Game strategy drawn with white chalk on a blackboard.

Effective Social Media Marketing Starts With A Game Plan

Social media marketing is simply one of the most powerful methods in turning followers into customers, yet many who manage the accounts for small and large businesses don’t see the potential that is there. In the automotive industry on the dealership level, the lack of commitment, consistency, and even the reluctance to spend on ads are key factors as to why they’re not seeing results. Being conservative on spending for social media marketing is an obstacle that can be worked around, but commitment and consistency go hand-in-hand, and if you don’t have either one, you won’t see lasting results.

The level of involvement to your dealership’s social media marketing is paramount. If you’re not sitting down with the person who manages your accounts quarterly to go over effective strategies and numbers that pertain to traffic, engagement, and leads through Facebook, Instagram, etc, you’ll never see any value in having accounts for your dealership. There needs to be a game plan right from the start where objectives and goals are written down to fully understand why social media is a viable tool in generating online sales. Only then will the content that your dealership is producing and sharing on a daily basis have consistency and coherency on your Facebook timelines.

Facebook is a measuring stick to see how effective and committed you truly are to seeing any results. If you’re noticing a pattern with the content your dealership is promoting, such as lack of variety when it comes to digital media or receiving no engagement, then there needs to be a change. Recently I was going through my timeline and a local dealership showed up in my newsfeed eight times within twelve hours, and as no surprise, not one of the posts achieved greater than two likes, and when taking a closer look they were dealership employees not customers.

It’s this bipolar attitude towards social media where there’s five posts one day, no posts for the next three days, and then eight statuses that are completely irrelevant to customers four days later, it shouldn’t be shocking that dealerships aren’t seeing results. We are living in a time where going a weekday without updating a social media account can be absolutely detrimental, especially if your dealership has integrated digital media into it’s marketing strategy. There needs to be a rhythm and consistency to social media marketing, and once you’re in that groove, the engagement will come.

For 2017 make it a goal to ask these questions. Is our content attracting an audience? If not, why? What is our primary goal with marketing on social media? Are we going to promote our vehicles through third party links that take our audience further away from our webpage, or are we going to create digital content that drives traffic to other social media pages we operate and our website? One important thing to remember, and I see it far too often from dealerships, those articles from Car & Driver or national news websites are driving traffic away from your dealership, which could lead those people down a path that doesn’t return to your Facebook page or website.

The content that is being shared and your commitment and consistency will determine what happens for your dealership this year. Your goal is to sell cars and get people into your showroom, not inform them on winter driving tips and topics that are irrelevant to 90% of your customers. Having a strategy and game plan, similar to what is drawn up for traditional advertising such as billboards, television and radio ads, can be beneficial for your social media marketing strategy. Marketing on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms should be taken seriously, which is why mapping out objectives and goals for your content will be crucial to seeing results this year.

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Don’t Treat Social Media as a Bulletin Board – But Rather a Marketing Platform

The theme of the past few articles has been to look forward to 2017 as a new beginning, one in which the content that is being posted on your dealership’s social media pages is worthy of engagement and further action taken by the customer. There is no doubt that digital media will be at the forefront of social media marketing strategies for companies in all business sectors heading into the new year. For many in the automotive industry, the addition of digital media is not only a new concept for most dealerships’ marketing strategies, but will be crucial to increasing online sales.

When you visit dealership’s social media pages, primarily on Facebook, the timeline resembles a bulletin board. The links to third party sites that are irrelevant to the customer, along with posts that receive no engagement are like the papers tacked onto walls back in high school that you went by everyday to class, and maybe looked at once. You want future, present, and past customers, along with potential buyers to always come back for more, and be frequent visitors to your Facebook page, or accounts on other social media platforms. That traffic will eventually lead to referrals, as people who view, like, comment, and share your content are playing a role in the distribution of your brand and digital media.

The reason why digital media negates the effect of your Facebook page becoming a bulletin board is because it’s your own content. The pictures that you take and the videos you produce are not only eye catching, they’re informative, which is providing value to the consumer.

Most dealerships will post anything to see what sticks or gets the most engagement, and that’s why there’s no coherency to the timeline. You’ll see photos from the corporate brand, articles from Car and Driver, and even local news or events being posted sporadically. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a part of the local community or creating posts that may not necessarily be the vehicles on your lot, but there needs to be a balance in terms of the content that you’re creating.

