Did you know more than 1 billion people use Instagram each month?
And, 200 million of those users visit at least one business profile each day.
Car dealerships across the country are actively using Instagram to generate brand awareness and put customers in brand new cars.
Of course, as with any social media platform, your car dealership needs to have an Instagram strategy in place for the best results. After all, posting content is one thing. Creating a community of loyal followers and reaching your sales goals is another!
When you’re ready to launch or improve your dealership’s Instagram strategy, keep our nine tips and tricks in mind.
1. Optimize Your Instagram Profile
First impressions matter, especially in the automotive industry. Viewing your Instagram profile is often the first interaction a user has with your brand. With this in mind, don’t you want to put your best foot forward?
Optimizing your Instagram profile is the first step towards success on the platform. Begin by ensuring that all of your business information is correct and included on your profile, such as your brand name, address, phone number, and website URL.
Also, be sure to use a recognizable profile picture. Whatever picture you choose must instantly tell customers who you are and what business account they’ve stumbled across. Most car dealerships use their company logo, storefront, or other identifiable business feature as their profile picture.
In addition, be sure to make your profile a “Business Profile” on Instagram. To do so, you’ll need to follow these steps:
2. Plan an Instagram Content Strategy
Freely posting vehicle photos from your iPhone isn’t a good Instagram strategy. Sure, you’ll gain a few likes and followers, but how sustainable is that for a business that relies on consistent sales.
Instead, you need to plan out each post as part of a larger social media content strategy. The beauty of Instagram is the wealth of content you can create and share with your audience, including Instagram Stories and IGTV posts.
For example, your Instagram posts could include photos and videos of:
- Car service and maintenance tips
- The latest inventory arrivals
- New promotions
- Staff bios
- “How-to” content
- Vehicle troubleshooting tips
Without a content strategy for Instagram, it’ll feel like you’re randomly picking and choosing content to post with the hope that it does well. By leaning on a strategy, you’ll have a sense of direction, and you’ll be able to utilize prior data to make informed content decisions.
3. Use 3rd Party Instagram Tools to Your Advantage
Within the native Instagram app, you only have so much content flexibility. Fortunately, third-party apps and tools allow you to schedule posts in advance, analyze your current Instagram performance, plan out your feed appearance, and so much more.
Before you sign up for every tool’s free trial, think about what problems you are encountering with your Instagram strategy. For instance, if you are struggling to find the perfect hashtags for your posts, use tools such as Display Purposes or Hashtagify. Or, if you keep forgetting to post to your Instagram page, rely on scheduling tools like Buffer or Later.
While these tools can be helpful, they should also fit well within your budget. With this in mind, make sure you test out tools prior to signing up for a subscription. Doing so enables you to determine if the tool will indeed solve your Instagram problem and has all the features your strategy requires, such as scheduling, hashtag suggestions, and more.
4. Showcase the Customer
As a car dealership, you interact with customers day in and day out. Why not make them the star of your Instagram feed?
From first-time car buyers to your most loyal customers, make it a point of celebrating each time a customer purchases a vehicle from your dealership with a photo opportunity. Since buying a car is a large financial and emotional investment, this small chance to share in your customer’s accomplishment will be appreciated by all parties involved.
Of course, be sure to get their approval before publishing it on Instagram!
5. Instagram Analytics is Your Friend
Your dealership cannot make informed Instagram decisions if you don’t have data to back up your choices. Those with an Instagram Business account (which your dealership should have) have access to a wealth of data about their account’s engagement, audience, and more.
You must use this data to inform your decisions about content, audience growth, advertising campaigns, and other areas related to your Instagram strategy. Otherwise, you’ll be aimlessly posting Instagram content with no direction once again.
Use Instagram Analytics to garner insight into your:
- Content Success - Dive into how many likes/comments/saves your photos and videos are getting along with information about where the engagement came from and which actions were taken.
- Audience and Community - Track your audience growth while learning more about your community, including location, age, gender, and active times of the day.
- Activity - Follow what’s happening on your profile, including the number of profile visits, button clicks, impressions, and more.
6. Hashtag Accordingly
Hashtags are both a blessing and a curse for Instagram users.
While hashtags can help users find new, exciting content related to their interests, they are also used in spammy ways by those trying to game the platform. This leads to distrust from users and a lack of engagement for businesses utilizing the wrong hashtag strategy.
When using hashtags as part of your Instagram plan, follow these best practices:
Don’t Overdo It
According to a study by TrackMaven, posts with nine hashtags receive the most engagement. And, Instagram only allows up to 30 hashtags per post. With this in mind, strive to identify the most relevant, high-performing hashtags and include them in your posts.
Double-Check Hashtag Meanings
Sometimes that popular trending hashtag may have an entirely different meaning than what you think. Always double-check the context of a hashtag before using it in your posts.
Consider Creating Your Own Hashtag
Branded hashtags are an excellent way to track your content and encourage users to interact with your brand. Brainstorm a few hashtags and work with your team to identify a branded hashtag that is topical, easy to remember and use, and not already in use by another brand. From there, use this hashtag in your profile, Instagram content, and social media campaigns.
7. Use Customer Content to Your Advantage
Remember, 88% of consumers trust online reviews written by other consumers. And a picture says a thousand words, right? It was also discovered that user-generated content has a 4.5% higher chance of conversion. This statistic increases to 9.6% if a user interacts with the content, too.
Your customers post about a variety of experiences online. From purchasing their first car to finally getting the dream vehicle they’ve been saving for, encourage your customers to share their experiences with your dealership on Instagram.
By sharing these customer images and videos (with their permission, of course), you’ll also gain the trust of prospective buyers researching your dealership online. Plus, you’ll have a wealth of new content for your Instagram posting strategy.
8. Go Live on Instagram
Did you know Cisco predicts that live Internet video will account for 17% of Internet video traffic by 2022? Going live on Instagram enables your customers to interact with your brand in real-time and get a firsthand look at what’s going on at your dealership. Use Instagram’s live video feature to highlight new vehicles, an event, an upcoming promotion, or whatever suits your current marketing strategy needs.
However, before going live, make sure you have a plan in place and a quiet place to conduct the video. There’s nothing more awkward than aimlessly rambling in front of viewers while there’s chaos in the background!
Consider doing your live videos from an office or a quiet place on your showroom floor for the best results. And, have a list of talking points so you stay on track throughout your live video.
9. Encourage Your Sales Team to Use Instagram
While having a branded Instagram account for your dealership is a must, encourage your sales team to take it a step further by launching their own Instagram accounts. On these profiles, your sales team can:
- Post creative content designed to educate and entertain potential customers
- Interact with local businesses to grow their professional network
- Engage with prospective customers
- Keep an eye on dealership marketing trends
The more your sales team uses creative ways to capture the attention of prospective customers, the better the relationships they can build with future car buyers!
How Will Your Car Dealership Use Instagram?
It’s predicted that 75.3% of U.S. businesses will use Instagram. Will your car dealership be one of them?
The team at J&L Marketing is ready to help you formulate the perfect Instagram strategy using our proven tips and tricks. From content creation to advertising analytics, we’re here for your dealership every step of the way.