Marketers need to go where their customers are. This has been a fact in business since merchants traveled to sell their wares in the forums of Ancient Rome. The modern-day forum (or town square) is social media. People gather on sites like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok to share information and search for products and services to solve their problems.
Social media adoption in the United States is staggering. On the high end, 84% of Americans ages 18-29 use social media. On the low end, 45% of Americans older than 65 use social media — nearly half. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. Not only is social media popular, it is also a part of daily life. Nearly 70% of Facebook users check their profiles daily, and many people check these sites multiple times throughout the day.
It’s time to participate in the modern forum. Use this guide to develop a social media strategy for your car dealership to grow your engagement levels and drive leads to your website and showrooms.
Why Dealerships Should Invest in Social Media
Social media is an important hub for dealerships to connect with customers and start their customer journey. Too often, companies think the customer journey is like Dorothy following the Yellow Brick Road — they treat it like a straight line where customers keep moving forward until they reach the Emerald City (your showroom). The reality is that the customer journey is like a metal ball in a pinball machine. The customer bounces around to different channels until they reach their destination.
Social media creates a space for your customers to engage with your brand as they connect with your dealership on other channels. A buyer might click on one of your pay-per-click ads and bounce from your website, only to re-engage through a social media post. Social channels are key in keeping your brand top-of-mind and reminding people why your company deserves your business.
Plus, you need to invest in social media because your competitors already are. You risk falling behind while competing dealerships grow on these channels.
1. Choose the Right Platforms
The primary social media channels used in the United States are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. There are dozens more where you can post, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit. However, you might not need a presence on all of these channels — especially if you have a limited budget.
Review your target demographics and go where your customers are. A brand like Trolli (which sells gummy worms) could benefit from creating TikTok content for kids but doesn’t need a LinkedIn page to connect with working professionals. The same can be said for your car dealership.
Unlike pay-per-click (PPC) and display advertising channels, you can’t control who you share your social media posts with; however, you can control which audiences are likelier to see them. For example, the average Instagram users fall into the 18-24 age range, and the average LinkedIn users are primarily between the ages of 30-39.
Make sure you are actually reaching relevant audiences in the channels you choose. Also, find platforms that are friendly to your content goals. If you have a large video marketing budget, you can spread that content across a variety of sites like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok — which are all video-dominate.
2. Set Clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are metrics that reflect how well your campaigns are doing. These are measurable indicators that can highlight the growth of your campaigns over time. KPIs look different with every channel. You might look at rankings for search engine marketing (SEM) but impressions for discovery advertising.
Here are a few valuable KPIs for your social media campaigns:
- Impressions: how many people see your content?
- Engagement Rate: out of the total number of impressions, what percentage of viewers like, comment, or click on your content?
- Growth Rate: how many new people like your page or subscribe to your content monthly?
- Views: how many people watch your video content?
- Average View Time: how long do people spend watching your videos? How far into the video do people get on average?
- Clicks: how many people click on the content you share and visit your website?
- Click-Thru-Rate: what percentage of viewers click on your link?
Your KPIs all work together to paint a clear picture of your business. For example, ten likes on a post could be a good or bad thing, depending on your impressions. If 100 people saw the content, a 10% engagement rate is high and impressive. However, 10 likes over 800 views will give you a considerably lower engagement rate.
Use your KPIs to understand your current social media engagement picture and then set goals to beat those numbers each month and quarter.
3. Diversify Your Content
There are two ways to diversify the content you share on social media: changing the messaging and changing how it is presented.
Diverse messages increase the chances that your content is relevant and interesting. For example, if every post has the same call to action (buy now), you will isolate people who don’t need that messaging. Even the people who are looking to buy from you can get annoyed by the same content. However, diverse messages appeal to different audiences. Plus, people are likelier to stick around if they see one message they don’t need.
The next step is to change how you present information. Some people might be drawn to video content, while others want to look at infographics or read valuable information. While some channels will limit the type of content you share (like videos on YouTube), other platforms (like Facebook) allow you to switch from video content to photos to text posts freely.
