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Social Media Marketing – You’re Posting Content But Not Taking It Seriously

Marketing, the lifeblood of business is one of the pillars that keeps small and large companies alive. Without it the target markets that would benefit from the products and services you provide would never be reached, leaving hundreds, thousands, and millions of consumers without a tangible good that would better their daily lives. For years, marketing and advertising came in the form of newspapers, radio, television, billboards, and more recently SEO, websites, and email. Ask a number of businesses how important marketing is, and they’ll say without a doubt that it’s vital to their success. So why isn’t social media marketing taken as seriously as traditional forms of advertising, and why aren’t businesses experimenting with the different forms of content they’re posting on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube?

Having spent the last few years helping businesses in the automotive industry be more effective on social media platforms and getting sales through those channels, there’s nothing I haven’t seen nor heard that would surprise me pertaining to poor marketing on social media. The automotive industry is old school to the core, especially car dealerships. From the business model to how they advertise, car dealerships are operating as if it’s 1999 rather than 2017. With that being said, they’re not sure where to begin on social media and ultimately resort to what worked prior to the existence on Facebook and other platforms.

The lack of thoughtful content, in conjunction with promoting the wrong posts has led the entire car dealership segment down the wrong path, to a point where not one dealership differentiates itself from the rest. Content that is regurgitated from the corporate brand, non-native content, and irrelevant posts that don’t draw in sales litters these companies’ Facebook pages. It should be noted that this isn’t the dealerships’ faults, but actually the lack of progress being made in providing effective and modern marketing methods to the automotive industry.

Social media marketers stay clear of offering services to car dealerships because they have to be much more involved when it comes to the daily creation of content, and the vast differences in advertising methods that require knowing the product and the consumer. If there’s no help coming from marketing firms, car dealerships will have to look internally to increase exposure, engagement, and more importantly sales.

From a pure consulting role, my first piece of advice is to take social media marketing seriously. Yes, social media is more than just posting pictures of the food you had for lunch or sharing statuses about your favorite sports teams; it’s a very important advertising channel that must be utilized. Right now many dealerships aren’t on Instagram, they’re not creating high quality content on Facebook or any other platforms, and they’re not advertising with a purpose to sell cars. Now is the time to use a blueprint that works, draws in attention, grows a following, and leads to sales.

Once you’ve reached a point where you’re going to be dedicated to social media, now the fun begins. Facebook and Instagram are more than just platforms to run advertisements; they can be used to share high quality content that informs, persuades, and draws customers into buying a particular car at your dealership, and not somewhere else. Short 1-2 minute videos that fully detail the car being showcased such as price, specifications, fuel consumption, and performance will not only give the potential car buyer a virtual walk around tour, but your videos will help them immensely during the buying process. With these videos you then target the ideal car buyer through the use of Polk Data that Facebook provides, and now you not only have effective advertising, but have content that will grab the attentions of the people you targeted.

On Instagram photos and videos, along with advertising will help spread awareness of your dealership and the cars you provide. Having a few sports cars on your inventory can be used to your advantage, as car enthusiasts have a large community on Instagram, and are always looking for an upgrade. Being a part of the local car scene in Massachusetts, I know exactly where to find the right buyer on the picture and video oriented platform and also have the listings reach potential car buyers through my network.

YouTube and Twitter are really optional platforms depending on what your primary goal is for social media marketing. In my eyes the more platforms you’re on, the better. YouTube is ideal for longer, more in-depth videos that explain and outline everything the car offers, whereas Twitter isn’t known for being car dealership friendly which means more time and dedication is needed to see any results from that platform.

At the end of the day, the point of social media marketing is to increase sales. It doesn’t matter what your primary social media marketing platform is, as long as you’re the best at advertising and creating content in your area. Dealerships are still operating as if it’s the 20th century, which leaves you with the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their lack of vision, and snatch customers away from them. Social media marketing is very powerful and vital to car dealerships, and would be a big mistake not to use Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to your advantage.

