There are 2.3 billion active social media users. For context, world population is 7.3 billion. So, when one-third of the world’s population is using social media, it stands to reason then that a social media strategy to engage car shoppers is important, no? So many dealerships skip over social media strategy (learn more about social strategy in my session at the upcoming Digital Dealer auto conference) and go right into tactics, and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results they expected.
Setting goals greatly increases the chance of achieving them, but so many jump into social media without determining what their goals should be.
Others bring their goals to the table with wide-eyed enthusiasm but get attached to problematic tactics. When those don’t work, they give up and say, “Social media doesn’t work for us.”
The challenge of making social media work doesn’t vanish when people give up.
Today, you are on social media whether you’re participating or not. Conversations happen around your brand and some customers even prefer to communicate via social media. If you’re not engaging then your competitor will be.
With a well-defined social media strategy, which includes a plan to distinguish your brand/dealership, things fall into place rapidly. Everyday problems that seemed unfixable suddenly become an afterthought. There’s no wasting of valuable assets on efforts of little value. Worthwhile tactics come into focus and begin to pay off.
Here’s an example to illustrate how well defined social media strategy clears the path for success.
We recently got a request from a large company to help them get traction with a new product via social media. The company leadership was admittedly in the dark about how social media works but they recognized its importance and wanted expert guidance.
Most leaders have a preliminary plan of how their operations need to shift with the launch of a new product. Where things get murky is how best to present the product into the social space, what metrics to track, and how to budget for it.
With all the players in place, including data, we were able to provide them with a social media strategy that delivered the right message, reached the right people at the right time, and exceeded their goals by 35%.
As social media becomes even more complicated, and as skeptical consumers have growing disinterest in run-of-the-mill brands and offers, the need for social media strategy gets more intense.
If you don’t have the expertise in-house to determine actionable goals and integrate a social media strategy that works for you, sharpen up your skills by attending the Digital Dealer Conference & Expo (their next auto conference is this April), or contact a qualified expert to help remove the guesswork and establish the best course of action.
Social Media Strategy…For the Win!
Here are 6 common business challenges that can be solved with social media strategy.
Challenge #1: Weak Brand Awareness
Social media is ideal for reaching a broader audience, however, why you post is central to success. Every post, update, and tweet creates an impression in users’ minds.
Social media strategy to solve this challenge: Steps must be taken to identify what makes the company and its products valuable. You must define why people choose you rather than your competitor.
Refrain from promotional sales content when the challenge is strengthening brand awareness. Approach as though you’re meeting these users in person for the first time. No one likes to be greeted with a sales pitch so focus on more meaningful content that personifies why customers choose you.
Challenge #2: Declining Customer Retention
It costs five to eight times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Social media is excellent for staying in touch with current customers.
Social media strategy to solve this challenge: Treat your social channels as communities where like-minded people come to hang out. Appoint a “community manager” who engages and supports your community by listening and being responsive to questions, needs and concerns.
A good social media relationship with customers improves perceptions and offline relationships.
Challenge #3: Poor Online Reputation
Reviews are insanely influential.
- 90% of consumers read online reviews.
- 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 86% will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative reviews.
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more with a business that has positive reviews.
- 92% will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating.
Don’t give online ratings sites the power to control your dealership. If what’s being said about you doesn’t mirror the true customer experience delivered, take action now to turn things around.
Social media strategy to solve this challenge: Remove the obstacles that stymie reviews.
Create a review funnel. Systematically drive customers to one conversion funnel that routes them to the review sites you care about.
- Automatically ask, remind and guide happy customers through the funnel.
- Recover unhappy customers before they vent online.
Challenge #4: Declining or Nonexistent Connection with Customers
We’ve been witnessing a massive shift in what it means to be effective on social media over the last few years. One challenge that companies face in this new era of social media marketing is connecting with customers on an individual and personal level.
Connecting with customers in meaningful ways humanizes your brand and builds genuine relationships.
Social media strategy to solve this challenge: Monitor all social media channels and respond authentically (aka: like a human!). Ask questions, provide insights, or offer help with problems.
- Leverage free or low-cost brand monitoring tools such as Respond, Mention or TweetDeck.
- Engage with Facebook users’ comments.
- Respond to every single mention on Twitter and Instagram.
Challenge #5: Low Search Visibility
Nearly every buyer starts her or his purchase journey online. Your website is the virtual storefront of your business and not being found in search means fewer customers and decreased revenue.
On Google, and now Facebook, it’s super important to be visible when people are searching for what you sell.
Social media strategy to solve this challenge: To improve your dealership’s search visibility on Google, focus tactics on publishing links to content that go directly to your website. These “social signals” are a ranking factor and over time, will increase a site’s authority.
To improve search visibility on Facebook, promote those links to your helpful content using Facebook ads. Pages with high engagement show up in search more prominently. This positions your company as a trusted resource.
Challenge #6: Slow Sales
Social advertising is one of the most powerful tools to increase auto sales. By publishing engaging content, you lay the groundwork for further engagement. The next natural step is to target would-be car buyers with offers.
Social media strategy to solve this challenge: Facebook ads identify and reach ideal customers. But strategic ad design is crucial. Ads must compel buyers to click.
Pro Tip: Use landing pages with lead forms to drive conversions.
Time is now to take action with social media strategy.
Today’s challenges need to be met with today’s solutions. Companies must develop a strong foundational social media strategy to meet those challenges.
Everywhere you look it appears brands and companies have social media all figured out. This can leave you wondering, “What are we not doing right on social media?” It’s time to take the guesswork out of social media.
Join me at Digital Dealer’s upcoming auto conference this April 11-13th in Tampa, FL, for my session: “What is Social Media Strategy and Why Do I Need It?”. You’ll get helpful tips to develop your own strategy and an action plan to put them into place.
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”.