Automotive social Media
How to market on social media for dealerships.
Over the last 10 years, Social media has grown from the days of Myspace and your top friends to a booming metaverse of multi-channel communication. These communication channels have only risen in importance for businesses of all types, including Automotive.
What Social Media Channels are suitable for your dealership?
Should my dealership have a presence on every channel out there? Does my dealership need to join new social media platforms right away, or is it wiser to wait until they have been adopted in the mainstream? Should my dealership only focus on a few channels, and what should those few be?
Yes, it can be overwhelming; but it doesn’t have to be. Our team of automotive social media experts has compiled these best practices so you can ensure your dealership has a top-tier social media strategy for the platforms you need a presence on, without wasting time and energy on the ones you don’t.
What is the best way to use Facebook (Meta) for my dealership?
Meta has become a cornerstone of Automotive Social Media Marketing. Not only does your business page help with Google rankings, but
Meta Business Manager for Dealership Advertising
Besides the ability to create an open channel of communication, Meta has a robust advertising platform called Business Manager, where you can create a variety of ads with multiple ways to target a wide variety of audiences.
Types of Ads
- Single Image
While some institutions may push the idea that Carousel ads are top performers in the automotive realm, we have found different and urged our dealers to embrace Collection Ads instead. As a result, they have a much higher engagement rate and Click-Through Rate. Need more proof? Read the results yourself (add link to case study).
Mobile vs. Desktop ads: What’s the Difference and Why It Matters
Meta gives you control over if your ads will be shown on the mobile feed, desktop feed, or both
- Meta gives you control over if your ads will be shown on the mobile feed, desktop feed, or both
- 98.5% of Meta users use mobile devices, 81.8% only use a mobile device to access their feed (https://www.statista.com/statistics/377808/distribution-of-facebook-users-by-device/)
- Collections are mobile-only but outperform other ad types & are more customizable with the ability to add more information and landing pages
- Expert recommendation: optimize all ads for mobile as your main focus while maintaining a desktop presence
Third-Party Data: Social Media for Automotive’s Silver Bullet
As a Dealer Authority standard, we recommend working with a partner who can provide even more customer data than the minimal targeting options available natively in Meta. While their provided targeting data is good, the tech giant removes more and more targeting options every year. Pair this with the iOS14 update of 2021 that removed massive amounts of targeting data, and you’re in a rough spot if you’re sticking with Meta’s data exclusively. In order to reach potential customers who actually are interested in your products, you need to invest in third-party options to stay ahead of the competition.
What makes third-party data so critical to your business’s advertising needs? Third-party data partners can provide very specific customer data, such as in-market shoppers for new or used models. Yes, you will have to shell out some cash to access this data, but spending a little more to reach people who are actively looking for a business like yours is so much better than spending a little less to reach people who couldn’t care less about buying a vehicle right now. A hard rule in any marketing is the better the targeting, the less waste of money.
If you’re looking for a dedicated digital marketing partner who can weave third-party data into your dealership’s social media strategy, you’ve come to the right place. Our team of social strategists has been delivering exceptional social media campaign results through the power of third-party data for nearly a decade. Ask Jeff today how we can hyper-target your local, in-market car shoppers and drive them straight to your website.
Tips for working on Meta:
- Post frequently; if you are not putting budget behind your post by creating a post engagement ad or Boosting, you should post once a day. If you are adding some budget, shoot for 3 to 4 times a week.
- Add variety to your posts; your page will burn people out if you only post vehicles for sale. Try adding local or industry updates to help round out your page’s personality.
- Respond to everything! Yes, that’s correct; responding to even a comment that says “Cool” will pay off in the long run. But also don’t forget to respond to those positive and negative reviews.
- Look for 3rd party data; it’s more targeted and can take your Meta ads game to a new level.
To make the most out of your dealership’s content strategy, check out our resource here (link to front-facing page posting article)
How to use Instagram for Dealership Social Media
Over the years, Instagram has had some pushback from the Car Dealer community. However, with its simple, visually-focused feed that allows you to give followers an inside peek at your inventory and showroom, we have always found it fascinating that more Dealers and internet managers haven’t hopped onto this social network.
