When I mention Facebook and Instagram to dealers, I often get the eye roll reaction. It’s understandable. For many people, it’s difficult to separate personal and professional opinions about Facebook. On a personal level, some people view it as fun or frivolous; others view it as superficial or even a complete waste of time. On a professional level, many dealers have spent a lot of money and time to maintain presence on a platform that has delivered uncertain results.
Ironically, one of the top reasons why you may not like Facebook is the exact reason why you should include it in your marketing mix. If you believe Facebook is a “time waster,” guess where a lot of your customers are spending their time?
According to Statista, in 2018 the number of projected Facebook users in the U.S. will be 207 million. The average time spent on Facebook per visit is 20 minutes, according to Infodocket.
I also want to talk about Instagram, which hasn’t been around as long as Facebook but is increasingly important to business marketers. In 2018, approximately 96 million Americans will have Instagram accounts, according to Statista. Eighty percent of Instagram users follow at least one business, and they are 58 times more likely to like, comment or share a brand’s post than Facebook users, according to Forrester Research.
Impressive numbers, yet simply having a presence on these platforms does not guarantee that your followers will visit your dealership and buy a car or make a service appointment. I know from my own experience that one of the most frustrating aspects of social marketing is that it has been impossible to come up with a tangible ROI.
Rethink Your Goals
For years you’ve probably heard that the measures of social success are the number of likes, fans, shares and comments. More recently with social ads you can see the number of views and clicks. But what do any of these metrics tell you about whether your marketing efforts are successful?
Dealerships market because they want more business. Their goals are to build awareness of their dealership and to drive more website traffic, leads and service and sales appointments. In marketing, our goal is to reach as many consumers as possible, as many times as possible. This is called reach x frequency.
You may have heard that the reason you need to be on Facebook and Instagram is to build relationships and influence minds. Eventually, this may lead to more business…or it may not.
It’s time to rethink that goal.
The reason you need to be on Facebook and Instagram is because that’s where your current and past customers are spending their time. The goals you have for these social channels should be the same goals you have for the rest of your marketing channels.
Instead of counting your “Likes” and comments, you should be measuring your lift in brand awareness. Instead of trying to get more shares, you should be trying to convert more views into website visitors and leads, and to have customers contact your dealership to make service appointments. Instead of trying to influence, your goal should be customer retention.
How is this possible?
Rethink Your Strategy
Advances in marketing automation and data analytics are changing how we are able to reach customers on Facebook and Instagram. It’s now possible to match the customers in your DMS or CRM with their social media profiles.
When you cross-reference Facebook and Instagram users with your own customer data, these two platforms become highly influential marketing channels that deliver incredible results.
On the sales side, your dealership can now deliver targeted messages at every stage of the customer journey: awareness, consideration, acquisition and transaction. This is accomplished by tracking the online behavior of in-market shoppers and delivering a custom video, carousel ad or lead ad right into their news feed at the right time in the buying cycle.
On the service side, you can deliver service reminders, appointment reminders, recall notices, coupons, offers and other messages into your customers’ news feeds.
This technology also works with multi-channel campaigns. Let’s say you’re running a service special for brake pads. In your DMS you target customers with between 40,000 and 60,000 miles on their vehicles. Your multi-channel approach includes emails, texts and postcards. Now you can add Facebook and Instagram to those channels. Your targeted audience will see the same offer in their news feed.
This multi-channel approach significantly increases both reach and frequency.
One of the biggest frustrations that marketers have had with social media is the lack of attribution. Your dealership page may have thousands of fans, but how many of them have scheduled a service appointment?
The ability to tie a customer name in your CRM to a social media profile allows you to track all of their activity, including views, clicks, website conversions, lead generation, appointments, store visits, service appointments and sales.
Attribution reports make it easy to measure how successful a particular video, offer or ad was. In the same way, you can measure revenue generated from a single email campaign, you can now measure revenue generated from a Facebook or Instagram campaign.
I always recommend using both Facebook and Instagram because it’s more cost-effective and you get greater reach than running a standard campaign on either platform alone. Also, in recent years many Facebook and Twitter users have defected to Instagram, so in effect, Facebook is capturing its own defectors.
Data analytics is transforming the way we approach marketing on Facebook and Instagram. As exciting as these developments are, I don’t recommend abandoning your current social strategy. Organic content still has value, but the reach of these postings has dropped dramatically. Facebook and Instagram are definitely “pay to play” platforms, but at least now they can play nicely with your existing marketing strategy.
Author: Scot Eisenfelder
Scot Eisenfelder is a 25+ automotive market veteran who has driven innovation across multiple auto sectors. Previously, Scot was Senior Vice President Strategy at AutoNation, responsible for major change initiatives in eCommerce, pricing, IT and creating a blueprint for auto retail transformation and before that served as acting CMO, focused on realigning marketing spending. Before that, Scot led JM Family’s dealer software business and was Senior Vice President Product Management, Strategy and Marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds, leading both companies through value creating sales. Scot is a Board member of Quorum, a public dealer software company. He has an MBA from Wharton School, graduating with distinction and is a Palmer Scholar. He attended Mannheim University in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar and graduated summa cum laude in Economics from Princeton.