The Importance of Social Media to Dealerships
10th June 2016
On August 28th 2015, Facebook reached an important milestone in its history, one billion users logged on to the site in a single day. Add to this the millions who use Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and the various other channels, then social media is a platform that you simply cannot afford to ignore any more.
While some thought the social media trend may have just been a passing fad 10 years ago, the reality is that it has grown to be quite the opposite, it’s now a lifestyle. Just about every person you do business with at your dealership will use social media (for business and personal use), meaning you can ill afford to be missing out.
While you may run the odd advertising campaign, the reality is that the amount of people you can reach via social media could simply not be obtained by any other source of advertising; in essence, it’s free advertising to the masses.
Here are some of the benefits of utilising social media within your dealership.
One of the biggest problems that any car dealership faces is the reputation that proceeds them. Agree with it or not, the reality is that there is a common perception of the ‘dodgy car dealer’ that you have to overcome, and that some customers will enter your forecourt with their shields well and truly up based on this misconception.
Before visiting your showroom, most customers will search for your dealership on social media (most likely Twitter or Facebook) to get a feel of what your company is like. By cleverly using social media you should be able to reassure them that they have nothing to be sceptical of, and that in reality, you are a professional, customer friendly dealer looking to help them find their ideal car.
To achieve this, your content needs to be right…
Customer interaction (content)
With social media, content is key with regards to how successful you are going to be. Nobody wants their homepage flooded with hard-sell adverts or promotional material, so if you do this, expect your following to dwindle.
Instead, try taking a light-hearted approach to the running of your page. Don’t be afraid to run competitions, post behind-the-scenes snippets and talk about stuff that is likely to bring a smile to people’s faces. By doing this you should keep your customers engaged so that when you do have a particular offer/car you wish to shout about, they are likely to still take notice.
Oh, and you will need to have some well-thought-out photos too…
Be pleasing on the eye
Believe it or not, used car dealerships are a lucky breed of people in that they have something that most companies could only dream of – a product that people are genuinely passionate about.
The good thing about cars is that the majority of your customers are genuinely enthused to see visuals of your stock – just as long as your photos and videos are of good quality. Putting time and thought in to taking good photos and videos of your cars is more than worth your time and effort, not least because you will be able to use them on your website too.
Some dealers also like to post photos of some of their vehicle handovers, therefore encouraging their customers to comment on their experience and interact with them.
Although once again, don’t be tempted to accompany every picture with a hard-sell, sometimes a picture really does speak a thousand words.
Google likes social media
In the never-ending quest to climb the mountain that is Google’s search engine, social media channels are only going to help you due to the fact that social posts rank well in Google’s search engine.
A well-followed Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. will aid you in building a good reputation of your company, while Google will also have more content to return in searches, thus increasing your visibility amongst potential customers.
Schedule your social life
While some of you may be reading this article and can immediately see the benefits of using social media, you may be concerned that you simply do not have enough time to run various accounts while also managing your dealership.
Although it would be great if everyone who read this article went and set up various social media accounts and posted unique content on each one, the reality is that the vast majority of you simply do not have the time to do this.
Thankfully, social media ought not to be time-consuming. If you feel like you only have time to focus on one or two channels right now, we strongly recommend choosing Facebook and Twitter. Not only can you schedule future posts for both these platforms through programs such as Hootsuite, if you are really pressed for time you can also link both accounts so they that they share the same content – an ideal time saver.
DragonDMS users can save even more time as they have the added benefit of being able to tweet a vehicle and the main image from within the system’s stock record. On our Dragon 2000 built websites we are also able to display your social feeds throughout your site, helping to engage your potential customers even more.
While linking social media accounts could be a quick fix, we always recommend posting unique and up-to-date content on as many channels as time allows you.
A word of caution
Before you go running off to start your social media revolution, there are a few things you should consider before your dealership starts using social media.
If one of your staff members is going to be running your accounts, make sure the person you entrust with this role is someone you feel comfortable with representing your company in front of a mass audience. Don’t be tempted to just choose a member of staff who is the handiest with social media and their mobile phone. The last thing you want is someone doing a Gerald Ratner and making an ill-judged joke about your stock. Keep it professional and it will pay off.
Although you shouldn’t be afraid to post content not necessarily associated with the automotive industry from time to time, avoid talking about potentially controversial and divisive topics such as sport and political matters. You don’t want to be losing business over the issue of what football team you support!
People are increasingly using social media to search for products and services, and naturally they are influenced by user comments and reviews that are left on your page – it is the modern ‘word of mouth’. If done correctly, social media is an easy way to advertise your business completely free of charge.
The truth is that it is simply impossible to list all the benefits that social media can have on your dealership, you’ll just have to go and find them all out for yourself!