It’s time for a statistic that you might find hard to believe if you work in a car dealership. In fact, you may find it hard to swallow, because it puts a whole new perspective on the modern car buyer.
A 2015 study by social media and digital entertainment firm, Digital Air Strike, revealed that car shoppers favour social networks over car dealership websites when it comes to choosing which dealership to visit. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said that they ranked internet research on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and review websites as the most helpful medium when selecting a dealership.
This isn’t new, either. In fact, it’s the third consecutive year in a row that social media has pipped the car dealership website to the winner’s podium when it comes to consumer research.
Surprised? Don’t be. Social media is now an intrinsic part of many people’s lives. So embedded are the likes of Twitter and Instagram in modern society that, in the US alone, 76% of Americans who use the internet also use social media.
With that in mind, if you’re operating a car dealership, you need to be leveraging social media properly. If you’re not, there are potentially huge numbers of potential customers you’re missing out on.
But what are they looking for, exactly? What are you supposed to do in order to gain their attention? In this post, we’re going to look at four ways you can leverage social media to draw in more customers. We’ll assume that you have set up the three most important: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
- Integrate your social channels with your automotive solution
OneDealer is a fantastic example of an automotive solution that enables dealerships to connect the inner workings of their business with the outside world. It enables you to manage all of your marketing activity from one application, across social channels.
One of the most powerful aspects of social media is its ability to give consumers a platform from which to air their views. Most commonly, those views fall into the realm of product reviews, and if you need anything in the digital age, you need consumers talking positively online about your dealership.
If you have an Omni Channel tool that enables customers to configure their cars and then share their creations and experiences of doing so via the likes of Twitter, they’ll be doing an awful lot of the marketing leg work for you.
- Use Facebook’s advertising platform
Facebook is a gold mine of consumer data and its advertising capabilities can be put to great use by car dealerships.
Facebook knows the demographics of its user base like no other and, as a result, can provide an incredibly powerful platform for businesses to target tightly-defined markets.
Using advanced, Omni-Channel marketing tools like OneDealer’s, you can form your target audiences based on hobbies, interests, buying habits, demographics and other methods and create vibrant, eye-catching adverts on Facebook. Just choose the age range, interests, location and various other demographics of your target audience and you’ll be assured that you ad will only appear where it’ll be most effective.
As a dealership, that means you can configure separate ads for specific types of car and ensure they’re only seen by those to whom they mean the most.
- Play the long game on Twitter
Another excellent way to integrate your automotive retail platform such as OneDealer, within social media is to connect it directly to Twitter.
The 140 character microblogging service is, essentially, one gigantic online conversation. You need to be part of that conversation if you’re to draw in consumers of the digital age. To do that, you need to start talking, and doing so consistently.
There are no quick wins on Twitter – you have to play the long game. That means posting daily with news about your dealership, current offers and musings on the car sector as a whole. You can be irreverent, try your hand at humour and connect with people in the industry by replying to their tweets.
Use hashtags liberally (“Visit our showroom this weekend for the #HotHatchback sale of the century”, for example) and be patient. Engagement will arrive sooner or later, but it’ll take time.
- Target the millennial generation on Instagram
Humans love visual material. In particular, the millennial generation devour anything that favours imagery over text.
Confirmation of this can be seen within the world of social media, where even Facebook has openly revealed that its millennial users are focussing more of their attention on the image sharing website Instagram (which, incidentally, Facebook owns).
Put simply, if you’re running a car dealership and have created an Instagram account only to leave it lying dormant, you’re missing out in a big way. Used mainly on mobile devices, the most image conscious of networks is the perfect hunting ground for potential customers.
As a dealership, you’re lucky – you have some of the most exciting content you can post on Instagram. Many business fail to see the value of this particular social network as they simply can’t find enough engaging imagery that relates to their business to share. You, on the other hand, sell cars, and they’re inherently attractive when photographed creatively.
Encourage yours sales staff to snap away whenever a vehicle catches their eye at a certain angle. Again, as with Twitter, use hashtags by mentioning manufacturers and the types of car on your forecourt. You’ll quickly start to draw in a very engaged audience.
You can, of course, do an awful lot more with social media, and there are more channels to explore, but we’ve picked out the most effective networks above and focussed on how you can use them to your advantage.
The best news? You can experiment and have fun with social media. So, do just that!