Additionally, as Instagram has only continued to gain in users over the last five years, we have seen a shift of Millenials (ages 30 – 40) leaving Facebook, now known as Meta, while remaining active on or joining Instagram.
Still not convinced?
In 2022, a review of user activity found that 50% of Instagram users visit a website after seeing it in Stories, and 70% of shoppers look to Instagram for their next purchase. Oh, and need I mention that the average CPC for an ad is only $1.23? Yes, really!
Here are some things you should start doing now on Instagram:
- Like Facebook (Meta), you need to post more frequently if you aren’t putting money behind your posts for view and engagement.
- Share your posts to Stories. Stories only last once a day, so posting once every 24 hours is advised.
- Create Highlights with old stories.
- Add Hashtags, Brand content tags, and product tags to your posts.
- ADVERTISE! Why? Instagram is owned by Meta, and therefore both social channels use the exact same ad creation platform. You can easily set up ads for both of these platforms at the same time!
- Yes, you need to create separate ad creative for Instagram. Some will get in there and say, “Wow, I can check the Instagram box and build one ad for both places.” Why is this a bad idea? Because the image sizes needed are not the same, so ads that look great in one spot will look like garbage on another platform.
Google Business Profile, the platform formerly known as Google My Business
Google Business Profiles have become an essential part of digital marketing for any business, including your dealership. It’s often the first thing people see when they Google your dealership’s name, so it’s essential to keep it well-maintained.
Part of that grooming routine now includes publishing a social post via this platform at least once a week – per Google’s own best practices guidelines. It’s a relatively straightforward platform that can keep your dealership’s social media well-rounded as there are often opportunities to cross-post between your social media channels.
You can use three types of posts to promote your business pages, providing unique calls to action for your customers.
Offers posts provide promotional sales or offers from your business. Offers posts are specifically unique for the ability to set a start and end date for the promotion. In addition, a “View Offer” button is added to the post as a CTA, giving it a unique look compared to the other post styles to add a sense of urgency. You can also include a photo, video, description, coupon code, link, terms, conditions, or any combination of the above. Offers appear near the top of the Business Profile on Google Search and Maps. They also appear with all other posts in the “Updates” tab.
Next is the “What’s New” post type. These posts provide general information or updates about your dealership or service department. You can include a photo or video, a description, and an action button.
Lastly, in “Events” posts, you can promote an event you plan to host. Events require a title, start and end dates, and a time. If your event doesn’t have a specific start or end date, the system will default to 24 hours from the date it’s posted. You can also include a photo, video, description, and an action button with different verbiage if you so choose. For example, Truck Month can start at the beginning of the month and end a few days into the next. You can then add a CTA button linking to your site that gives even more information about the event details. Events may also show on the “Overview” tab of the Business Profile to make them more prominent to customers.
Reap the SEO Benefits of your Google Business Profile Posts
The social component of your Google Business Profile is the perfect blend of social and SEO and demonstrates the value of having a holistic digital marketing plan for your dealership. Beyond the additional exposure you get from your Google Business Profile posts, posting often can improve search engine rankings when you use a variety of keywords relevant to your dealership.
For example, Google Business Profiles often populate at the top of the results when customers search for your business. You want to make sure YOUR profile is the one that shows at the top, not your competition’s. When we’ve helped dealerships that have neglected their GBPs and optimized their profiles by adding weekly posts and sprucing up the page info, we have seen increases of over 50% in search query results, phone calls, and clicks to the web.
Why Pinterest should be in packages for Social Media for Car Dealerships.
The image-based board creation platform has long been seen as a DIY, recipe, and inspiration social platform. Unfortunately, it has not been seen as a resource for direct ROI for dealerships. However, it has significantly improved its advertising, and 72% say Pinterest inspires them to shop when they aren’t looking for anything. Much like Facebook, Pinterest has plug-ins for better targeting. Since its user base is over 75% female, you could open your store up to more of the household decision-makers. Keep that in mind when creating content for Pinterest and the ads.
One area that would be beneficial for your dealership is using Pinterest to share your content pages. Pinterest outbound links are No-Follow, but the traffic is often good quality. When pining your pages, you can optimize for keywords that may allow you to show several results. Don’t just label your pins car or Toyota Highlander. Try being more descriptive, such as “Fashionable SUV, Stylish interior, etc.” Get creative.