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Digital Media Marketing – Enhancing Your Social Media Presence

When we think of car dealerships on social media, non-native content, links to articles related to the car brand the dealership is selling, and copy and pasted reviews from DealerRater dominate their Facebook pages. On Instagram, most car dealerships stay away from the platform, post sporadically, and if they are posting throughout the week the photos are usually from the brand itself. The blame cannot be pinned on the dealerships, but in fact the marketers. There’s a marketing disconnect and hopefully this article helps bridge the gap by providing a different way of thinking to help enhance the social media presence that car dealerships have.

In the 21st century the automotive industry relies heavily upon visual content, whether that be television commercials, photos, or videos by car magazines on YouTube. Car dealerships get a small piece of the digital media marketing pie, as companies rely upon the brand to supply them with commercials in their local areas. Rarely do dealerships create their own videos, photos and online commercials, and the ones who do are experiencing more engagement, reach, leads and sales.

For the automotive industry, digital media marketing is a separate entity from social media marketing. While car dealerships occasionally create Facebook ad campaigns, they’re not implementing 1-4 minute videos that can inform, educate, and alter consumers’ car buying decisions. Facebook ads alone are ineffective, as they don’t provide any value or reasons for consumers to purchase the cars the dealership is selling. Through digital media however, the results companies desire can certainly be achieved if they’re committed and dedicated to the long term success of social media marketing.

It is important to note that social media marketing isn’t an overnight solution or a free one. Money has to be spent to reach large groups of car buyers in the local area, as Facebook and Instagram algorithms have made it difficult to grow a following or customer base organically. On the flip side, Facebook does provide us with Polk Data that targets and pinpoints ideal car buyers who are in the market to purchase a new or used vehicle. Not only that, but we can also target people who are in the market to purchase a specific brand (i.e. Toyota) and type of vehicle (sedan, SUV, pickup etc).

Where digital media marketing comes into play is when you want to sell 2017 Toyota Camry’s to make room for the 2018s. You create one minute videos that briefly go over features, specifications, and price. The reason you want one minute videos is because they can also be posted to Instagram and Twitter, which maximizes the content’s effectiveness and reach. I’d do this for every trim of the Camry to be informative and educate car buyers on the differences between them and their prices. Add social media marketing ad campaigns and now you have a dealership that’s on every social media platform, posts high quality content daily, and informs and persuades car buyers to purchase not only the brand their selling, but buy a car from their dealership. Besides the creation of high quality digital media content, social media marketing becomes effortless, and at the end of the day you just go the competitive advantage on all the dealerships in your area.

Car dealerships need help on their social media pages, and marketers just want to run ad campaigns. The gap needs to be bridged, and I don’t see that happening any time soon unless marketers start providing digital media content. The automotive industry is very competitive, and right now a relatively strong economy is making it harder for dealerships to differentiate themselves from their competition. Digital media marketing can provide that, and with effective social media ad campaigns, you’ll begin to see the ROI, the growth in leads and sales, and the impact your dealership is having on car buyers through the content you’re posting.

Volvo S60 at Volvo Village Danvers

“Why Should I Buy Or Lease A Volvo Instead Of A Jaguar?”

It’s an interesting question, one in which many Volvo dealerships would never ask themselves. The same question can be asked if the roles were reversed. Why should I or anyone buy or lease a Volvo, Audi, Mercedes Benz, or BMW instead of a Jaguar? Car dealerships across the country are great at trying to sell you a car, but they’re not so great at convincing you to buy the cars they have on their lots. Instead of being the primary source of information and answering consumers’ questions through great content on their social media accounts, car dealerships let car magazines and independent automotive journalists shape and influence consumers’ buying decisions. That’s a mistake.