Digital media should always come first and be promoted to achieve engagement and interest, while also accumulating likes and followers. With customers’ attentions now on your dealership because you’re providing informative and eye catching content that motivates people to visit your showroom, you can then inject other forms of content that wouldn’t have received any viewership. For instance, sharing news about your dealership, upcoming events, and coupons for current customers when they bring their cars in for service. Many dealerships put the cart before the horse, which is why most social media pages end up being a list of posts with no engagement because there was no audience to begin with. There needs to be a reason for people to visit your social media pages if you desire seeing results.

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In the picture above, a local dealership promoted a preview of a video they shared on YouTube about a GMC they were selling. There were 2,000 views in less than a week, which was more traffic on that one video than they have likes on Facebook. The viewers attention is not only on that GMC, but the dealership that created that digital media. With that attention, the social media manager can now guide that audience in any direction he/she wants. In this case, driving traffic to the YouTube channel that has more than 4,000 subscribers. These followers and subscribers can eventually become customers as over time, the digital media that’s being created is going to motivate buyers to visit this dealership and purchase or lease that vehicle.

Think of each social media post as a bread crumb on a trail. Your objective is to lead customers in the direction of purchasing/leasing a vehicle, or at the very least, like, comment, or share the content you’re creating. Your followers have just as much power to bringing new customers to your showroom as the digital media you’re creating. So the thought process when diving into social media is that your content is persuading and driving people to react, whether that be engaging with your content, visiting your showroom, or being moved to make a purchase.

Social media platforms should be treated with excitement. Instead of being the traditional dealership that just throws out hard selling copy or irrelevant content, you’re producing high quality digital media that makes an impact, and that’s why social media marketing is so unique when it comes to advertising.

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Digital Media In Conjunction With Social Media = Marketing Brilliance

2017 is upon us, which means it’s a new year and a clean slate to improve on areas that we may have come up short on in 2016. Effective social media marketing is much more difficult to achieve because commitment and involvement are necessary ingredients to seeing the results that you desire. If 2016 didn’t go as planned in terms of sales, engagement, and audience growth, now is the time to fix those problems and look to 2017 as they year you crush your competition on all social media platforms. In 2017, digital media is the new king and it will be the deciding factor for increased sales growth per quarter.

In the automotive industry, what is one of the biggest complaints from car buyers? They feel that dealerships are out of touch with the consumer, which in most cases these days is actually false, as many dealerships have made great strides in making car buying a very fun process. In any case, there are different ways of changing this perception, one being to add a comfortable environment that doesn’t rush buyers into hasty decision, and a few other strategies that happen once the customer is in the door. But what if we can change these perceptions before the buyer is even considering purchasing a car? That’s where digital media comes into play.

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Digital media is the future, not only for online sales, but to entice interested buyers to visit your car dealership. Text, links to articles, and poor content does not get engagement, likes, or shares. In fact, it doesn’t receive much attention at all. Vehicles, much like houses, require an extra level of involvement from the marketing side of the buying process, as there needs to be a reason(s) why a specific car or house has to be purchased now, rather than down the road.

For instance, you’re a Volvo dealership and on your lot is this 2006 Volvo S40. Now, most likely you’d be pushing 2016s or 2017s, but let’s just use this car in the pictures above as an example. What should be the course of action your dealership should take to get this car sold? Digital media content that can be created and promoted on multiple social media platforms is the best strategy to start getting leads. Whether it’s high quality photos, a virtual walk around, or a video review, the content that is being created will get noticed by your targeted audience on Facebook and Instagram. Remember, your ultimate goal is to get sales, and digital media on your social media accounts will achieve your goals of getting traffic to your website that will eventually lead to the S40 finding a new home.