How to create a Social Media Marketing plan for Automotive.
Whether you choose to do some or all the social platforms, you need to create a structured plan and stick to it. One of the biggest pitfalls dealerships get into is not being consistent. One of the easiest ways around drop-off is to plan and schedule.
Step 1: Plan what content is acceptable for each platform.
You will rarely find that posting cars for sale every day will yield great results. So it’s important to mix it up and share a variety of things like local events, industry updates, and some promotions. Figuring out your content strategy might take a few weeks to find your rhythm, but you will start to see what content is engaged with most. In all honesty, your cars might get the least amount of engagement, but you should keep testing out ways to make those posts engaging.
Step 2: Schedule it out.
Most of your social media tools have a scheduling feature. This is a great way to sit down and get your brain into content creation mode rather than winging it at the moment. A big issue we hear dealers and internet managers complain about is they have nothing to post, but they know they need to. The planning and scheduling give you time to find resources you can return to, such as Chamber of commerce events, local news channels, and even historical automotive sites. By giving yourself a buffer of time, you are never under the gun to create, and if you do have an urgent post that needs to go up, you can push things out.
Step 3: Determine how many times you need to post.
As we stated before, if you are not using a budget to promote your posts, you should post once a day. The amount of content being added each day makes it hard to get eyes on your social media posts. If you use a budget, you can wait a day or two in between each post before scheduling your next post.
Ads are a different story; it’s essential to give your ads a reasonable amount of time to gather data and tell you when to create new ones. Understanding the Social Platforms’ KPIs will help you to determine when to swap. Look for the cost per click compared to the number of clicks and impressions. If things start looking less than the best, it could be that the content, targeting, and the creative are not hitting their mark. Don’t be afraid to A/B test your creative and content to find what combination of these elements works best for your advertising needs.
Step 4: Sprinkle in some social-only offers
Once you have a following and know how to craft your message for the best results, you can try out social-only offers as a “thank you” to those who follow while simultaneously encouraging more users to keep up with your social page. Start small with maybe a discount code for service or one free detailing if you mention seeing our ad. This could be something they show or mention in-store, or the ad can direct users to a landing page with an offer so you can track how many people are seeing the special. Don’t forget to mention this to the sale and service staff: keeping everyone in the loop is just as important as the offer itself.
Step 5: Measure and evaluate
This is probably the most challenging part of marketing, calculating ROI. More often than not, we like to look at the simple numbers of total amount spent equals the number of sales. However, this can be much harder in automotive due to offline purchases. So while evaluating the results on the social media platform, it is also essential to look at your Google analytics metrics.
Some key details to consider are: how many sessions were there? How long was the session duration? Were there any Goals or conversions? Did any customers mention the offers? Remember, the campaign’s unique goal can mean the metrics to measure will also be different. For example, in the case of a campaign meant to drive traffic, there might not be many direct conversions. However, the goal is to attract new shoppers and get them interested in your product or brand, so don’t get too hung up on a lower number of conversions for these campaigns.
For a shop ad or traffic converting ad, you will want a higher goal completion or conversion rate. But these types of campaigns may have a higher bounce rate and lower time on site. So you may ask, “Why bother with the ads solely dedicated to driving traffic, why not only do lead generating campaigns? The simple answer is cost and time.
If you only focus on shoppers ready to buy now, you may have a more challenging time getting them to choose your dealership over others. In addition, this type of advertising forces you to have to barter on price. These shoppers are also more expensive to engage with than other audiences because everyone is also trying to snag their attention.
However, if you start at the top of the shopping funnel and continue to engage as the customer moves through discovery, research, and then purchase, you will have an easier time getting them to convert to your ads vs. those from other dealerships. You would have exposed the shopper to your brand over an extended period of time with ads and “why buy” messaging that allows you to build value and be top of mind when it comes time to shop. Once you get a shopper to your site, you can also retarget them through this journey, which, in turn, can make the ad cost cheaper in the long run.
If these strategies are interesting to you and you would like to learn more about social media marketing for car dealers, reach out and we can answer questions regarding what metrics you should be measuring and ads that will match your goals.