Six Ways to Leverage Social Media to Benefit Your Auto Dealership
Marcus Lemonis — entrepreneur and the host of The Profit on CNBC — started off the first episode by writing out a $200,000 check to help out two brothers who run Car Cash, a family-business that buys and sells cars, based out of Manhattan. Jon CaraManica of The New York Times notes how Marcus rescues small businesses Of course, it’s a successful turnaround story and Marcus, along with the two brothers, stand to gain a profit windfall. Now, not every automobile dealership will get Marcus’s attention and most other small businesses are required to learn lessons and run on their own. Thankfully, it’s not so hard if you only look around for lessons and tap into the powerful media that the internet is. Start with a website, gain thought leadership with content marketing, and build profitable relationships using social media.
1. Forget Marketing. Focus on People
The social web is huge and with billions (collectively, across networks) lounging, sharing, commenting, and talking on social, it’s imperative that you find your gold there. It’s not easy, though. Marketing is no longer about advertisements, copy, and just “numbers”; it’s about people. The longer it takes for a business to understand this, the more futile social marketing (and practically all marketing efforts) will turn out to be. Social media works if you let it work for you. You have the mindset change and the strategic deployment to take care of. In fact, you could use social media to your advantage and make your automobile dealership nudge into your customers’ mindshare.
2. Build Your Social Presence Strategically
Your social presence won’t do you justice until you have a website that works in tandem with your growing stronghold on the social web. Social media by itself, however, requires you to maintain a presence that’s meaningful. It’s called strategic presence for the sake of sounding business-like, but what it means is you’ll really have to push through the noise to get heard.
As an automobile dealership, you are looking to achieve a couple of things:
- Establish yourself as an expert on cars (new or used). So, you’d share all things automobile giving your fans and follows plenty of dripping insights on automobiles, news, information, and tips.
- Leverage the power of hashtags and get into conversations. You could keep it general, local, national or global depending on your business. Here are a few hashtags you could start with: #auto, #motortrade, #dealers, #automotive.
- These conversations on social media (including your reach on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn) will have an amplification effect. You’ll need that to get heard, seen, and for your customers to get to know you.
- If you are a local dealer, you’ll be able to gain more traction and engagement out of your social accounts.
- Conversations will lead to familiarity. This in turn breeds trust making it easy for your customers to do business with you.
- Use Twitter for customer support.
3. Follow and Follow Some More
You could be a local auto dealership or a growing franchise with multiple locations nationally. Either way, you could use the search functions on social networks and strategically find car users. Simple mentions, such as “I hate my old car” or “My car broke down” to “I am looking for a new car” or “This new [Car Name]is tempting the heck out of me. Can I replace my good ol’ Betty?” are opportunities for you to strike conversations that will all lead to the top of your sales funnel through social media.
Follow these users. Maintain those conversations. Think of these mentions and conversations as the new-age lead generation. The more you interact with these random users on social, the more people you are lining up at the top of your social sales funnel. It might not be as obvious as other methods of marketing, but if you can cut through the clutter it can be very effective.
4. Use the right tools
Use a tool like Nimble CRM to track, maintain, and stay on top of these conversations that are likely to lead to sales. Nimble actually goads you to get in touch with prospects, track any deals that come off social media networks, and help you stay organized. You can actually have multiple tools at your disposal each of which is meant to do its “thing”. For instance, use HootSuite or Buffer for Business as your social updates and general social media management tools. Nimble CRM or your regular CRM solution aided with social plugins can help you with tracking conversations that have a likely of leading to sales.
5. Hire Social
The days of looking to hire traditionally, newspapers, and even online job boards are slowly fading into oblivion. It’s the social era and everything from conversation on cats to looking for bright candidates happens on social networks. If you are looking to build a great team, try going the social route. It’s pure gold. Forget resumes and traditional applications. Tap into Facebook’s Open Graph and have candidates come in through social networks (it gives your brand and your job listings a viral push). Use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for sharing your job postings and take the “We’ll check your social profiles out” approach before finalizing candidates for jobs. Once you get past the resumes, you’ll know tons about every job applicant. It’s time for social recruiting. Go at it. Don’t look back.
6. Look for Social ROI. Look Hard
As an auto dealership, it could be hard for you to draw a straight line between social media management and ROI. Yet, it’s possible and plenty of businesses gain from social media today. It’s the new kind of marketing where you put value first and gain from engagement and traction later. It’s the kind of marketing where you’d stop relying on pitching and depend on relationships, social proof, and trust. How are you using social media for your benefit? What exactly do you do on social media? Is social working out for you? What are your most preferred networks? Tell us about it. We look forward to hear from you.
Frank Pipolo is president of FP Internet Marketing a certified internet marketing consultant, professional marketing advisor to law firms, legal marketers, administrators and lawyers, and writer for Vanguard Attorneys, a Tampa Florida law firm that has specialized florida motorcycle accident attorneys. He has more than 20 years’ experience partnering with clients to build their business through development and implementation of track-proven internet marketing strategies. Follow him on Google+.