One dealership that gets it is Audi Wilsonville in Oregon. They continually post digital media to their Facebook and Instagram accounts, and the number of likes and engagement they receive speaks for itself. A lot of social media ads and promotions were necessary to get the amount of responses they do, but I’ve been following them for over two years and they’ve never ceased on providing eye catching content on their Facebook page. Here is the link to check it out for yourself.

https://www.facebook.com/AudiWilsonville/

If you want to start seeing results from your social media efforts, you must be committed everyday to posting high quality content that’s worthy of people reacting to it. The days of having a bland timeline are over as other dealerships are beginning to awaken to the fact that non-native and lackluster content just doesn’t work if you’re seeking to sell vehicles on all your social media platforms. It’s time to get serious and start injecting digital media into your marketing strategy, while also creating a schedule in which these posts are shared at times when you’ll receive the most impressions and traffic.

2017 is a whole new year, and a new beginning to increase car sales to outperform your competition. Let 2017 be remembered as the year when your dealership set itself apart from the rest.

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Car Dealerships Fall Short When It Comes to Marketing

In many industries we can sit at the desk in our offices and find a blueprint to effective marketing in the business sector we work in. Finding experienced professionals on the Internet or social media who have created content on marketing strategies for businesses are a dime a dozen, but in some industries it’s not as easy to find marketers who are sharing their knowledge on what works and doesn’t. The automotive market is one of the most directionless sectors when it comes to advertising, social media, and digital marketing in the 21st century. Why? Because content for car dealerships requires involvement, rather than automation.

For small or regional businesses, automation was the worst strategy imposed by marketers on thousands of businesses across the country. Car dealerships are immune to automation because there’s a level of involvement in the car buying process that marketers don’t deal with when selling household items or services; the product itself. Buying a vehicle is much more difficult than buying drapes or curtains, because there’s a number of factors that come into play: interior space, cargo room, drivetrain, horsepower, reliability, and appearance. It’s these same factors that keep marketers away, as to effectively market vehicles they’re required to leave their office and create the content themselves, rather than promote infographics on Facebook.

Car dealerships of all sizes are leaderless in the marketing realm because no one, up to this point, has been willing to take the risk and completely revolutionize how customers buy cars. Yes there are many apps that help aid dealerships, but at the end of the day, they do absolutely nothing to draw potential customers into the showroom. For far too long dealerships have promoted their brand, posted ads in the newspaper, or created banners ads on web pages and then waited for interested viewers to click on the link and hopefully contact that dealership.

In 2017 that can all change by taking the content to the customer on social media and the web. Instead of waiting for people to walk through your doors, your content will reach them in their homes and on their mobile devices. Today, with the power of digital media, your dealership can create YouTube videos and pictures that will be posted on your Facebook page where they can be promoted and shared to people who are in the market for a new vehicle. The days of old school marketing are behind us, and it’s time to add a new dimension to your marketing efforts.

Right now no one has stepped up to the plate and changed an entire industry for the better. Few have come close, but because they don’t have a marketing or business background, they’ve completely missed on the opportunity to revolutionize car buying. In 2017, generate more sales by committing to a social media marketing strategy. As the years pass, your competition will begin to utilize social media, and that’s why it’s imperative that you take the initiative to be first, grabbing the attention of customers in your area.

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The Auto Industry Is Old, But The Marketing Strategy Shouldn’t Be

Throughout the decades, there have been industries that have stood the test of time despite the changing in technology that has closed many businesses over the years. One essential business sector, the automotive industry, shows absolutely no signs of going extinct as transportation is a major part of our lives in the 21st century. With that being well known, what isn’t so obvious is how marketing on the local level for cars hasn’t changed in decades. While websites like eBay Motors and CarFax have added a new dimension to sales, car dealerships are still operating as if it were the 1990’s.

We could sit here and speculate as to why the industry hasn’t changed over the years, but the lack of qualified millennials in key positions is a possible variable that shouldn’t be ignored. Yes, car salesman are beginning to get younger and car dealerships have made great strides in hiring experts on the brand of vehicles they sell. However, that’s still not enough to revolutionize the marketing behind car sales. Brand experts don’t market, in fact dealerships are using such a term because “car salesman” creates a bad perception that reflects poorly on dealerships that want to be friendlier with customers and not push a quick sale.

A revamped marketing strategy that hires committed employees or freelancers, depending on the size of the dealership’s franchise, is a must in the 21st century. It’s not enough to add someone who is familiar with marketing; you need enthusiasts who are passionate about vehicles, no matter what brand you sell. These enthusiasts will be your best marketers, and well worth the investment of time and money as their vision for content curation, along with their social media savviness will outperform the most experienced person on your staff.

