Social media marketing isn’t new anymore but many dealers are still struggling to make it work. Delivering a relevant, consistent message to fans accelerates a better online reputation and ultimately drives leads and sales.
But for many dealers, the path from social media adoption to success is a rocky road.
It’s hard to know which way to turn when the destination isn’t yet clear.
I was recently on a panel at a large auto dealer conference where we discussed digital marketing. Facebook was the clear winner in popularity; mainly due to how it’s become embedded in customers’ lives…and that Facebook ads are so effective at reaching them.
There was this poor man who was clearly struggling. He came up after the panel session with a bewildered look on his face. He said, “This is all so overwhelming.” He was not alone, either. While there were a few people in the room who’ve made strides in the world of social media marketing, more than half of the room had the same look on their faces as the man who’d approached me.
I have a lot of compassion for these dealers. When I got home, I contemplated why exactly – what’s the driving force in me that’s compelled to help? What I discovered is two things: 1) My Buick grandfather was a car dealer in the 50s-60s in Downtown Los Angeles (and I’m a car gal to the core), so I feel a deep connection to these guys and gals, and 2) I flat out don’t like to watch people struggle.
There’s a common pain point that many dealers (and their agencies) seem to have: how to overcome the conspicuous overwhelm that creeps in when it comes to social media marketing.
We’re in a time where many dealers are finding it necessary to recreate and redefine their business success stories. You can’t afford to be stuck when the world is moving at lightening speed.
There are a host of obstacles that contribute to feeling overwhelmed with social media marketing:
- Lack of knowledge. When you feel uninformed or misinformed, of course you’re reluctant to move forward.
- Uncertainty about what to post or what metrics to track for success.
- Confusion around responding to users/customers on social media or online ratings sites.
- Skepticism that social media marketing is worth the trouble.
- Anxiety over making the investment and watching it fail.
The good news is that feeling overwhelmed by social media marketing doesn’t have to be permanent.
It’s always smart to take a step back and regroup. If your level of overwhelm is low, a break from the action can certainly do the trick. I find this happens most when marketing managers suddenly realize they are out of content ideas. When you’re refreshed, and not under a looming deadline, referring back to your content strategy can always bust open the dam of ideas.
When the level of overwhelm is high, like the poor man who approached me at the conference, those situations call for more reinforcements. He and many others like him haven’t had the benefit of a trusted resource to help them design a solid social media marketing plan.
Whenever I have a client who’s overwhelmed or stuck, I guide them back to home base with one or more of the following three exercises. These will help you stay grounded so that you can progress and reach your goals.
- Don’t Try to Be All Things to All People.
Profitable dealerships know their customers inside and out.
In our online data-filled world, it’s even more critical to approach marketing with a greater understanding of who your customers are. Your content will be noticed more, engaged with more and your ads will get better results.
Facebook advertising offers such a vast array of targeting options that if you haven’t done a deeper dive into who you want to reach, you’ll end up spending extra to serve ads to strangers and miss those that are more likely to buy from you.
Investigate where your customers spend their time. Decide which social network will bring you the best results.
If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll not only be overwhelmed, you’ll end up not really reaching anyone with a meaningful message.
It’s okay to test the different platforms but focus on one first (usually Facebook). Get your content strategy in place and master that network. Then you can decide whether you want to move onto other platforms.
Be where your customers are. If you know them inside and out, you’ll reach them on the platforms where they spend their time.
- Re-Define Your Goals.
To establish ROI (Return on Investment) you must come to the table with objectives. Without goals you’ll have nothing to tie your results back to.
What would you like to achieve with social media marketing?
Focusing on vanity metrics (like a huge number of likes) isn’t as important anymore. There’s still a value for companies to grow a community on Facebook to mirror their real-life community. But, now that many social networks have developed reliable, relevant, paid solutions with never-before-seen targeting capabilities, it’s no longer necessary to focus on quantity of audience for social marketing success. Social ad targeting now makes it easier and more efficient to focus on quality of audience.
With your goals defined, each one represents a need to apply a strategy:
- Higher quality audience
- More connected and engaged customers
- Develop warmer leads
Each of these goals can be achieved with the right strategy, consistent measurement and thoughtful analysis.
- Re-examine Your Content Strategy.
Why you post on social media is as important as what you post. When you’re overwhelmed or stuck, it’s best to break the dam free by re-examining your content strategy for reaching ideal customers.
“Why Buy Here” is an often-underutilized tool. Many dealers launch into social media without any idea of why their customers choose them over the competition, and sadly, this is the seed that grows your social media marketing tree.
“Why” is the reason customers buy. A great “why buy here” message is unique to your company, is backed up by facts (awards, numbers, in-store policies) and it answers “What’s in it for me?” for the buyer.
Providing answers to a few simple questions can really help inform your decisions.
- What are our core values and beliefs?
- What do we want consumers to leave thinking about our company and its products?
- Why do customers choose us over our competitors?
- What kinds of information do customers typically need to make their decisions about buying?
- What factors do they compare and weigh when deciding between our product and a competitor’s product?
If you haven’t been through a “Why Buy Here” exercise, consider asking your very best customers why they choose you. It will provide great insight into how the company is perceived and the answers might surprise you!
I generally have a hard time finding dealership Facebook pages with solid results. I suspect it is similar in other sectors too. Many decision makers don’t know for sure what social media marketing success looks like. They only know they need to be there.
Launching any endeavor without a plan and no real idea about what to expect from your efforts, leads to feelings of overwhelm.
Don’t find yourself getting stuck. Ask questions and stay grounded with these three tips. Capture the value in social media marketing. Be methodical, gain as much information as you can, and expect quality results from your efforts.
Author: Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”.