those that may disagree with something that I, or anyone else posts... Your opinions are valued and appreciated.

Comment by Todd Vowell on October 20, 2012 at 12:03pm

Tom thanks very much and I am getting it.  Written words have no emotion so it is misunderstood a lot. This was never about being friends but I am friends with my local dealership because I buy from dealers that buy from me. Its not about me either, and that is why I apologized earlier.

When “ADM leadership” turns pompous and condescending, that’s what I don’t get, but I’m a big boy.  I will take that over the “bum-kissers” any day. The phrase “spot on” should be outlawed…LOL!

But Tom, this is about Facebook and how does anyone identify info reserved for “all to see” and “just friends” when the privacy issues at Facebook are ever-changing and confusing? I am intrigued by Facebook. What role do they (will they) play in BtoC?  Facebook has been, and continues to be a hot spot for serious privacy issues. I don’t think people realize how much FB knows about their members!

Information is also mined by employers, IRS, divorce attorneys, insurers, and identity thieves to name a few.

Million of people openly discuss health conditions, treatments, booze consumption, recreational drug consumption, and so on. 

Also, no one wants to talk about “ineffective” or “Click Fraud” with Facebook.  We all know about GM but what about other companies like Limited Run who allege 80% of its Facebook Ad Clicks were fraudulent, came from Bots. We need to talk about the pros and cons, don't we?

The best part is different generations feel different about Facebook and privacy.  It’s a healthy debate.  Kids raised on computers (Millennials)  are not as concerned about privacy as my generation (the tail end of baby boomers).  Yet we all play in the same pond!  

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 19, 2012 at 5:05pm

This is for Albert Carrasco:

Five Ways to Improve Facebook EdgeRank

written by Brian Carter - Source:
Brian Carter is a brand advocate for PageLever, the leading Facebook analytics tool. He is also the author of The Like Economy, and has been cited as an expert in facebook marketing by ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Read more at his blog:

Brands have learned that success with a Facebook page isn’t just about fan numbers, but also about how many fans see their posts. Facebook’s news feed algorithm — called EdgeRank — controls that visibility.

Of course, optimizing a news feed so that it bumps up your EdgeRank is a complicated recipe that varies with each brand, the kind of content it posts, and its fans. There have been hundreds of blog posts written about this subject, but here are five completely new ways to get better results.

1. Post Photos

The Facebook news feed algorithm appears to be calculated both per fan and per type of post. That means a person might see Coca-Cola’s photo posts, but not the company’s link posts. There are six post types: a text-only status update, a photo, a link, a video, a platform post, and a question. The first four are the most commonly used.

After some research, its clear that a Facebook page gets more fan engagement from photos than links, statuses, or videos. In fact, photos get as much as twenty times more engagement.

So, even when you need to post a link to your website, you should post a photo with that link. You might also consider posting a thumbnail of your video and a link to the video, rather than featuring the video itself. To do that, enter the status update and link first, then hit the x to cancel the video preview, then click on “photo/video” and choose the image file you want to attach.

Posting everything with an image will increase the percent of fans you reach. In all these cases, your status and link will show up above the image. My experiments show that you can get a good amount of clicks on links above photos. For example, one post (also amplified by sponsored story ads) reached 114, 434 people and engaged 619 people (0.5% of reach), while the link received 311 clicks (0.27% of reach and half the engaged users).

You can get creative with your message by taking things that might have started as status updates, and adding the same message into an image. Someecards is a popular and funny e-card website, and it allows you to create your own. Just choose a background color and one of their line drawings, then add your text. You can save the image and post it on your Facebook page. Do this manually to make sure it’s a photo post-type. A great example of this comes from The American Heart Association. They used a card to humorously promote children eating vegetables.

It’s not the funniest image you’ve ever seen, but many big organizations can’t be as edgy as others. It’s better than no humor at all. As you can see, it got a good amount of shares.

You can also use to glom onto some of the latest and more edgy memes, or even use Photoshop to make it yourself.