Changing up your content also allows you to track what works and what doesn’t so you can continuously improve your social presence to better connect with customers.
4. Leverage Testimonials
One content type you don’t want to overlook in your social media advertising efforts is testimonial marketing. This is the use of quotes, videos, and stories from customers who are happy with your services. Testimonials tap into word-of-mouth marketing because customers willingly share their stories with others.
Meet with your sales team to learn how you can collect customer testimonials. This might include asking customers at the end of the sale if they are willing to share their experience or reaching out to happy customers from the past few months. If you can collect a large pool of testimonials, you can develop content around these stories for the next several months.
Another perk of using customer testimonials is that your team doesn’t have to create the content. This is a great way to stretch your marketing budget while using an authoritative source (your customers) to promote your brand.
5. Don’t Forget to Engage With Customers
Social media isn’t a place to broadcast your content. Instead, it is a hub for conversations and two-way communication. Make sure you have a dedicated resource to respond to comments and questions on social media as they come in. (This includes comments on nights and weekends — social media doesn’t sleep.)
There are multiple reasons to prioritize engagement. First, it boosts your visibility. Your replies to customers count as engagement, which can elevate your post to social media algorithms. Liking and replying to a few customers can quickly make your post visible to others.
Next, engaging with customers builds relationships. You can make your audience feel special by valuing their comments and answering their questions quickly. If you provide good customer service on social media, your audience will feel more confident when visiting your in-office staff.
Finally, responding quickly can help you put out fires of negative comments and resolve issues before they become overblown. No one wants to log in on Monday morning and discover horrible comments on their pages. Actively responding can show that your team is listening and committed to helping customers.
More than half (57%) of customers expect responses from companies at the same speed on nights and weekends as during business hours, while 42% of customers expect you to answer their questions on social media within less than an hour. Don’t neglect these channels as customer support tools.
6. Remember That Social Media is a Top-Funnel Tool
In the world of car dealerships and auto sales, social media is part of the top sales funnel. It isn’t used to drive immediate sales but rather to increase customer engagement which brings people closer to a sale.
Your main goals for top-funnel marketing are awareness and consideration. You want to increase the number of people who know about your brand and make them remember your name. Then, when the time comes to do additional research related to auto sales, your branding will already be recognizable and memorable. In practice, this could mean a potential customer clicks on a paid search ad you have because they already know your name. All of your digital marketing efforts work together toward one goal.
There are some times when social media can drive sales conversions (like encouraging people to schedule routine oil changes), but most of your efforts will focus on engagement. As long as you keep top-funnel strategies in mind, you can develop effective tactics that drive results.
7. Stick to a Publishing Schedule
A big part of your social media strategy will revolve around your posting schedule. Too often, a brand will invest heavily in social media and post updates daily (or multiple times each day). Then the marketing budget will run out or the content team will get burned out, and the page will go dark. You don’t want a jerky, start-top social media presence. Instead, develop a long-term publishing schedule to keep your social strategy on cruise control.
There are two reasons why a publishing schedule is important: the human and the computer. The more a person sees your branding, the more likely they will remember it. If your social channel disappears from their feeds, your customers will likely forget about your brand.
This is where the computer comes in. Posting regularly can help boost your visibility in the algorithm. The new content gives the social media feeds something to share, which means your content will appear in front of people more often. This can have a snowball effect on your social media strategy. When more people see your content, you will get more engagement, which then drives the algorithm to share the content once again with more people because it is considered popular.
You are welcome to test this strategy for yourself. Stick to a regular publishing schedule and see how it affects your reach and engagement compared to your previous efforts.
Choose a Trusted Partner for Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is so much more involved than posting updates on Facebook. Effective dealerships develop multi-platform social media strategies with different types of content. They respond to customers and seek out engagement opportunities. This takes time and hard work, but the results are worth it.
If you are ready to take your social media game to the next level, contact the experts at J&L Marketing. We specialize in helping automotive teams increase their engagement which can drive sales. Reach out today and tell us your social media pain points. We’re here to solve them.