You’re probably asking why should we hire car enthusiasts, and how will our marketing change in the hands of a millennial? To start, car enthusiasts who are also marketers know exactly what turns a potential buyer on. Digital media, through the forms of video and pictures is the future to car buying as YouTube has completely changed the game in terms of introducing vehicles and brands to customers of all demographics. Car and Driver magazines used to be relevant, but today, customers in the market for a new car, go straight to YouTube for reviews on the models they’re looking for. Why not get in on the action and create the content yourselves? That’s where the car enthusiast/marketer comes into play.

Millennials are well aware that social media is a powerful tool in generating interest, and enticing potential customers to walk through the door. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are the three major weapons that should be in car dealerships’ arsenals. Facebook provides a blog-like structure where updates in text or digital media form can be created. Instagram is where high quality pictures draws the interest of the viewer to follow your account and check out your website. YouTube is the flagship where your best content is created. Here car reviews, walk arounds, previews, and unveilings are all posted, and by tying the video producing platform with other social media channels, your marketing efforts have been fully upgraded where anyone, even those who reside in other states, are being reached by your content.

Most importantly you must stay consistent with posting, which is why hiring an enthusiast/marketer is the key to having a successful marketing strategy. Far too many dealerships post sporadically, while others who stay active see the most ROI and engagement.

In 2017, make sure your dealership(s) joins the 21st century and starts marketing in the year that we live in. Car sales happen every day due to the necessity that vehicles bring, but wouldn’t you like to increase those sales figures in the 1st quarter of the new year? Now is the time to take advantage of what millennials have to offer, especially those who are knowledgable in the business sector your dealership is in. Social media offers great opportunities to grow your franchise’s brand, and it would be foolish not to implement it into your marketing strategy.

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8000 Likes On Facebook But No Engagement – Blame Your Content

As Facebook matures, so does businesses’ attitudes towards the platform for marketing and sales purposes. Throughout the year, companies from all business sectors create ad campaigns, promote content, and then wait for customers to flood their online or brick and mortar stores. If life were that simple we’d all be living comfortably, but sadly many owners and social media managers believe without a doubt that the conventional strategy of promote and wait for sales works. As a result, many business Facebook pages amass large followings but receive very little engagement. Why? Poor and lacking content is to blame.

There are plenty of businesses out there where marketing efforts by social media managers is downright embarrassing, especially for those who are not a Mom and Pop store. While social media marketing atrocities occur in all business sectors, the automotive industry is by far the worst, and we can all learn how not to use Facebook, or any social media platform for marketing purposes.

Everything comes down to the product and the content. In the automotive world, vehicles are effectively marketed on the corporate level making the product appealing, but it’s the dealerships on the local side of spectrum where lack of content could be detrimental to sales figures, especially when the objective is to increase sales through the use of social media. One important factor that dealerships must consider is that not only are they competing with rival brands, but they’re also trying to out-perform the other dealership that sells the same vehicles. It’s that realization that many general managers haven’t grasped yet, and once their competition effectively markets on all social media channels, the dealership that didn’t innovate will be immediately left behind.

What absolutely infuriates me as a social media manager is the endless amount of useless content shared and promoted on dealership’s Facebook pages. Links to articles, sometimes not even in the automotive industry are shared, along with regurgitated content from the corporate pages are posted constantly. It should come as no surprise that there’s no engagement whatsoever and these posts fall on deaf ears. Dealerships have the ability to create their own content, and they don’t have to walk far from their desks as the vehicles in their showroom are the perfect start to revitalizing their bland social media accounts.

Native content is the key to engagement, which has the ability to lead to sales. In recent studies, 84% of millennials’ buying decisions are influenced by user generated content. That means, taking high quality photos or creating digital media content of your products, or in this case vehicles, will effect sales, especially for brands within the price range of 20 and 30 somethings. It should also be noted that social media isn’t just a young person’s online playground as women aged 40 and older are the largest growing demographic of users on Instagram, and 50+ year olds are joining Facebook in higher volumes than any other age group.