Depending on what your personal buying preference is, leasing is becoming an option for car buyers who want to drive luxury cars rather than getting stuck with a Toyota or Honda that they may not like. Thanks to leasing prices, Volvo and Jaguar can actually be cross shopped which was unthinkable a year ago. The Volvo S60 T5 and the Jaguar XE 25t and XE 35t are within the same monthly payment range, giving consumers yet another choice to make in the compact sedan luxury car market.

What are car dealerships doing to attract consumers to the brand they sell? Nothing. If I’m the social media marketer for either a Volvo or Jaguar dealership, I’m creating videos and high quality photos that can be shared on all social media platforms. Through this content, I’d provide information on features, specifications, fuel consumption, lease prices, and MSRP for the consumers who’d prefer to buy. Instead of mentioning the rival brand and what they offer, the goal of the content being created is to sell car buyers on the S60 or XE before they walk through the dealership’s doors.

By using effective advertising campaigns, with a little help of polk data provided by Facebook, I can target potential Jaguar and or Volvo car buyers who are in the market to purchase a vehicle. With the one minute high quality videos that I produced, I’d get peoples’ attentions which will ultimately lead them to the dealership’s inventory page. More importantly, those one minute videos can be shared to Instagram and Twitter as well to maximize the reach and effectiveness of the content.

Not only is having an advertising budget important, but finding ways to reach as many people as possible organically is a must. Which is why posting content that fits on all platforms, guarantees its success rate.

Car dealerships don’t spend time creating content or try attempting to play a role in consumers’ buying decisions. One piece of content that answers car buyers questions could be the difference between them buying a Volvo or Jaguar. Another aspect of using high quality content and effectively advertising it on social media is that you gain the upper hand on the dealership who sells the exact same brand 30 miles away. That advantage is crucial, not only because you’re going to be the Volvo or Jaguar dealership car buyers flock to, but that video you shared could determine what brand the car buyer chooses.

As a car enthusiast, on paper the Jaguar XE appears to be the better lease offer. I get into a much more prestigious brand, if I choose the XE 35t I also get more horsepower, and the exterior and interior styling would certainly garner attention and get looks. With that said, there’s the chance many consumers who would lease their next car feel the same way. That’s why it would be in the Volvo dealership’s best interest to create content the sways and alters a purchase decision. No matter which side of the brand spectrum you are on in this particular case, the answer is clear. Produce great content that informs and persuades car buyers to purchase to lease from your dealership, and not the rival brand down the street.

Social media marketing is crucial to increasing sales. By not having a presence on Facebook, Instagram, etc, you’re letting car magazines and YouTubers determine what consumers buy. Be the primary source of information and take advantage of the tools social media has to offer. When it comes to car sales, you can’t afford to be the second or third option.

Email: mikecerrasmm@gmail.com
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Listening is the Key to Being Successful On Social Media

For many, Valentine’s Day is when people appreciate their significant other for being in their lives. Successful relationships are predicated on listening and communication, as without both, the companionship between the two parties couldn’t be possible. The same can be applied to business, specifically the social media marketing aspect of customer retention and acquisition. If you or your social media manager aren’t listening to the customers that walk through your doors, purchase online, or the consumer market you’re trying to reach, you’ll fail at growing your clientele.

Many people ask me, “So how do you know your social media marketing strategy works, and why is it good for my business?” My answer is always, “Because I know the customer, I know what they want, and I know what gets their attention and drives them to a purchase. “More importantly, I know their behaviors on social media and why they use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to share moments of time in their lives.”

Whether it’s purchasing a car, graduating college, going to Disney World, or having a positive experience with a company, people share the highlights of their daily lives. On the flip side, they also share their lowest points, and it’s important for businesses of any market to not be part of the negative posts and photos that are being shared.

