Social media agencies may all seem the same – but they’re not. Especially when it comes to marketing auto dealerships.
Take, for instance, the agencies that are approved by the manufacturers, or OEM. These agencies serve a sole purpose – to benefit the manufacturer and promote new vehicles. Now, we all know that new vehicles represent a large part of the revenue-generation machine, but are they the dealership’s only revenue generator? Is it the largest?
Also, do the agencies that serve the manufacturer know your demographic? Your community and the things that drive the citizens of your city to patronize this dealership or that one?
Social media is just that: social. If you forget that fact or never learn it, you overlook what the platforms are all about. Agencies that serve your OEM, by and large, do not serve you. They may take social media tasks off of your plate, but are they really servicing you and your community?
Some agencies serve other industries and believe that automotive customers behave on social media in the same way they do for all other businesses. These agencies handle your dealership’s social media work as if it was for any other business. BIG MISTAKE! The automotive industry has many variables and differences that distinguish it from other businesses. If you don’t come from an automotive background, you cannot serve this vertical. Many will try, and fail.
Not all agencies realize that all platforms are different and have different approaches to content. In this article, Rue La La addresses the different uses of each platform and how they use them in their marketing mix. Says La La: “… before social media managers can define what type of content is best for a given platform, they must first have a strong understanding of the spaces they’re operating in.” How many agencies actually understand social platforms beyond Facebook? This is an old article – yet in 2014, the writer still understood the power of knowing what to post where.
If you could only see how many automotive accounts I audit that post exactly same content to every platform, at the same time, with the same graphics. They don’t even resize them for the appropriate platform. In case you didn’t know, Facebook graphics should be a different size than Twitter graphics. Yes, really!
Engagement – what is it all about?
Sometimes you just need to post something, right? There are times when you’ll take a loss on an old unit too, just to get it out the door.
Now, we all know we can’t do business like this every day, but sometimes it’s necessary. Similarly, there will be days when you just need to post something on your social channels. There may be no real value to what you post, but it gets the job done.
I’m not saying this is an acceptable practice, just as your manager will never say that taking a “mini” is okay. You should have a social strategy and ways to engage with your audience. Look around your dealership/business, and find something interesting. Shoot a picture of a technician changing some brakes, or one of the title clerks chasing down a title. Use these images to let your customers know what goes on behind the scenes. People are interested in the everyday workings of your business. If you’re getting new inventory, time-lapse the vehicles coming off of the truck, or if you’re a small business, do an “unboxing.”
All this stuff may seem ordinary to you, but you’d be surprised at how many people would find it fascinating. Be sure to ask them a question in the post, such as, “Which one of these Kia Sedonas will be parked in your driveway?” or “Who’s ready to see the new spring fashions arriving at the store this week?”
Better yet, go live with this content! Don’t worry about whether no one is watching or if you sound funny. Just do it. This is what engagement is all about – getting people interested in what your business does and offers. They will like, share and comment on your posts, and this will make it worth the effort you put into it.
If your audience takes time to comment, be sure to reply. They’re interested in what you’re posting, and this is a warm conversation. They may already be a customer of the dealership, but maybe not the service department. Here we might build a new relationship and bring them back into the dealership for service. There should always be a strategy when you post about the dealership: it should always about growing market share and letting the community know what your business is all about, who you serve and how you serve them.
- Facebook is a slower platform with the largest reach. For many (but not all) brands, their Facebook page operates much like a website.
- On the other hand, information flows very quickly through Twitter, which is also the most successful platform for connecting celebrities, politicians and brands with people.
- The rules often seem to be looser on Twitter and engagement; flash deals, goofy accounts and randomness all can be appropriate for the right brand.
- Pinterest is indeed about inspiration. Successful accounts generally capture and promote images or content that connects with the audience on some emotional level.
- Instagram is, at its foundation, simply about aesthetics. Brands need to understand what defines the ideal aesthetic for them and create content that appeals to their audience.
Whether you’re the marketing manager at your dealership or an agency handles marketing for you, keep these tips in mind. If your agency treats all social platforms in the same way, maybe it’s time to move on. If you’re a small-business owner and the only one creating content, pick platforms that deliver the most punch and that you can keep up with.
As always, we’re happy to do a social media audit for you. We’ll let you know how we feel about what you’re doing and give you some ideas for improvement.
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency.
She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.