Social media is a tool that many dealerships don’t understand. They might have a slight idea that they should consider using it sometime soon – that is, if the craze doesn’t fizzle. They ask themselves: How long will this Facebook thing last?
I often wonder – and I am sure it did – if this same conversation took place around the first television ads.
The “thing” with social media, as opposed to traditional media, is that it is more about brand awareness and staying top of (the customer’s) mind. You can consider this as the TOP OF THE FUNNEL. But too often, social media types like me are asked to prove ROI almost immediately. In other words, we are asked to go from ground zero, with no company social engagement, to driving thousands of dollars into the dealership. If that’s what you expect, I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you and ruin any chance you have of gathering leads and selling on social.
But trust me – there’s a huge opportunity here, and I don’t want you to miss it. But social leads must be treated differently than digital leads or website chat-box inquiries. Facebook ads tend to be more top of the funnel – and if you have a decent BDC, you can pair them with a strong calling campaign and convert better. But these leads are not looking for a quote. They mostly want to start a conversation. I’m not saying that they take forever to convert, just that they require a different approach.
So here are some sample word tracks for these leads. See if and how they differ from the ones you’re using now.
I would call this what everyone else calls it – reputation management – but can you truly manage your reputation? Or can you only manage reviews? Reputation management starts at the dealership level – with the way you treat your customers, your core values and business practices. Does every employee know what your dealership stands for and how you want your customers to be treated? I wrote an article on this, and you can read more here (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marketing-todays-auto-dealership-robin-wilson/).
But review management is something that can be handled well or excruciatingly poorly. I have seen dealerships that insist on arguing with customers online – and I cannot begin to tell you what a mistake this is.
Knowing how to answer a review, whether it is a good one or a lousy one, is crucial for many reasons. Let’s look at some of the approaches that work.
- Answer reviews in a timely manner.
- The longer reviews go unanswered, the more people jump on the bandwagon and it turns into a s#!+ storm you can’t reverse.
- The quicker you answer them, the better the chance you have of turning them around, whether it’s for service or sales.
- No personal information. You must keep the conversation as neutral as possible when relaying to them and convey to the public that you’re familiar with the events that led to the review.
- No credit-score conversations – (Don’t say: “If you had a score above 400, we may have been able to help you.”)
- No co-signer dialogue – (“Maybe with a better cosigner than the one you brought we could get you in a vehicle.”)
- No mention of what they can afford – (“Ma’am, you couldn’t even afford the payments on the jalopy you were trading in.”)
- Deflect as much as possible, without appearing to be making excuses.
- “Sir, we work with over 30 different lenders, and helping you find the best interest rate is our mission. However, all lenders make decisions based on risk, the riskier the loan, the higher the interest rate. We help people every day get into a better vehicle, and our lender relationships add great value in finding the lowest interest possible.”
- “Please know that we fought very hard for you with the warranty company. In the end, they have a set of guidelines to determine whether the repair is covered or not. I’m sorry we couldn’t do more.”
Reviews are an opportunity to help, to build the relationship with your customer, and to let them know you DO care and you’re on their side. Know, however, that there will be times when you have a totally unreasonable customer who is determined to throw a virtual grenade at your dealership. Every dealership has these, so don’t panic. Don’t try to delete the review or turn off all reviews. The public reads your reviews to determine whether they want to do business with you. They’re smart enough to see through the crazies, the ones whom you will never make happy.
So what should my social channels look like?
That’s a great question, and there are a ton of potential answers. But what if, for just a second, you thought about what you like as a consumer? What attracts you, and what holds your attention? What Facebook pages do you visit often, and why? These are the questions you need to answer. Why would your customers behave differently than you?
I’m a huge consumer of online advertising. When I’m compelled to take action on a website, I pay attention. What prompted me to respond? What message or image enticed me to click through?
Your social profiles should be relevant to your industry. Don’t misinterpret this statement to mean, “Robin said I should post every car we have on our page.” I did not say that, and I would never say that. A running commercial for what you sell is not enticing in the least. I mean, think about it: do you turn on your TV to watch commercials? NO. No one does. So why would you think that’s what your social media needs to look like?
What happens at your dealership is important – from recall information, to the local charities you support. But how about employee bios? Or videos of the car hauler unloading in a time- lapse video? So much content can happen organically, deliver a consistent message and create engagement with your customers.
It really is social!
I know it’s difficult to consider, but social media is truly SOCIAL. Your customers want to engage with you and learn about you and your product. They want to have a relationship with their dealership, and even though It is work, you want a relationship with them, too.
Won’t they service with you if you are THEIR dealership?
Won’t they refer their friends?
Won’t they buy from you again and again?
Of course they will! But this happens differently than it did just 3 years ago. Will you and your dealership get on board, or be left behind?
We’d love to meet with you about your social media profile. We even offer a free social media audit.
Reach out today!
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.