It’s not a secret that car dealers spend lot of money on all types of marketing – from traditional marketing channels like TV, billboards, newspaper and radio ads to new ones like pay-per-click ads. However, a lot of them seem to forget, or better said, underestimate the value and power of social media which is basically for free. How will car dealers benefit from social media? It can solve two problems at once: get new clients and improve the whole image of a car dealership. Let me tell you more about how you can effectively take advantage of a social media age we live in now as a car dealer.
Posts must be personalized
One major mistake dealers make, is posting posts that basically look like ads. They post photos of cars in their inventory along with price, terms and a ton of specs. Here is where the problem lies: People see car dealers as greedy and dirty middlemen that rip people off on every car purchase. I’m sorry for this definition, but that’s how it is. Just try to search “car dealer” on YouTube, and you probably won’t find a single positive video. And then they come to the social media to “hang out,” have fun, read posts and chat with their friends and if they eventually come to the dealership page what do they see? Greedy car dealers trying to sell them a car again, which will only make their opinion about car dealers stronger. So, what to do about this? Do what real people do on social networks – be personal, be funny, be close to your potential customers! You will not only have more people engaging with your posts and following you, but also you can effectively change their mind about you.
Post photos of your employees working, doing funny stuff, car jokes, share local news and secretly mention cars you sell. When you do this, people will feel like they know you (they actually will) and can trust you. But make no mistake: This doesn’t mean you should make your social media profiles centers of entertainment and forget to let people know that you sell cars.
Being customer-centered is the key to social media, not only for car dealers but also several other businesses. I also suggest using relevant hashtags – #likethis. Use your city/area name and some other hashtags that describe the image you upload or the text you post quite well. For example, if you have a picture of your GM posing with a new Corvette and your dealership is located in Dallas, use hashtags #corvette #z06 #dallas #cardealer – thanks to this, people interested in Corvette or Dallas will see your posts.
Which social networks to use
Obviously, it makes sense to use three main platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The ones that didn’t make my list are Google+ (nobody uses it), LinkedIn (used more like a showcase, not a lot of regular users which are corporate anyway) and Pinterest (difficult to target local audience). So, let’s focus on the social networks where it really makes sense:
Facebook: Facebook is the best among the pack, despite their weird changes in algorithms that choose which posts (of pages you like), you will see and those you won’t see. Facebook allows you to include your phone number, dealership info, opening hours, along with a possibility for your customers to write reviews. The number of fans of car dealer page on Facebook usually varies from 2,000 to 5,000 – the number of fans also largely depends on your area – bigger area means more possible fans.
Twitter: Twitter is usually underestimated, and car dealers tend to post here occasionally or even ignore it totally. It’s true that Twitter doesn’t have the number and type of users Facebook does, but it’s the second largest social networks and definitely a good platform to reach new clients. Twitter relies on using hashtags much more than Facebook, so in order to maximize your post reach, the use of appropriate hashtags is crucial.
Instagram: Instagram is becoming a more important social network for all businesses, and same applies to car dealers too. Its large audiences of young(ish) people make it a perfect place to get your dealership on their map. In my opinion, Instagram is even better than Facebook when it comes to establishing a relationship with potential customers.
Another important thing to consider is how frequent your posts should be. From personal experience, car dealers use to post about 10 posts per month. I suggest something around 60 posts every month, which means two posts a day. Posting too much can turn against you: current fans or followers will have enough of your posts and will unfollow you. So, try to establish a balance between posting less and bugging your fans with excess posts.
How to setup a profile
Setting up a profile on social networks is a fast, but crucial step. First off, always fill all fields possible – the more information you provide, the more trustworthy you’re going to look. Then upload profile and cover picture. What really amazes me is why a lot of dealers use some commercial photos of one of the cars they sell instead of a beautiful photo of their dealership as a cover photo. When somebody visits your profile, you want him or her to know who you are immediately. And I’m sure the photo of your dealership will give him or her a better idea about you than a photo of a Corolla that can be found anywhere on the internet.
Paid social media posts
You can get really good results and reach a ton of people if you get really creative without the need of boosting your posts with money. But if you want, all social networks I’ve mentioned will show your posts as ads to a selected audience of people if you decide to pay for it – it’s really difficult to talk about exact prices here as it greatly varies on your location and industry – the bigger city and the more competitive industry, the higher prices are. My opinion on this is to invest literally few dollars, see what the results are and then decide whether it’s worth it.
How to post on all social networks
Have you ever been thinking of how to cope with the tremendous amount of time spent trying to post on social network every month? You know what it takes to post 60 posts per month on the three major social media networks discussed so far? Quite time consuming and challenging! However, the good news is that you don’t have to do all this yourself. There are a lot of tools out there – I suggest Buffer or Hootsuite – that not only enable you to send a post to multiple social networks at once but also allow you to schedule your posts so that they will be automatically posted at your chosen time. If you don’t want premium features (not really needed), these tools are for free.
To sum it up, social media is a great way to reach your current and potential clients and make a stronger relationship with them. It doesn’t take that much time (15 minutes should be more than enough to think up and post 2 posts every day), and it’s basically free if you decide to do it yourself. Once you’ve got it taped, social media is one of the very few ways that allow you to get personal – I doubt you’d pay expensive TV ad and show them how you’re having fun while lunching with your fellow sales managers. The good thing about social media is that, lots of car dealers are not harnessing its potential yet, which makes it a great space for you to step in.
Author: Martin Pecko
Martin Pecko is the Owner BlueCarPPC.com, an online marketing agency for car dealers. He’s always looking for new, creative ways to do things.