I’m sure you’ve heard of the theory of six degrees of separation, many of us are familiar with it through a game involving Kevin Bacon. In case you are unfamiliar, this theory states that everyone in the world is connected to any other person by six people or less.
You might be asking what this has to do with selling cars. Let’s say for a minute that you were looking for your soul mate. If you never leave your house, chances aren’t very good that you’ll find him or her. The minute you leave your house, the odds that you meet that person increase. If you start participating in activities that would put you in a position of meeting people socially, your odds just increased even more. Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
When speaking about car dealerships in terms of branding and awareness, it’s not all that different. Car dealerships are constantly on the hunt for their true love… their next sale. Dealerships spend vast amounts of money to market themselves — whether that’s through television, radio, or digitally. However, just as anyone is connected to anyone else by six degrees of separation, so is your dealership. Based on this theory, every one of your employees and customers are connected to someone searching for their next vehicle.
Social media marketing for car dealerships is not rocket science. Yes, there are algorithms in play and some sites are becoming pay to play, but the end goal for any business is meeting the next right person. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling cars or shoes, that customer is out there and social media can help you find them.
Knowing that the deeper you go into your customers networks, the more likely you are to make a sale, it would seem obvious that you would endeavor to accomplish that. Many dealers, however, are looking for an instant connection — that direct line between a Facebook post or tweet and a sale. For the most part, those are few and far between. Why? Because there is no way to calculate influence outside of networks. However, that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t happen.
People trust their friends and families. In some cases, they’ll post to their social networks to ask for advice. How many times has someone contacted you and said a previous customer referred them to you? It happens all the time.
The point is that the best way to gain access and exposure to any person’s social network is through that person. But how do you get them to make the introduction? You have to join the party. I guarantee that you’ll never see any sales coming from social media if you don’t use it. You have to figure out how to pierce that network. And the best way to do that is by providing content that a person finds value in sharing with their friends.
Facebook is continuously changing its algorithms to reduce branded content through Facebook Pages unless a business is willing to fork over money. Because of this, the best way to achieve the ultimate goal of an introduction is by getting your customers to do it for you. If you walked down the street and a stranger tried to introduce himself to you, you may not be willing or open to meeting them. If you see that stranger accompanied by your friend, however, your friend’s presence will more than likely result in a successful introduction.
There are many experts that throw all sorts of strategies, complexities and just enough data to confuse dealers. Naturally dealers then stop paying attention — unless a vendor can show direct ROI from social media that, in many cases, isn’t possible. (Although that is slowly changing.) Social media can be an extremely effective way to get connected. No other platform exists at this time that allows you to reach thousands of relevant people, in your market, that may want to buy a car. And I am pretty sure that there is no other platform that where your customers will actually help you sell a car through their recommendations.
Buying a car is a big event in most people’s lives. Humans love to share their successes with their friends. Chances are your Facebook newsfeed is filled with all of your friend’s successes and happy moments. If you can provide a way for your customers to share their car buying experience using your branded content, you just accomplished something that no newspaper or television ad could ever do.
The key to motivating a customer to share content you provide is simple. Provide unique content that they will WANT to share. Perhaps photos or video that highlights the moment of vehicle delivery. And then make it easy for them to share. Technology makes this easy but many dealers aren’t taking advantage of the power in social media. In the end, the ultimate goal is to discover how far you can get along the degrees of separation before you meet your next customer. And you can’t do that without your customer’s assistance.
How many steps are you away from that next customer and what are you doing to find them?