I primarily provide social media marketing services to companies in the automotive industry, but the strategies I provide haven’t been created because I’m smart, but it’s my ability to listen to not only customers, but other business owners. Business owners who are successfully managing their social media accounts without a marketer and seeing great results, often share with me why they’re growing a clientele. They focus on what the customer wants, and share content that resonates best with them. With the entrepreneur’s ability to listen, happy customers and clients are now posting statuses and photos voluntarily on their personal Facebook accounts, raving about the services and products these particular businesses are offering.

In life you’ll learn that many people hear, but very few listen. Listening is the basis of strong business relationships, friendships, and personal relationships. By having the ability to listen, you can begin to apply tactics that draw in customers, grow a following on your social media pages, and become the most popular business in your sector by developing deep and meaningful customer relationships where your clientele become lifelong customers.

With all this being said, this is why many businesses in the automotive sector fail, and you’ve probably seen the same issues arise in the market that you know best. Social media marketing should never be used to hard sell; instead, focus on what the customer wants rather than you making a sale or stuffing money in your pockets. In the long run, you’ll attract more customers, and the community you begin to create will become your greatest marketing and advertising asset. Many old school marketers are focused on selling on Facebook and Instagram, when in reality, their customers will begin doing most of the work due to social media’s ability to enhance word of mouth.

Listening to your customers will dictate the type of content you post, which in turn will elevate your advertising game in the process. If you truly know your customers and what attracts them to purchasing the products you sell or the services you provide, social media marketing will no longer be looked at as hard, and instead will be rather fun, as you begin to create customer relationships that last.

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Car Dealerships – The Formula To Selling Vehicles On Social Media

In the automotive industry social media marketing, for the most part, is an after-thought for many car dealerships, whether individually or franchised owned. Not only is overlooking social media as a viable advertising and sales outlet detrimental, it’s costing your dealership a lot of money. Pass by a dealership over the course of a week, two weeks, a month, and take notice at what cars aren’t leaving the dealership’s lot. Then search for their business on social media platforms, and if they do have existing accounts, nine out of 10 times the Facebook page hasn’t been updated in months, and in some instances years. It explains why good, dependable cars aren’t selling, despite being affordable and with a clear CarFax.

Lack of a social media presence is just one of the main ingredients to weak sales. Without someone at the helm, there’s no Facebook ad campaigns which means there’s no reach. Without good digital media content that informs customers on what features come with the vehicle in the pictures or videos that are being posted, how are sales going to be generated from social media?

A struggling car dealership nearby has $700,000 worth of vehicles sitting on the lot and some of the cars have been their since the summer. I don’t proclaim to know everything, but inventory that isn’t being moved in a relatively short time is neither good for the dealership, nor is it good for the business’ perception and brand as potential customers may question the reliability of the cars being sold. They need a solid social media marketing strategy that gets results, because traditional forms of advertising has failed this business. What should be the first course of action for this particular dealership?

If I walk in Monday, the first objective is to start creating content. Without content, there’s nothing to advertise on Facebook, which means no one will click or engage, making the ad campaign a complete waste of time and money. The first car that would get posted is the one that’s most likely to get sold. Because this dealership sells Toyotas among other brands in their pre-owned only inventory, I’d start taking high quality photos and make quick walk around videos so potential customers get a virtual look.

Once the content is created, I’d spend time working on ad campaigns that effectively reach and target customers in the market for a pre-owned car. Within this target audience, I’d then include car brands that customers would cross shop with the vehicle in the photo or video being promoted. By doing this, you’re reaching the entire market, possibly swaying customers to purchasing the vehicle at this dealership. With this ad campaign, the final destination would be to the dealership’s website, but more specifically, the web page this particular vehicle is being sold on. Now all traffic sees the vehicle, it’s price, and it’s CarFax, simplifying the customer’s buying process.

There are different avenues that can be taken in reaching customers through Facebook ads. It ultimately comes down to what your primary goal is. Do you want web traffic or Facebook likes? Interested car buyers or serious customers who will be purchasing a car very soon? Advertising on social media for car dealerships is rather simple, it’s the work that’s required in researching your target audience and creating content where commitment and consistency is needed that dealerships aren’t willing to put in. It’s that lack of effort and work ethic that can be attributed to poor car sales and inventory not being moved.

