While working on this post and how to help dealers really maximize their social media in 2017, I looked at a number of trends and emerging opportunities. I made a list of how “to do” social media effectively.
At some point, tired of reading reports and articles, I popped over to check out my own Facebook page where I finally found the gold I’d been looking for all this time. On my feed, three friends and my wife’s great aunt in Michigan had shared a video from a car dealership in White Bear, Minnesota.
If you didn’t catch it, the video shows hilarious outtakes from making a commercial for their dealership where their mascot can’t stay upright on the ice at a hockey rink. To date, it has well over 2 million views and garnered a ton of news coverage, including CNET, Adweek and even the UK’s Daily Mail.
While having something go viral like this doesn’t happen every day and the vast majority of viewers aren’t even from Minnesota, it goes to show what this dealership is getting right.
They’re being social, not just doing social media as a means of marketing and selling.
While they paid good money to shoot a commercial that features their inventory and latest deals, they understood the value of sharing relevant, but not necessarily sales content. They realized that social media is a channel where you don’t always showcase your perfect commercial. It’s where you connect with your friends and community and say, “Hey, this is hilarious/interesting/educational/worth your time. Check it out.” That’s being social.
So, that’s the first thing dealers need to get right – be social. Be relevant, but relatable and friendly.
If you’re involved with your local community, such as donating to charities or sponsoring a Little League team, post about it. Car reviews and other news related to your business are also great. But, nobody wants to see a photo of that epic burrito you had for lunch. Stick to being a car dealer, not a food critic.
Let’s take a look at a few more things you can do:
- Carve out time and put effort into social media. Just because you have a Facebook page or Twitter feed doesn’t mean anyone’s paying attention. Designate a lead or create a team that will be responsible. Give them dedicated time each day to browse, to see what’s going on in the industry and to be social with your followers.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with a little money. Social media as free advertising is an old myth. Put a little money into advertising on social. Even a small investment of $50-$100 a month on Facebook and Twitter can increase your following and potentially your sales. Plus, you’ll be able to target and find the right type of audiences you want to reach.
- Prove to customers that you’re more than a sales machine. When customers come to your lot, they understand that they’ll be approached by a sales person. Social media channels are not an extension of your lot. Reposting every single vehicle listing directly from your website is a great way to turn people off, especially if you do it all day and every day. Creating a ‘sell, sell, sell’ feed clutter is the fastest way to get prospective customers to say bye, bye, bye.
- Respond even when you don’t want to. Angry customers, even if they’re misinformed or in the wrong, wield a lot of power these days. They’ll post a review on Yelp or Google, address you directly on Twitter or post to your Facebook page. If you ignore them, it may be seen as you not caring and as an admission of guilt. The best approach is to quickly acknowledge them (even after hours) and attempt to move the conversation offline. Do not engage in a war of words or delete their comment. Simply ask them to call you or send their contact information so that you can resolve things for them. Take the high road, always.
- Try something new. Posting consistent, relevant Facebook content that’s relatable and not overly salesy is a good start. But, in my research, I did find a few things for you to try. Start up a YouTube channel – go from static photos to dynamic inventory videos and even a test drive ride along. Stream live on Facebook, share it on Google+ and get a shorter clip posted on Instagram. Yes, give Instagram a whirl and don’t forget those hashtags! And don’t be scared of videos. There are a plethora of apps and tools to make great videos even from your smartphone.
While getting social content to go viral is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle, there are a number of things you can do to generate real results. Simply making time, being real and getting to know your followers will go a long way in creating affinity for your dealership. And when people like and trust you, they’ll also buy from you. If you respect and foster that dynamic, 2017 is going to be your year to shine.