Your inability to increase engagement is not a reflection of your product or your audience, but it’s your content. For businesses in the automotive industry or sectors where visualization is a major factor in influencing sales, native content is a must. While some consumers will go to the manufacturer for the answers, the dealerships have the vehicles and all the trim levels for each model. By promoting high quality digital media, these dealerships are going to start seeing engagement by serious buyers and window shoppers, which is much more productive and possibly rewarding than posting lackluster content that gets no likes, comments or shares.

2017 is a new year. Whether you’re in auto sales or services, your content is key to driving sales. The customer’s first impression is an important one, which is why eye candy that grabs people’s attentions is necessary to being successful on social media. Make great content a priority this upcoming year and begin to see your sales figures flourish.

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Effective Social Media Marketing Starts With A Clear Message

Before social media, timelines, and news feeds, companies of all sizes could generate clear messages through email marketing, newspapers, and radio ads. The message was simple and direct, with the objective to get customers to visit an online store to purchase a company’s products, or promote a physical location to shop or visit. Today with social media marketing, many small businesses lack a consistent message because they either don’t post enough, or they post so often on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that each status or tweet has absolutely nothing to do with the previous posting. Coherency and staying on point is a lost art in marketing, especially on social media, and the businesses that do stay consistent with their message, get engagement.

There are businesses among all sectors that struggle with sticking to one message. The companies that are succeeding have done an excellent job with defining who they are, whether that be the solo entrepreneur who knows his or her business and market completely, or leaders within a larger company that have instilled in the marketing department the culture and brand the business is expressing to their customers through social media. With that being said, what about the businesses that don’t have a clear message, and often deviate from being consistent by posting too many updates that don’t stay on point? Why are they struggling and can it be fixed?

The best examples of companies in major business sectors that are brutally awful at social media is automotive and real estate. Both industries have put so much effort into sales that they’ve completely forgotten that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t necessarily selling platforms, but in fact marketing avenues that attract customers by enticing them, rather than pushing them into buying. Most notably in the automotive world, once you get to the dealership level, any semblance of good marketing is rare at best, and as a result, you get incoherent messages or posts that make no sense for the car selling business.

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A local Volvo dealership who usually posts sporadically throughout the year, must have gotten the urge to start posting around the holidays. But instead of actually promoting sales offers or cars on the new and used lots, the social media manager decides that sharing a YouTube video of two non street legal Volvos racing around a track in Sweden is relevant to customers interested in purchasing a Volvo. What is the message that the dealership wants to portray to past, present, and future buyers? If posting Car & Driver or MotorTrend articles are the basis of their social media strategy, they’ve failed at using Facebook as a viable platform to sell cars on.

These dealerships have vehicles that they know inside and out as they’ve been trained to sell them to people who walk in the doors. They know the specifications and price tags, but more importantly, they’ll be the first ones to receive new models. The message should be quite clear and if I was the social media manager, this would be my statement to the department. “Our mission is to sell cars, with that being said, we should create our own content surrounding the cars on our lots, and the service department that maintains customers’ vehicles and this should be the focus of our message”. Once the message is in place, then you can effectively market your business and products.

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Real estate, much like the car industry, is a very sales driven market. However, with social media now entering the picture, it appears that once hard selling companies have been forced to become friendly and informative, but they’re going about it the wrong way. In the picture above, Century 21 shared a link to an article about wall painting. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being informal, but what’s the message that they want to portray?

If selling property and houses are the main goal, why is painting walls relevant to potential buyers if they can get that information from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sherwin Williams? More importantly, renovation and updating the interior is the step after purchasing, which realtors wouldn’t be a part of. Technically, that’s not their role in real estate and it’s the contractors who would benefit most by sharing that article as it would be a message they’d want to promote on their Facebook page.

With the same mindset as the dealership, the social media manager has to come up with a clear message and build content around that message. “The goal is to sell houses, therefor creating content that’s beneficial to the buyer, whether that be through digital media or pictures, would be an immensely powerful tool to attract potential buyers to our realtor firm.” When it comes to social media, it’s all about the message. Once the message is set in place, then a strategy on content creating can be put in place.

Social media marketing is essentially the basis of your business’ mission statement. Why was your business created, who are your customers, and why would they choose you? The same questions can be applied to you social media marketing strategy. Once you get the answers, your message will be clear and effective. Until that point, you’ll never get the most out of your social media efforts.

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