While the majority of businesses have (at least I hope) adapted social media into their marketing plan, it seems that automotive dealerships are still not sold on the idea. There seems to be a disconnect between dealers and their strategy. The goal, of course, is to sell cars. If done right, implementing strategies such as Facebook ads can bring buyers to the dealership. And what about the value of relationships?
In an article that appeared in the NY Times entitled “The Gap Between Auto Dealers and Social Media” dealerships lean on the manufacturer’s social media presence. Some use social media to manage consumer comments, post photos of buyers, and encourage customers to post reviews, but that’s where the engagement ends. The article interviewed a manager of a Hyundai Dealership in Huntsville, Tex who said that for $275, he enrolled in a social media marketing program managed by the marketing team at Hyundai’s American headquarters in Southern California. The author then goes on to point out that the dealership’s strategy did not include advertising.
A few things struck me about this strategy. One, you get what you pay for. Secondly, if the social media managers are mass producing content for the same type of dealerships, how much personalization are they really giving it? I mean, come on, they were located in another state! I would say that the GM’s concern over personal relationships is right on target. This can certainly be achieved through social media “networking,” but it’s nearly impossible when the social media manager doesn’t know your company culture, values, employees and specific market area.
Without knowing the specifics, I am fairly confident that this type of social media management was doomed to fail from the beginning. There are people sitting on the other end of the computer, tablet, phone, etc. Who wants information thrown at them? Instead, think about what you would like. For example, if I’m an avid Mercedes fan, a new product or vehicle is exciting to me. I also expect to feel luxurious and sexy. So if a dealership were to throw a champagne and cigar reception for its buyers and leasees to meet and greet the new models, I would promote the heck out of that on social media before, during, and after. An event such as this one, would build relationships and probably sell or lease a car or two to the people who have to have the newest models. Plus, I can bet that the attendees would post lots of photos on their social media.
One strategy that I’ve seen work is using Facebook’s awesome ad options to spread the word out about a vehicle promotion. We did one ad per vehicle that had a special and targeted it to people in the area who had an interest in that specific vehicle or brand. It not only brought people to the dealership, but they sold some cars too.
Bottom line is that most people identify themselves by what type of vehicle they drive. Ford or Chevy? BMW or Mercedes? It’s the type of thing they want to connect with on social media because it’s an expression of who they are. Keep that in mind and you’ll be in the fast lane to lifetime customers.
NYTimes.com, “The Gap Between Auto Dealers and Social Media,” Vindu Goel, 9 April 2015