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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nenni

Facebook Ads or Build Community?

If you attended the recent NADA conference in New Orleans, you witnessed a vibrant automotive community with lots of eager vendors, and even more interested dealers. This year I decided to take in more of the workshops, since the badge upgrade price is nominal, and there was a solid lineup of strong speakers. In watching the presentation by Facebook, and in conversations with leading industry experts on Facebook marketing and advertising, I left NADA with a perplexing question whirling in my mind. It seems that some experts are now advising that building a fan base, and creating social engagement with those fans no longer matters. With the recent changes to Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm resulting in organic posts appearing less frequently in Newsfeeds, for businesses (dealers) the only course of action should be to only publish targeted Promoted Posts.

I agree that the incredible targeting available for Promoted Posts means a dealer can get their message in front of auto intenders, whether they are fans or not. And the goal should be for those posts to channel some traffic to the dealers’ websites. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to begin advising dealers that building online social one-on-one relationships should be completely abandoned. I still feel there is huge value in gaining true fans, and being in a position to give and help them with their automotive needs (and I’m not necessarily referring to spending money with the dealership). In addition, part of the beauty of the Promoted Posts is that you can test how well your posts are performing organically, before you spend any money boosting the post. Facebook wants great content, so they give you a built in qualifier to make sure only the very best posts are promoted.

I truly feel (and have witnessed) that dealers can effectively build strong social networks online. Don’t you think most car buyers or car owners would value knowing someone “in the business”? I know my non-industry friends value it, and they hit me up regularly about car-buying, or car-repair questions. They trust me to give them good advice on one of the biggest ticket items they own. I truly feel dealers are in a great position to build those types of relationships with their local community, and then be the dealer of choice when money is to be spent. No targeted ad in the world can replace that level of trust. And remember, the same content that a dealer will create that will help fuel their social efforts, is the exact same content they will also repurpose for newsletters, websites, fixed ops pages, you get the picture. As I’ve written before, a solid content strategy that they can build social relationships on will serve them well in many other digital ways.

In life, there are rare cases where are extremes are ever the right answer. In most cases, balance is the right prescription. Dealers should seek to balance good, solid organic Facebook posts that truly speak to the personality of the dealership, balanced with a sprinkling of calls to action from sales or fixed operations.

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