Digital channels are now the primary information-gathering source during the consideration phase for 60% of car buyers, according to McKinsey.com.
Consumers are spending a lot of time online researching their next car or truck purchase, and social media is becoming a much bigger part of that equation. A recent Nielsen report found that one in three online users prefers to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone.
Clearly, a social media strategy is a valuable marketing tool to reach current and prospective customers, but how exactly can your dealership use social media to lasso prospective customers throughout the ownership life cycle? Here are four ways.
1. Nurture customers, pre- and post-sale
Buying a car is a big purchase, and it helps if your customers understand what to expect from your store and staff before they visit. The tone and content of your social posts should convey the personality of your dealership and employees. Do you want to be considered the experts? Casual, professional, fun, or authoritative?
Presale nurturing posts may include:
- Pictures of happy buyers in their new cars
- Examples of post-sale services, such as new owner clinics
- Dealership employee interviews and spotlights
- Customer reviews that reinforce a trustworthy, positive dealership experience
Think about what you offer in terms of after-sale benefits—the experts and resources on staff who can make the shopping experience more enjoyable—and highlight them. These activities will do much to build trust and help the shopper get to know your dealership before stepping onto your lot.
2. Make it personal, make it visual
Social media is a personal space where consumers interact in a more casual manner and expect to connect with others, not necessarily see advertisements or inventory specials. Dealers who use a personal style are more likely to retain their customers, give users new ways to use their services or products, and help solve problems as they arise.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. Instead of posting lists of your inventory and offers, share photos. Some of the more successful social posts are photos of staff and of customers who have just purchased a vehicle. Share an image of that new special-edition or custom vehicle on your lot.
Posts and tweets with images typically have the most engagement, and are seen by more potential customers. Tweets with images are much more likely to be retweeted than text-only messages—a Buffer study showed the use of images can increase dealer retweets by up to 150%.
3. Be relevant
Start by understanding your audience: Are you targeting new car buyers, new lease customers, or owners who may need service? Your resulting blog posts, shared videos and photos, and links to local information should be helpful and relevant to them.
Leading your social audience to helpful, valuable information will help establish your expertise and build your brand. Use your original content to drive traffic back to your website, where you can capture leads and eventually drive sales.
Original, personable content ideas include:
- Pull back the curtain on life in the dealership. Highlight your people and daily activities, and showcase who you are and what you do in a unique way that consumers can relate to.
- Encourage your employees to use their individual social media profiles to discuss products, events, and life at the dealership.
- Share news about local community events and details of your participation in local charities and schools.
- Address service FAQs, such as, “What’s that [sound/puddle/feeling/etc.], and is it something to have checked out?
4. Be genuine and communicative
Don’t forget to manage your online reputation. For example, Facebook features a Reviews tab that should be monitored and responded to on a regular basis. Reviews, comments, and your posts all show potential customers that your dealership is trustworthy, and they help move them along the consumer journey.
One of the easiest ways to reach—and satisfy—your customers is to simply reply to them and address their questions or comments. Appoint a dedicated staff member to respond to customer comments, questions, and concerns. It takes time, but is well worth it when consumers understand there is an actual human who cares talking with them.
Although social media requires a solid amount of effort, time, and commitment, it’s not as complicated as you might think. These four tips will help equip you to use social media in a way that resonates with current—and potential—customers.
Alicia Aueris a social marketing specialist with CDK. She helps CDK dealers design and implement social strategies that drive customer engagement and brand presence. She believes there is always a creative solution to reach more in-market car shoppers using all digital mediums. She blogs for 15 dealerships in the CDK Power Social program, and credits her love of cars to her dad, who bought a new car every couple of years until his retirement from a Ford dealership at age 76.
Latest posts by Alicia Auer
- 3 Steps to Improve Your Customer Reviews - January 12, 2017
- 4 Ways Social Media Connects With Customers During Their Buying Journey - July 7, 2016