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What Defines A Successful Automotive Social Media Strategy

brianpasch

Getting Refreshed
Apr 26, 2009
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You are asked to access a car dealer's Social Media efforts and provide feedback on how they compare with their peers and where they can improve.

I'm asked that question often and I would love to hear from members of DealerRefresh on how they would grade a car dealer's social media efforts. Also, do you have a dealership in mind that you would consider a leading example of social media engagement?

There are so many articles on social media being offered online but how to we define success?
 

davidmoon

Sr. Refresher
Nov 23, 2010
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Of course, it depends on their overall goals .. but usually, it comes down to a sales and service bottom line conversion. The proof is not in the number of people who follow you -- it's the results your engagement produces. Still, there is great value in local branding, keeping your brand and services top-of-mind, pushing content like video and opening a channel for improved customer service and buying-experience or service reviews. Facebook gives you a lot of opportunities to promote events, promote exclusive service deals, run contests, list inventory, encourage test drives and connect with otherwise orphaned customers.

A great effort starts in the dealership with the customer. Build on the value of special deals, referral programs and contests by promoting your social URLS like you would your Website. If you're creative, you can develop rotating incentive programs for growing a following through targeted referrals from your customer base. You can also build a targeted audience using Facebook and Google ads ... A car consumer's Facebook wall is far more visible than your Website.

There are plenty of tools that allow you to track social activity. Making certain that you keep up with sources is important. Then apply activity with sources and sales to find out what your effort is worth. The two primary keys to a good social marketing plan is a consistent level of engagement and creativity. Along with building a targeted following ... of course.

There are many dealers here who have great social media activity that seems to be driving traffic to their dealerships.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
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Because your high school buddy found you on FB after 6 address changes and 15 years past... that MUST mean that you can reach the other 3 billion people on FB! Now where did I put that special super-secret FB un-locker key???.

Answer this riddle: If a car shopper doesn't use Social Media to buy a home, a car, find an electrician, a landscaper, a jeweler, or anything related to commerce... Then why does Social Media get so much "face time"?
 
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brianpasch

Getting Refreshed
Apr 26, 2009
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Joe
That is why I am asking the question. How do you measure if the investment is working? Is there a checklist of best practices that would measure a successful Social Media strategy?
 

davidmoon

Sr. Refresher
Nov 23, 2010
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SM is like any advertising medium. Of course you have to draw them in. You could have a digital billboard on Times Square ... if the message isn't appealing or targeted, your response rate is reflected in the results. Like all ad media and channels, at the end of the day, it's all about conversion. That's the only item of the checklist. Brand, loyality, customer service all lead to sales results. How many people followed ... how many fair prospects set appointments ... test drove and purchased.

The number one reason that people follow businesses through social media is discounts and special offers.
 

joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
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Joe
That is why I am asking the question. How do you measure if the investment is working? Is there a checklist of best practices that would measure a successful Social Media strategy?
BP,

You can follow best practices, but you can't measure... zero

Go ahead, corner ANY FB/Social Media guru and ask them to show ROI. Each and every time the reply is the same. There is silence, followed by a clearing of the throat, 3-5 seconds of mumbling before they jump back on their Social Media unicorn and talk about some SM stats like how older adults is the fastest growing category (or some other bullsh*t stat) and why I'm not getting it.

Not all businesses are treated equal by the FB audience. I friend'd my Realtor, then dumped her like a stone after yet another home buyers tip came thru. Compare that to the Electric Bike Retailer that I follow. Fresh products and ideas in a very unique business keep my interest piqued.

What's that leave for us?
IMO, FB (as an ad medium) has all the hallmarks of a branding campaign, rather like a billboard on the highway, where no sales can be directly connected to it, but, we all know its there.

Problem: FB is NOT THE HIGHWAY. It's not radio, not direct mail, not TV, these are "broadcast media" outlets. HIPPOs often want to play in Social Media and think broadcast thoughts when they commit to FB.


FB has no equal, but show me anyone that friends an Automobile Dealer and I'll show you a lonely fella.
 
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brianpasch

Getting Refreshed
Apr 26, 2009
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Joe

Facebook may very well be a billboard the talks to itself (in worst cases) and interacts with consumers (in best cases).
You suggest that consumers really don't want to chat with their dealers and that begs the question why are some dealers claiming otherwise?

Is Ford's success with social media more related with their OEM status (original creator) and not something that is inherited to their dealers?

That's why I'm trying to understand what is working so that we can recognize dealers that have unlocked some elements of success.
 

Ryan Thompson

Sr. Refresher
Apr 21, 2010
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I'm going to be featuring this dealer on my blog. These guys run a detailing special every week and get some great love from their community.

I live in Toronto and they are located in New Jersey. I make sure to watch their weekly videos as they crack me up, they are always throwing some humour in there.

mb motorsports | Facebook
 

davidmoon

Sr. Refresher
Nov 23, 2010
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First, you don’t trust anyone who tells you they are a social marketing guru or expert – they are few and far between. A matter of fact, they don't exist. Second, social media IS like other media outlets. It is measurable like any other source of traffic. You just have to take the few seconds to ask, “Where did you hear about us?†You can set up an email address like, [email protected] or [email protected], or use the many lead-generating forms and apps that are available off-the-shelf for sourcing. It’s just like a Website.

I will agree that it isn’t an easily mined media, and conventions AND best practices vary from vertical to vertical. Is it magical? Absolutely not! It’s only one channel that integrates into an online and offline marketing strategy. It’s not a standalone marketing solution or something to put all you equity, eggs or budget into.

Not all business is treated equal, but the numbers and traffic are there – and advertising and fan page activity will continue to boom and be in the peripheral (like all other media), and wind up on newsfeeds in front of customers and prospects. Culturally, social media is becoming like the morning newspaper … but available all day. Like when people used to read newspapers, you are primarily there for the news, weather and the funnies … with a healthy mixture of ads that do influence buying choices.

I’ve never judged an audience based on my personal online habits or preferences. I know that I’m not the average Internet or social media user. I’d say I’m a moderate social media user at best … If your Electric bike retailer had a message on your FB wall with a deal that was fall-out-of-your-office-chair outstanding, wouldn’t you give a call? Why wouldn’t consumers be the same way with cars? Or see an oil change or any service special on the way out the door to work? Maybe it’s a free car wash, which gets customers back in the dealership. Yes, there is a lot of branding and top-of-mind value to SM, but you can also effectively sell; especially a disposable status symbol like a vehicle.

Case in point, I was looking at your profile earlier (before this last message), went to your site and discovered Joe's Old Cars - Classic, Antique, Vintage Vehicles. Loved it! 1940’s anything is on my bucket list for the near future (Fair prospect here.) I looked at every listing – check your Web stats. I bookmarked it … But, honestly, if you had a Facebook fan page … I’d prefer to follow you there. And, I’d be more prone to see updates in inventory (If posted) on FB than to revisit a site that will be lost in my endless void of bookmarks.
 

davidmoon

Sr. Refresher
Nov 23, 2010
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MB Motorsports is a good example of SM engagement -- I think I added them a few weeks back. They are building a personal dealer loyalty base, which will convert into service and sales.