2. Create Photo Albums

The World Health Organization’s Women Create Life program aims to improve women’s rights internationally. One way they do this is by creating great photo posts or great photo albums like the one below.

In the last month, out of 11 posts the organization created, three of the top four most-viewed posts were photo albums. Photo albums show one big photo and several smaller ones. They look different from other posts in people’s news feeds, so they get attention. People click in to see all the photos. This gives you an advantage over all the other people and pages you’re competing with for your fans’ attention. Also, although Facebook hasn’t confirmed this, clicks on links or into photo albums probably impact EdgeRank to some degree.

3. Write More Text

Women Create Life takes a magazine approach to its posts. The organization doesn’t use a separate website. Instead, they put all their text into the posts. Sometimes that’s as much as 800 words (the current limit is 5,000 characters).

As a result, there is always a “see more” link to click to read the rest of the text. Women Create Life also added a Spanish translation at the end of each post. According to Facebook, clicks on “see more” are counted as a consumption under the “other consumptions” category.

Again, this may feed into EdgeRank, although Facebook has not confirmed it. Either way, this approach also helps followers to see you’ve put significant time into your posts, which can lead to more shares.

4. Push Your Network to New Posts

Can you front-load engagement to convince the news feed algorithm to show the post to a larger audience? It’s hard to say how much impact doing this would have, but here’s how you do it:

  • 1. Go to the photos section of your Facebook page and upload an image.
  • 2. There is a “post” button at the bottom, but you can change the album name and just exit the tab once it has uploaded the image.
  • 3. Go back to photos, you’ll see the image there.
  • 4. Copy the photo URL, or look for the URL they give you on the album page.
  • 5. Promote the album and/or photo via Twitter, email, LinkedIn, and any other distribution networks you have in place.
  • 6. Take this even further by spending some money on the post. Either promote the post directly, or create a sponsored story in your Facebook ads to increase visibility and likes early on. After you have some likes and comments, post it out to your news feed, too. To do that just go to the album and upload a new image, and it will prompt you to post out.

    If you keep adding a new image, it lets you publish each time. So seed the album with two photos, promote, then add more, then publish. Because you start off with extra engagement, it spikes the post. If you leverage your entire distribution network, this may increase your reach. The more people interact with a post, the more of your fans Facebook shows it to. Every post has a lifespan, and you have more posts you want to get out, so getting more engagement early is key.

    5. Use Post Targeting

    The new post-targeting feature, still being rolled out to all Facebook pages, allows you to segment your fans by criteria previously only available to advertisers. This includes age, gender, interested in (likes), relationship status, all education information, workplace, plus the old options like language, country, state, and city.

    You can use post-targeting to your advantage in a couple of ways. First, you can target a post to the segments of your fans most likely to interact with it. The more tarted you get, the fewer people you’ll reach, but a higher percentage of the people you do reach will engage. If there’s someone who wasn’t that into your page, but really likes the topic you posted on, and ten of their friends comment on a particular post that hits that interest or demographic, then EdgeRank shows your page to that person. It’s like a snowball that picks up momentum and just keeps rolling because it’s so concentrated.

    Second, you can divide your audience up and release multiple posts at one time. This content customization increases your chance of getting more people in each fan subgroup to see and engage with your posts.

Comment by Albert Carrasco on October 19, 2012 at 2:37pm

Great article but I didn't see any discussion on EdgeRank. Thanks.

Comment by Tom Gorham on October 19, 2012 at 1:20pm

Todd,  I feel this is a misunderstanding.  What people put out there to their friends privately should never be the basis for marketing unless it was put out there for all to see.  That said, I'm a big believer in relationship marketing.  We have so many customers who consider themselve "regulars" and expect to be treated as such.  We truly appreciate such customers... they are VIPs.  We know what they like... we cater to what they like.  They are truly friends.

At the same time, we get new customers that we want to build relationships with.  You don't want to be friends with your dealership... OK. There are others like you.  But by respecting that, we become your friend.  Get it?

That IS a relationship.

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