If you were to look at a car dealership’s Facebook page right now, what would you expect to see; maybe an image of customers with their new vehicle? Or even pictures of staff smiling? You would be partly correct in assuming this. Having looked through many dealerships Facebook pages, it is clear to me despite the stereotypes, many are starting to catch up or are being relatively effective with the great opportunity social channels like Facebook present them.
However, there is always room for improvement when it comes to engaging online. Being 2017, it is time all dealerships really maximise their effectiveness on Facebook, as this will benefit them in terms of branding, building customer relations and ultimately their main goal- selling cars.
The Social Misunderstanding
From the viewpoint of a car dealership, the difficulty with Facebook is it is very much a "social" channel. This means when people go onto their Facebook news feed, what they want to see is updates from their friends, exciting entertainment content or informative news updates. Therefore, that picture of your customer with their new vehicle serves no real purpose to those following you via Facebook. Granted, it can provide a positive image of the brand, but every car dealership does this so it doesn’t really have any originality and therefore the desired effect unfortunately.
As a “social media specialist”, I hate seeing this golden opportunity for dealerships to really be effective go to waste, so let’s focus on the positives and how you can approach Facebook to move your social page the next level.
Social Media Marketing 2017- How you should approach it?
There seems to be a common misunderstanding when it comes to what is effective with social media. If you were to look at a dealership with 1000 page likes and another with 100, you'd assume the dealership with 1000 is being more effective on Facebook, right? Wrong.
Engagement is what you should be aiming for, not follower numbers. For example, if someone passes your dealership, sees the dealership name and a car they like but then keep walking, never to come back, this stands no real value to the dealership at all. This is the equivalent of having a large unengaged following on Facebook. If they aren't invested and interested in the content you create, their page like means nothing. Whereas, even with only 100 followers- if you are getting good engagement in terms of likes, shares, comments on your content- this can be valuable. Not following? Let me explain.
This type of engagement is beneficial as it allows you to push your content reach beyond just your follower base. This is because Facebook algorithms work in a way in which the people who are highly engaged with those following you will see content your followers have engaged with. For example, if one of your followers was to like a post about a new car you have in your showroom, those who are highly engaged with that person on Facebook (normally the individual’s best friends) will also see it. This can be especially helpful if they share the same interest in cars as it brings you potential new followers and more importantly people to engage with.
In addition to this, it is a good way of building interest and a rapport with your followers, increasing the likelihood of turning this online engagement into a conversion (i.e them visiting the dealership or even purchasing a car.) Much like a salesperson uses sales techniques to persuade visitors to purchase a vehicle, Facebook provides this opportunity to people who aren't even at your dealership...and for free!
However, getting good engagement isn't always easy. The key behind this is creating high quality content. Having scoured many Facebook pages of car dealerships, the common improvements that could be made in terms of approach are as follows;
1.) Be More Active On Facebook
It is important to create a consistent flow of content, whereby you are actively posting and engaging on a daily basis. Now this will mean you need to hire someone with the required skills but this will help push you ahead of your competitors. Social media is both the now and future of marketing, so it is important to invest in the future and not get left behind, especially as more and more features will be implemented, adding value to your dealership. For example, Facebook have recently launched a new jobs feature in North America which is likely to put huge pressure on the likes of LinkedIn and Glassdoor, especially when implemented globally. Considering Facebook has a bigger population than China, getting active and effective on the platform may not be the worst idea in both the short and long term.
2.) Focussing On What The Consumer Will Want
One of the most crucial aspects of Facebook to understand in order to get your approach right is to focus on what the consumer wants. If you fail to abide by this in your approach, you will struggle to get the kind of engagement that is needed to be truly effective. Within social media, there is a general rule- about 80% of your posts should be about creating engaging consumer focussed content, with the other 20% focussed on promoting business/financial ventures. The reason for this is your followers won’t buy a car every day, so having daily “come down to our dealership” posts will not be an effective way of engaging. The key is to provide them with some exciting content to keep them invested in the dealerships updates. Then you’ll be able to encourage them to visit the dealership by piquing their interest with a rare new car available for viewing at your dealership, for example.
3.) Appealing To The Benefits Of Being Local
Many dealerships have group pages rather than individual dealership pages on Facebook. Whilst this may save time and money, it fails to take advantage of the opportunity to appeal to local people. If that works for you as a brand as your focus is elsewhere then that is fair enough. However, your content updates will be less targeted to local people, meaning for engagement you’re relying on people’s love of the brand rather than interest in local dealership news. It is important to connect with your core customer base and ensure these local people are invested in the dealership if you are looking for conversion through your Facebook page.
Whilst the beauty of Facebook is that it provides you with a free marketing platform, due to changes, the organic reach of content has decreased, meaning investing into boosting content and creating campaigns is the advisable way to be effective on Facebook.
The reasons behind this is it's an attempt on Facebooks behalf to cut down on spam clogging newsfeeds and help build a newsfeed which is more desirable for the "consumer". Unsurprisingly, this means car dealerships will experience less natural engagement, as a large percentage of followers will not even see your content anymore, unless you get the wallet...
Now, you have an understanding of the approach required to fully utilise Facebook and help create meaningful engagement. Read part 2 for more detail regarding how to create content calendar and campaign ideas to back up this approach.