Facebook is your greatest asset for social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean you focus on just one platform. Instagram should also be taken seriously, as ad campaigns that are created can also be posted on the picture and video content dominated social media app. Digital media marketing is the present and future, and if you’re not using social media, you’re playing a significant role in the slowing of car sales for your dealership. Get serious and committed; hire someone if necessary. In 2017, it’s a must to use social media marketing if you want to see sales growth this year.

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Pleading For Engagement – A Sign Of Weak Social Media Marketing

“Click the link”, “Check it out”, and “What do you think?” are just three of probably many phrases that social media managers use to try getting engagement from their followers and customers. Essentially pleading for responses is a sign of weakness, and is more of a reflection on poor content that you’re posting, rather than your followers reluctance to engage with your statuses. More often than not, posts with phrases or questions to bait followers into a response usually aren’t answered, unless your business or products attracts a broader audience where asking a question can lead to further understanding your customers.

Being a marketer in the automotive industry, I’ll be using examples from car dealerships, but you can apply them to your business sector, or the company your work for. Car dealerships are notoriously awful when it comes to social media marketing, and many customers I’ve talked to agree that they’re failing to attract them to new cars or brands. In recent articles I’ve discussed the need for digital media marketing, and why it needs to be infused in social media strategies for the automotive industry. This time, let’s take a look at the context behind poor content, and why dealerships continue to swing and miss.

A car dealership nearby shared a photo to promote their used car inventory. Despite using native content, the caption limited the picture’s effectiveness.

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“We have lots of pre-owned S60s in stock. Come on down and drive one….you’ll be glad you did!” The first question that comes to mind is, Why?” Why will customers be glad they test drove a pre-owned Volvo S60? There’s nothing enticing and no reason for someone to consider trading in their current vehicle for a newer one.

Having driven one, the comfortable interior that makes the driving experience more relaxing can rival the German brands. The S60’s turbocharged 5 cylinder engine that puts out 250 hp gives the driver some performance to have some fun on the road, while also retaining a decent combined MPG of 20 in the city and 29 on the highway. In addition to performance, the Volvo S60 provides a navigation system, and a unique dashboard design that resembles a waterfall, adding another dimension of luxury and styling.

The social media manager of this dealership tried creating an action to be taken by the followers, when in actuality it most likely did the opposite. The basis of effective marketing is providing benefits of the product you’re selling, and why the person you’re reaching must buy from you rather than the rival dealership down the street. Less than a mile down the road from this Volvo dealership is BMW, the car branded as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. Because BMW’s corporate marketing is superior to that of Volvo’s, the dealership selling the S60s were already at a disadvantage, which is why providing any form of information or value to the consumer, would have been more beneficial than, “Come on down and drive one….you’ll be glad you did!”

Another example is from an Acura dealership. While they’re better than most at social media marketing, they completely missed with this piece of content for several reasons. On a side note, this isn’t the first dealership to post irrelevant non-native content to consumers, they’re just the most recent.

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What stands out first is the link itself, rather than the context of the post. The link leads to Business Insider and not the dealership’s website. By sending any traffic to another site besides your own, you risk losing that person, as their attention may never return. Once they click into the link, Business Insider could very well have interesting content that draws them in, which could lead that traffic to stumbling upon an article that’s titled, “Why Lexus and Infiniti Are Better than Acura”. Now you’ve lost potential customers forever.

More importantly however, it’s not likely an Acura NSX race car that will be participating in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona would resonate with Acura buyers. There’s no argument that a large percentage of this dealership’s clientele aren’t going to take their ILX, RLX, or TLX to a track anytime soon, if ever. The content is irrelevant and received only one like for obvious reasons. As I stated before, this dealership is better than most in the area when it comes to social media, but for others, these posts are shared routinely which alienates a number of consumers who would benefit more from digital media that explains and provides information on cars they’re interested in.

