It is time. Regardless of personal opinions, comfort levels, feeling overwhelmed or just disinterested in the concept, it is time for your dealership to have a social media presence.
No longer can you peek from behind the curtain to see how this social media movement plays out. Your customers and online automotive users have dictated that it is time to engage and take advantage of the benefits behind participating in social media. Need further convincing? Seventy-five percent of automotive customers have told Kelley Blue Book in various surveys that they engage on Facebook and other social platforms. If you knew you had a chance to reach out to this customer base by a different means, you would find a way to make it happen. However, with social media there seems to be a sense of intimidation toward entering the unknown social sphere.
Kelley Blue Book can bury you in statistics to prove the case, but in its simplest terms, to remain front and center with current and future customers, and achieve maximum and constant visibility, you need to be where your customers are. And, your customers are telling us they are online using social media. That is the bottom line.
There are several responses we have heard from dealers who have not yet implemented a social media strategy. Most have formed and believed their own justification for putting off participation in this area because it was unfamiliar, viewed as cumbersome, time intensive and just plain scary to stretch out of their comfort zone and into this always-expanding online marketing game.
Not to worry. Dealers were in a very similar situation in 1995 with the introduction of automotive Internet sales and came out on the other side, in many cases better than before. For most, it took a change of perspective and some prodding, but for those who quickly embraced the change from traditional to online advertising, they recognized it early in the game as an efficient way to drive a profitable business. Those late to join the party have spent much of their time trying to catch up with the rest of the industry. For those still resisting the need to involve their dealership in social marketing, let’s simplify this a bit.
All of us were taught early on that in the car business, the most reliable and profitable customers are repeat and referral business. Social marketing gives you the opportunity to continue to capture these customers by simply reaching customers where they ‘live’ online. Along the way, you will be able to reach out to plenty of other customers that can be positively influenced to do business with you by those who already have done so and had a good experience. The thought process about the move into social marketing really needs to be viewed as an incredible and more efficient opportunity to do what you have been preaching and practicing for years. The benefit to you is that you will be able to interact more often, personably, timely, valuably and to greater numbers of current and prospective customers, than you ever could through newsletters or direct mail. Of even greater benefit is that by sharing the right information, consumers will interact in return, which builds the cornerstone of any successful business: relationships.
There is plenty of great information on popular industry sites to help you get started. Research and develop a basic, easy-to-implement social media strategy to jumpstart growth. Start slowly to help you and your customers get excited about this new relationship. By doing so, you will be well on your way to succeeding with the next level of marketing to keep you in touch and help drive new, repeat and referral business.