The face of Brooklyn Mitsubishi, the top-selling Mitsubishi dealership in the Northeast, is an outgoing and kinetic man who goes by the name El Patronn. El Patronn is the managing partner/general manager of the 20-year-old business. And he is a force of nature on social media.
El Patronn has earned thousands of followers across Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by unleashing a flurry of visual stories about his life inside and outside the dealership he leads to “help people find the car of their dreams” (in the words of the Brooklyn Mitsubishi website).
On any given week, you might find him on Instagram giving a tour of his dealership’s inventory, offering pep talks in his car while he sports his ever-present Carerra shades, having dinner at home with his family, or watching one of his cats, Oreo, pawing at a window in his office.
His Instagram content, brimming with inspirational quotes and selfies, exudes a playful, authentic vibe consistent with his personal website, which also mixes content from his dealership and his personal life.
Humanizing Your Brand with Social
El Patronn is an example of how social media helps automotive dealerships humanize their brands. In the digital age, buying a car still comes down to two people on a dealership’s lot agreeing on one of the most important, and emotional, decisions of a customer’s life. As Amazon threatens to digitize car buying, a dealership’s people remain a competitive weapon.
“Social media is about putting Brooklyn Mitsubishi on the map,” El Patronn told Cars.com in a recent interview. “I want people to see El Patronn on social and think of Brooklyn Mitsubishi and vice versa.”
With social media, a dealership can provide an inside look at the people who enable the purchase of a customer’s dream car. El Patronn, with his colorful, always-on approach, shows how to use social to create ripples of interest and visibility for a dealership.
He uses Instagram for more frequent bursts of content, such as brief video clips of himself urging his followers to “Make Every Deal,” a photo of his team, a shared moment from a visit with a reporter, or an on-the-lot promotion.
He likes to post motivational content in the morning, when people are either going to work or hitting the gym. He cross-posts that content on his LinkedIn page to maximize visibility. Sometimes he puts the spotlight on his customers.
On Facebook, he shares longer-form content such as livestreams at work, at home, and everywhere in between (as well as shorter clips cross-posted from Instagram, usually with the #welivkid hashtag). Facebook gives him a chance to engage with his fans more. He has become so popular that he’s hit the maximum allowable Facebook friend count. So, he’s created a Facebook group to accommodate everyone.
A Personal Approach
He told Cars.com that he started to embrace social media after attending a conference and learning about the power of personal branding. He said, “I thought, ‘Our dealership needs more visibility. What’s the worst that can happen if I give social a shot?’”
All along, El Patronn wanted to give people personal authenticity and transparency. So when he first started posting content on Facebook and Instagram, he mixed personal and professional stories. For instance, when he began working out faithfully to get into better shape, he updated his followers on his wellness journey to inspire them. The more he talked about his personal life, the more followers and engagement he got.
“People want someone who is real – someone they can relate to,” he explained. “People buy cars from people they are comfortable with. People buy cars from friends.”
Unvarnished and Unscripted
His Facebook livestreams, like his shorter posts, are unvarnished and unscripted. He is part motivational coach and part reality show. During a recent livestream as he and his wife drove through Connecticut, he joked with his followers, talked about growing up in Amityville, took note of the churros he had for lunch, discussed why he takes his kids to church every Sunday, and shared his passion for working hard and making deals. One moment he was talking about red being his preferred style color – and then he comfortably shifted gears and discussed the importance of his dealership adopting voice-based technology.
He explained to Cars.com that he rejects using overly polished videos, preferring to let the camera roll and capture a free flow of content that makes him more real and approachable.
“I do everything with an iPhone,” he said. “I don’t even have a fancy microphone. I like the rawness of my approach. People relate to that personal feel. They see my kids visiting the dealership on a Saturday. They see me being me. By the time you walk into Brooklyn Mitsubishi, you know who I really am.”
What You See Is What You Get
And indeed El Patronn in person reflects El Patronn on social media: confident, gregarious, and relentlessly upbeat. At the NADA Show in March, he was a blur of motion on the show room floor, instantly recognizable in a pink blazer, red trousers, and stylish tinted glasses. He hung out at the Cars.com booth where he talked with our CEO Alex Vetter and then naturally shared the moment on his Instagram.
According to El Patronn, his approach is working, with Brooklyn Mitsubishi becoming the fastest-growing Mitsubishi dealership in the country. His use of social media has driven foot traffic to the Brooklyn Mitsubishi lot, and Facebook and Instagram alone account for an 86-percent increase in website visits.
In addition, social is a proving ground for his employees. His posts set the example for how he wants his own team to be – always hustling and always visible. He told us he can tell whether a prospective salesperson will succeed at Brooklyn Mitsubishi by their attitude toward social. Those who want to learn how to use social to build customer relationships are more likely to get hired and prosper than those who don’t.
“Using social media is part of bringing about a cultural change in how dealerships engage with customers more personally and authentically,” he said. “I have to set the example. If I can create 20 El Patronns, I can really change culture. We’re just getting started.”
How to Be Like El Patronn
Humanizing a brand through social media does not happen by accident. Any retailer, automotive or otherwise, should apply a strategy and agreed-upon approach that includes considerations such as:
- Who will be your most active social media stars? Social media requires an ongoing effort. Here’s one approach to get started: give all your employees guidelines for how to represent your dealership on their personal socials; and identify someone on your team who is willing to devote more time and energy to social. You will need to be comfortable with the mix of professional and personal content appearing on your employees’ socials.
- How will you use social media? To maximize the value of your content, have an approach for how you will share content across social channels, as El Patronn has done. As noted, Facebook is more ideal for longer-form engagement and Instagram for shorter content.
Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to put your personal brand out there. As El Patronn told us, “Just press that record button. Don’t be afraid of what’s going to come out at the other end. I may look silly sometimes, but that’s what people love. They tell me they engage with me at the dealership because they relate to me on social. People want to relate to other people.”
To follow EL Patronn, check out these links:
Author: David Deal
David Deal is a marketing associate at Cars.com. He has contributed to a number of publications ranging from Adweek to Fast Company. He also writes for his own blog, Superhype.