When it comes to social media, you can’t solve simple problems with complex solutions. A change in content by using digital media, along with providing value or information and in conjunction with effectively advertising, is the blueprint to getting customers on social media. Pleading for engagement or trying to get a response from your followers rarely works, and if you truly know who your clientele are, you’ll create content that hits the right tone and gets the reaction you’re looking for.

Lexus IS 350 F Sport

Car Dealerships – Customer Retention vs Customer Acquisition

It shouldn’t be this way, but for some businesses, customer retention takes precedence over customer acquisition. When you analyze a company’s behavior on Facebook, the content they share, the amount of ad campaigns they run, and their engagement and follower growth rates tells a lot about what their social media marketing strategy is. You’ll sometimes notice that businesses use social media platforms as if they’re personal accounts, being friendly and trying to retain already existing customers, rather than actively searching for new consumers to increase sales. This strategy is evident in the automotive industry, as car dealerships spend very little time seeking new customers, and would rather stand pat with the number of followers they have on their social media pages.

Car dealerships’ Facebook pages for the most part lack every important characteristic of a healthy business that sees sales through social media efforts. There’s no growth in likes or engagement, no ad promotions, lazy content curation, and a troubling lack of commitment and consistency to their social media accounts. The content that is shared is geared more towards current customers who already purchased a car recently, as opposed to potential car buyers who haven’t made a decision on which vehicle they’ll purchase next. When all put together, these ingredients create a perception that sales for car dealerships on social media is impossible, which is not the case as dealerships refuse to stick to or find a strategy that works for the clientele they’re marketing to.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with customer retention as customer equity is key to the long term survival and success of the dealership. The problem however is the fact that most car buyers aren’t likely to trade in for newer models until two or three years down the road at the earliest, so you’re banking on your content to retain the attention of your customers to your brand so they do return. How about creating content and ad campaigns that achieve both customer retention and customer acquisition? You’ll be appealing to more than one type of consumer, and while you’re drawing in clientele, you’re also retaining the customers who recently purchased a car from your dealership.

How can you change up your social media marketing strategy to see results in 2017? Create digital media, whether it be photos or videos of the cars you sell, and use ad campaigns to reach new people. Seeing as though Facebook and other social media platforms have changed their algorithms, organic reach has been limited, which means it’s a must to either boost your posts with $5 – $10 per day or create weekly ad campaigns to grow and expand your content’s reach and influence.

Dealerships primarily share non-native content, usually sharing links to car magazines or news organizations that review the brand’s vehicles, or news related to the cars that the dealership sells. This form of content isn’t effective and it’s quite clear when you look at the lack of engagement. Instead, post pictures and videos that provide value to consumers such as specifications of the car, safety features, fuel efficiency, while also displaying your vehicles in a good light. Car magazines aren’t biased, which means their reviews could lead customers to rival brands. It’s your job to sell potential car buyers on the cars you sell, not the magazine’s.

Ad campaigns then reach people who are in the market for a car if you advertise effectively and know your target audience. Sales can not be generated without marketing, and even though dealerships have been accustomed to marketing themselves on television and radio rather than the cars they’re selling, on social media both have to be the center of attention to acquire new customers on Facebook or other platforms.

A majority of car dealerships try retaining customers, and they’re failing at it. Be proactive and start actively searching for new car buyers. You cannot see any growth on social media by sporadically posting content on your accounts, and being uncommitted to this form of marketing. Social media marketing hasn’t been seen as a legitimate form of online sales, not because it doesn’t work, but car dealerships only stick to what they know best; television, newspapers, and radio ads. It’s time to market in the year that we’re living in, and treat social media the same way you do with traditional advertising. The time to increasing car sales is now, so change up your strategy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and start seeing results today.