How to Build a Social Media Strategy That Will Create an Engaged Customer Base

The key to building an interactive social media fan base is a “swarm and herd” strategy that gets visitors engaged, sharing and coming back and eventually finding their way into your dealership.


“Swarm and herd” is a phrase first coined in the book, Nature of Marketing, and the idea, as adopted for social media, is highly relevant. It refers to creating a large Facebook fan base foremost, and then herding those fans to the dealership through very specific Facebook engagement events.


This is a two-part process. The first part of the process is the swarm technique for building a larger Facebook fan base. The second part of the process is fan base engagement using techniques like coupons, games, contests, and other incentives, to herd or draw fans into the dealership.


The swarm and herd strategy creates a sense of fun, community involvement and trust, and as the page continues to capture more fans, the social media page becomes alive with engaging conversations, monthly promotions, special coupons, and local links to create business opportunities for the dealership.


Build Your Swarm


When it comes to social media success, your ability to create and respond to postings and conversations on those sites and providing intriguing content that keeps fans returning to your pages throughout the day so as not to miss items of value to them—is everything.


It’s important to recognize that social media sites are not inventory-marketing tools. Rather, they are a means for engaging customers outside of your business goals. The daily social media postings underpinning this strategy are like the nectar that keeps the swarm buzzing. Your quick response to and development of the conversation keeps people engaged. Once you have their attention, you can market to them in subtle ways. Coupons and service specials aid in herding the local fans straight to your dealership.


Focus Your Herd


It can take up to one year to grow a broad fan base through social media page giveaways and daily postings. After achieving upwards of 3,500 fans, it is time to focus on getting your fans into your dealership. While an impressive Facebook page can provide the dealership with positive branding and a place for customers to engage, social media engagement should drive those fans into the dealership.


Everyone should know by now that traditional advertising on social media channels is completely unacceptable. Facebook has even published guidelines telling dealerships they will be looking for inventory feeds and shutting down any pages that simply post inventory. Social media is social…and the old acronym KISS is applicable here too, with modification, Keep It Social Stupid!


Herding your fans into your dealership is about offering them something fun. Whether your herd driver is a killer deal on service, a deal only for Facebook fans or a local giveaway such as concert tickets, give your fans a reason to come into the dealership.


When you do that, they will come!


We are not talking about key chains for test drives here; we are talking about capturing your local social media activists by being fun and engaging on your site. For example, Apple Chevrolet, a Tinley Park, IL dealership, has close to 4,000 Facebook fans. It often gives away high-value Facebook fan incentives like pairs of tickets for local sporting events. One recent giveaway for Chicago Bears tickets helped Apple Chevrolet capture 85 new Facebook fans directly from their own backyard.


Every one of Apple Chevrolet’s fans has value, but consider especially the value of these new 85 fans. These 85 fans, which evolved from 300 fans created during the first year of the dealership’s swarm phase, are local-market fans. When social media can deliver 85 in-market fans, those results are dramatic!


It is your job to keep fans engaged and interested in your social media page so when they are ready to buy they think of you. Put a swarm and herd Facebook strategy in place and fans will swarm to your page and let you herd them into your dealership.


Readers may contact Rob McClurg at, 815-333-3332, or visit  





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