By Susan Givens, Publisher of AutoSuccess Magazine
For some, that phrase conjures up an exciting way to connect with customers that previous generations of car dealers couldn’t have dreamed of. For others, it sounds like a dreaded burden — yet another marketing avenue that requires attention to stay up with the competition and may or may not pan out for increased sales.
Like it or loathe it, you can’t ignore it.
So, if it’s inevitable, why not embrace it and see what it has to offer? Much like boarding a boat pulling out from the dock, however, you need to get in or stay out; one foot on the boat and the other on the dock is not a position for success.
• Be Relevant
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. The vast majority of your potential customers are on social media to relax, catch up with friends and see what’s going on in the world. If you’ve gotten them to follow you, how long do you think that will last if their feed is bombarded by an entry for every car you have on your lot?
If they’re actively shopping for a vehicle, they can go to your Website, call you or visit your dealership to look for a specific make or model. Your goal with social media is not to sell a particular vehicle; it’s to make the shopper think of your dealership when they’re ready. If you get a special vehicle that is interesting in its own right — the first vehicle in the new model year, some one-of-a-kind classic, etc. — by all means, post something about it. If it’s just part of your standard inventory, though, think twice.
People love stories; that kind of engagement is what brings them in for a closer look. Have an employee celebrating an anniversary? Ask them for one of their favorite workplace stories. Fine a customer who wants to share something — parents buying a child their first car, for instance — and do a little interview (with their permission). People like to be entertained, which is why they’re on social media in the first place. Entertain them. Be memorable for the right reasons, and they’ll remember you when it’s time to buy a vehicle.
• Post Often, But Not Too Often
If a little is good, then a lot is better, right? Wrong.
Flooding someone’s social media feed, even if your posts are interesting, isn’t a good idea. You run the risk of getting the eye-roll, followed by the “unfollow.”
Be consistent in your posting — go ahead and schedule it, in fact — but make it a schedule that you can keep up with. Don’t be “streaky” with it, with no posts for three weeks and 12 posts the week after. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Post accordingly.
• Be True to Yourself (and Your Business)
Everyone loves cat videos, so the saying goes, but what does that have to do with your dealership? Not every post has to be about your dealership, but every post on social media should be relevant to what you are selling. Is there a recall? Post something about it. Is the season changing? Post tips on getting your car ready for the weather. Is there a local car-related event going on? Make a comment about it. People won’t follow you because of that “dogs afraid to go down stairs” video you reposted from some other place. They might follow you — and stay followers — if you add to their social media experience is a way that makes sense and that only you can provide.
• Be Social Yourself
Would you allow one of your salespeople to sell automobiles if they themselves had never been in a vehicle? When you’re deciding on a social media strategy, or just wondering what all the fuss is about, the answer is to get on a social media platform yourself to understand it. What are you interested in? What connects with you? Why do you follow (or unfollow) a person or business? Once you get involved, it’s not that difficult to see how things function, and to learn what works and what doesn’t. You’re a social animal; join in and see what’s going on.