Best PracticesApr 5th, 2018

How to Use Social Media Channels to Generate More Leads


For many years, dealers have been told that social media channels can’t be used like other marketing channels. We’ve heard that social media is best for “soft marketing” objectives, such as raising brand awareness and increasing likeability, and that social shouldn’t be used for selling.

Times have changed.

Thanks to big data, predictive analytics, and automated marketing, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have developed into channels that are incredibly effective at generating leads from in-market car shoppers.

Social lead generation does require the right marketing strategy, however.

Posting generic promotional messages on your Facebook page or in ads won’t cut it. Consumers don’t respond to messages that are irrelevant to them, regardless of where those messages appear.

Why Facebook and Instagram?

Quite simply, because that’s where your customers spend their time:

  • Nearly 158 million adults in the U.S. over the age of 25 use Facebook (Statista).
  • There are more than 78 million Instagram users in the U.S. (Statista).
  • Americans spend an average of four hours daily on mobile devices (emarketer).
  • One in five mobile minutes is spent on Facebook and Instagram (Facebook).
  • 71% of car shoppers use mobile devices during the vehicle-purchase process (Facebook IQ/Ipsos MediaCT study).

Instagram is important because it’s more popular than Facebook among younger adults. Also, Facebook owns Instagram, and collects an enormous amount of data from users on both platforms. This data can be leveraged to match the customers in your DMS with Facebook and Instagram users, create lookalike audiences, identify in-market car shoppers, and keep in touch with your current customers. Let’s focus on identifying in-market car shoppers, defined as one to six months away from purchasing a vehicle. Thanks to Facebook’s integration with Polk data and the way it tracks user behavior, you can easily identify in-market shoppers within a defined radius of your dealership.

Best ads to reach in-market shoppers

Once you identify your audience, Facebook offers a number of ways to reach it. Depending on what your goal is, you may want to try a variety of ads and formats to see which deliver the best results.

Lead ads

These ads are ideal for collecting sign-ups for test drives, price estimates, and trade-in value quotes. Use lead ads to convert shoppers within three months of buying. When a mobile user clicks on a lead ad, the form opens pre-populated with their information, making it easy for a car shopper to submit it, and greatly increases the volume of mobile leads.

Dynamic ads

The goal of dynamic ads is to get in-market shoppers to visit VIN-specific inventory pages on your website. These ads feature your dealership name, a relevant message, dynamic images, and links to your VDPs. Also use dynamic ads to re-target people who have viewed specific vehicles on your website.

Carousel link ads

Carousel ads allow you to showcase up to 10 images, headlines, links, and calls to action in a single ad. Using carousel link ads lowers your cost per conversion 30% to 50%, compared to single-image link ads. Link ads are used to drive shoppers to a specific section of your website, such as a VDP, “get a quote” page, customer testimonials page, or service specials page.

Make your dealership stand out

What makes a person click on a post in their Facebook newsfeed? Messages should be relevant and personal. Use a casual, easy tone, like you’re talking to a friend. Additionally, all Facebook ads need to be designed for the mobile consumer. That means they should feature tight copy, bold images, and eye-catching headlines, and be designed for “sound off.” Use an authoritative editorial voice and make strong calls to action, so consumers are left with no doubt as to what you want them to do. A great way to increase relevancy is to segment your audience and create ads for each segment. For example, Facebook allows you to segment audiences based on interests, such as art, science, and travel. Try creating messages that appeals to specific interests such as these. The more relevant your ad content is, the higher your response rate will be.

Reach and frequency

Social media campaigns for in-market shoppers can be designed for the entire six-month period of consideration. To increase campaign effectiveness, optimize reach and frequency when targets are four to eight weeks away from purchase.


Ideally your ads will reach 50% to 70% of your target audience at any given time. When your target shoppers are four to eight weeks away from purchase, maximize reach to 70%, as much as possible.


For in-market shoppers more than eight weeks away from purchase, one to two times per week is adequate. Once your target audience is four to eight weeks away from purchase, increase your ad frequency to three to four times per week.

Measuring success

Historically, success on social media has been measured by numbers of likes, shares, and comments. Now, it’s time to think about how Facebook and Instagram can deliver on your real business goals, such as increasing brand awareness, leads, and sales.

Social media campaign effectiveness can be measured in the same way as campaign effectiveness on other channels, such as voice, email, and direct mail. Clicks, conversions, and revenue can all be attributed back to specific campaigns.

Facebook and Instagram are ideal social media channels to generate leads from in-market car shoppers. With the right marketing strategy and platform, your dealership can deliver highly targeted and relevant messages designed to increase brand awareness, customer engagement, foot traffic, and ultimately, sales.

Scot Eisenfelder is CEO of Affinitiv, a leading marketing technology company serving a dozen automotive manufacturers (OEMs) and over 5,500 franchise dealers. Prior to Affinitiv, Eisenfelder held positions as senior VP of strategy at AutoNation and senior VP of product management, strategy, and marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds.

Curated, quality insights?
Content worth the click