With a reported 141.2 million Facebook users in the U.S. and over 69 percent of businesses currently active on social media sites like Twitter and YouTube, dealerships are in heavy competition for the public’s attention. Successful social media marketing combines fundamental advertising principles with classic relationship building techniques. To create a social media strategy that’s both engaging and profitable, dealers must understand the following five factors for success:
A successful social media presence should reflect the dealership’s showroom and website. Social media avatars, backgrounds, messaging, images, contact info, and overall persona should be consistent with the dealership’s brand. Brand consistency increases top of mind awareness and builds consumer trust. An attractive and reliable brand engenders loyal followers, setting the stage for new and repeat customers.
In small towns, the businesses that thrive are the ones that everyone in the community enjoys doing business with. Successful networking, online or otherwise, depends on authentic interactions. Social network sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are ways to reach out to other businesses within your community. By subscribing, commenting, re-tweeting, sharing, liking, and following, your dealership is interacting with the community in a sort of online chamber of commerce.
One of the biggest mistakes that dealers make is talking at their customers rather than engaging them. A one-way conversation is a fast way to drive customers away. Just as in small towns, social media participants prefer to “gather at the coffee shop” and join in on the conversation. Share information on your social networks that’s relevant, interesting, and adds value to your community. Monthly giveaways, photo sharing contests and other interactive promotions are great ways to attract new followers and initiating discussions on local topics, entertaining YouTube videos and celebrity news are good ways to activate your existing followers.
First, integrating dealer chat on Facebook is an excellent way to seamlessly transition casual conversation into business interactions without being too forward. Providing direct access to your sales team should the need arise is typically perceived in context as helpful. Many dealers offer chat on their website, but some neglect to include it on their social media pages. Photo drop-ins with personalized photos from chat provider, Contact At Once! is proven to result in the highest number of online conversions.
Second, consider offering social media followers special, email-only content in the form of exclusive coupons and personalized video messages in return their email address. Many dealers have already discovered the power of customized video emails. Enhancing the social media experience with member-only video messages can be great for business. Video emails contain custom branded backgrounds, live links, and chat invitations for instant connection and can be used to announce secret sales events, new model rollouts and rebate offers.
Content that counts
Increasing website traffic is key to generating more online leads for your dealership. With its recent algorithm update (termed Panda) Google has made it clear that social media engagement and content freshness are two important factors in search engine rankings. Now more than ever, there is a direct link between content posting, social media interaction and organic traffic. Social media engagement impacts local search listings, and the fresher the content, the better the chance your dealership website has at attracting more visitors.
The debate rages on for some dealers as to whether or not social media can be used to increase online traffic and harvest sales. I’ll contend that if done in accordance with the factors outlined above, the answer to that question is: yes!
Rachel Haro is a native San Francisco Bay area resident and founding partner at Mouthful Social Media. Rachel has spent the last 10 years helping dealerships. Blending the conventional principles of marketing with down-to-earth networking practices, she and Mouthful Social Media produce dynamic and interactive online campaigns that produce leads. Rachel will be speaking at Jim Ziegler’s upcoming Internet Battle Plan XI taking place on November 8th-9th at the Revel Resort & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. To contact Rachel about social media services or custom video email templates, email [email protected].0