Automotive social media is hands down, by far the easiest way to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time. I would debate that with anyone taking whatever marketing methodology they’d like.

The good news is that there are so many great options available on sites like Facebook to get the message out there through properly targeted advertising. The better news is that so few dealers and vendors know about it. The best news is that the number of companies that have truly mastered the art and science behind social media advertising is so small, chances are very strong that you’ll be way ahead of the competition just by reading this article. Thankfully, these are all doors that are not too hard to open once you know how to make it happen.

The reality of the situation is that the number of methods of advertising, when you break it down to different targeting types and campaign goals, is pretty darn close to limitless. We’ve broken down the top seven that we utilize for our clients, but there are more that we’ve seen work and more that are being discovered regularly. Unlike most advertising and marketing venues, social media mastery requires an understanding of the science that holds it together and the art that drives it forward. Having one or the other is not enough to have real success and tangible ROI.

Here are the top 7 in no particular order:

Local Shopper Targeting

Those who are utilizing unpublished posts on Facebook have likely taken a stab at this form of advertising. The idea is that you take the hand-raisers within driving distance to the dealership and present them with ads that are designed to drive them to the inventory, specials pages, or landing pages on the dealer’s website. The trackable ROI behind this door is tremendous; we’ve seen campaigns that send unique visitors, real car buyers, directly into the dealer’s website inventory for less than $1 per shopper.

Even with highly targeted “niche” campaigns, the cost rarely exceeds $1.50 per click. These niche campaigns are usually very specific – targeting people who have indicated that they intend to buy a new Nissan Altima in the near future, for example.

Customer Database Targeting

You have names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. You’re probably sending them emails in a CRM drip campaign or occasional mailers reminding them to come back to the dealership to service their vehicles. What you’re probably not doing is targeting them on Facebook with customer appreciation ads, early lease-return specials, or customer loyalty events at the dealership. Social media is more cost-effective for making this happen than even the cheap email (that gets cut off by spam filters a good chunk of the time, leaving you absent from your past customers’ lives).

Don’t even get me started on the conquest potential if you have a valid email list.

Event Promotions

You have sales events. You participate in charitable events. You have new models coming off the truck for the first time. All of these and many more things that happen at your dealership regularly are ideal situations for which you can utilize event promotions on social media.

We’ve seen annual sales events that broke records despite shifting money away from television and radio and into social media promotion for the event. In one excellent case, the television ads didn’t get plugged in by the ad agency in time, so the dealership was forced to go “social only” with their offsite event. The results: the most cars sold at this annual event since the launch of the dealership in the 90s.

Coupons and Specials

This is one of those types of social media campaigns that many have tried, but that few have utilized properly. Facebook offers tremendous reach and interaction potential, but most campaigns we’ve seen have fallen well short of expectations. It’s one of the situation on here where the messaging is just as important as reach. Putting a message in front of 10,000 locals still won’t yield results of the messaging is incorrect.

It’s great for service as well. By promoting specials in service to a wide audience, you can pull in many of the people who would never have considered doing business with you in the past had they not seen the special or coupon on social media.

Owner Targeting

It’s great to target people who want to buy a particular vehicle, but what about the people who already own one? Even if you weren’t the dealership that sold them the car in the first place, you’ll be able to find the people within driving distance who own a Chevy Silverado and put messages in front of them regarding service, specials, and factory owner loyalty programs (planted on the dealership website, of course).

PROPER Growth Campaigns

There’s a right way and several wrong ways to try to improve your following on social media. The right way is pure, transparent, and free from silly “like us” incentives. The wrong ways can be damaging, especially considering the way that Facebook is cracking down on such practices.

With a proper growth strategy, you’re going for quality first, quantity second. That’s not to say that you’re not going to be targeting a bunch of people, but you don’t want fake or disinterested people liking your page. Their presence can actually damage the ability of your page to properly present the message to the people that need to see it.

Engagement Campaigns

It comes full circle. When I developed my first social media advertising campaigns in 2010, this was the primary goal. We wanted to improve branding, communication, and public relations through social media for our clients. Today, the value is lowered but it’s still present and worthwhile. You want strong engagement on your social pages.

Just like with most things on the list, there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. Unlike growth strategies, there’s not a single criteria that needs to be met in order to be considered successful. We are against engagement for the sake of engagement; I’ve been quoted many times about not posting funny cat pictures on your pages and thankfully the message seems to have hit home. I still see it from time to time, but it’s less prominent.