This is one of many articles you are likely to see about the importance of social media in 2011. Many dealers are asking: “Why use social media?” and “How do I use social media effectively?” These are two valid questions that need to be addressed.
First and foremost, why should car dealers use social media? Quite simply, because it’s an instant communication platform that allows your business to, quickly and efficiently, publish a message to a large audience. When comparing social media platforms to traditional marketing channels (direct mail, TV advertising, billboards, and radio), social marketing wins nine times out of ten, because it can replace and supplement these traditional channels to gain a more effective reach for brand messaging. In addition, the performance of social media initiatives can be more quickly measured and optimized than offline channels. Plus, social media marketing can save you money!
In response to the second question (How do I use social media effectively?), there is no right answer or definitive science for conjuring up a full-proof social media strategy. Developing an effective plan for your dealership will require that you understand your target market. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and define the types of content that would be valuable and engaging for you. Keep in mind, social media should be utilized to brand your business—keep your sales pitch out of it! Once you have built trust in your brand, there will be plenty of opportunities to get buyers on your lot. Here are four actionable items you can implement today to get more customers to rally around your brand.
1. Ask engaging questions.
One great way to get your audience engaged is by asking questions and creating polls on relevant topics. It’s a fun and simple way to bring people to your social community. For example, a Ford Dealership may ask, “What year was the best Ford Mustang made: 1965, 1966, 1967, or 1969?”
Here are two great tools you can use for questions and polls:
Facebook Questions (www.facebook.com/questions)
2. Use entertaining media.
Viral videos can be great content to share with and entertain your audience. Your parent brands may have already developed some media. For example, Toyota released a music video titled “Swagger Wagon” that showcases the Sienna minivan. This type of viral material is memorable and keeps your dealership top-of-mind.
3. Implement social good.
Building your community around a positive cause is useful in shaping your brand. Consumers want to see the ethical fibers of your business. This type of engagement does require a commitment from your dealership to be effective. For example, you may choose to donate one dollar to “Japan Relief Efforts” for every new fan you gain on Facebook. People see this type of commitment and feel compelled to participate. This will ultimately bring more consumers to your doorstep for future brand messaging and promotions.
1) Provide local resources.
Most dealerships are connected to their surroundings. With social media, dealers can become local experts by simply posting informational content on area events and outdoor activities. For example, a local Subaru dealership may post snow reports for nearby ski resorts. This is relevant to the local market and relates back to the Subaru product because many Subaru owners love winter sports.
Daimen Boyd is the general sales manager for automotive marketing at netbiz.com. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/cargigi.netbiz.
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