Social media usage in the U.S. continues to grow at an impressive clip. With more than 1 out of every 8 online minutes being spent on Facebook, dealers must learn ways they can take advantage of these eyeballs, and build a strong online community. While some dealers may be stuck on the idea that “I’ve never heard of someone selling a car on Facebook!” other dealers are instead immersing in this new space and learning ways they can take advantage. One of the biggest digital marketing challenges for dealers, is figuring out “how to do social”. Dealers, like other businesses, initially treat their social channels the same as their other advertising channels. They may want to post all of their inventory, their specials, their sales, and their offers. Trust me, this type of strategy is completely ineffective, and here is why. When I scan the Facebook pages for dealers who are simply posting sales-related content, I see very low PTAT (People Talking About This). PTAT is a rolling 7-day average of your Facebook Likes, Comments, and Shares. The Facebook algorithm that decides if your posts will be seen by your social network ranks your posts based on PTAT. Since Facebook doesn’t see anyone engaging on your sales-related posts, your Facebook feeds never make it into the top of your fans’ Newsfeeds. Worst-case scenario is that your network sees some of your posts, regrets ever becoming a Fan of your page, and opts out. Once that happens chances are very low they will ever re-Like your page, since people don’t want to be sold on Facebook.
To be effective on social media, solid, persuasive, and informative content is the way to go. Your content must feel personal, helpful, emotional, and most importantly it must be real. Don’t be afraid to share your values, your opinions (not religious or political!) and your philanthropic work in the community. Post some actual photos and videos of your dealership in action, perhaps helping in the community or sponsoring a local kids sports team. In general, photos and videos will not get a lot of comments, but if done well they will get a lot of Likes. I have seen dealers do well with comments on photos when they show a humorous photo, and ask the audience the “caption the photo”. Alternatively, Status Updates (posts with no photos or videos) tend to get more comments, again depending on how well they are done. A good technique is to pose a compelling fill-in-the-blank question as a Status post. I would advise you to keep these status updates automotive-related, taking advantage of your fans that are brand enthusiasts, dialing into your great experience with cars and trucks. Most of all, keep Status updates short and to the point. People are increasingly consuming Facebook on a mobile device, so think “less is more”. Whenever I’m asked to click the “more” link to read the rest of the post, I usually get a little irritated and most often choose not to read the post.
To determine what types of content might work, begin by asking yourself, why would it be interesting to meet someone from your dealership at a backyard picnic? What automotive-related topics might interest the other guests at the picnic? We sometimes take for granted that most people don’t know a lot about cars, how to take care of them, how to shop a lease, how to winterize a vehicle, the list goes on. Help the people that are in, and out of your online network with the great, helpful automotive content that is rolling around in your head.
I hope I’ve established that in order to be successful on social, you must be successful in generating a regular stream of high quality, compelling and relevant content. And remember, if you did a great job on content last month…that was last month. Next month you will need to rinse and repeat, and find an entire new crop of solid, quality content. You must establish a content strategy, that outlines what types of content you want to collect, who will collect it, and how often you will post. You should write these plans out, starting with getting an understanding of the “personality” of the dealership and what type of posts you want to include. Write it out, post it regularly, and you’ll find yourself building a nice community of followers, and searchers that find you interesting and friendly, and will want to buy their next car from you!