Social Media is one of the most effective means of targeting customers – and turning them off – today. Like automotive direct mail, social media communications from your dealership reach customers where they are. Only, unlike automotive direct mail, social media communications reach targets at work, at home, at school and in the palm of their hand! How much more personal can it get.
So, that begs the question – what are your social media messages saying to customers? Are they personal or are they just chatter? On Facebook and Twitter, if you’re just sending out messages on a constant basis that are in no way either targeting or engaging your potential customer base, not only do you run the risk of being ignored, you run a very real risk of being blocked and forever black-listed.
Ok, that’s a bit harsh. But, that doesn’t make it any less true. Nowhere do you run a higher risk of being dubbed annoying than on social media. If you want to advertise, by all means advertise, but consider how you’re going about it. If yours is a true marketing message, consider buying an actual ad or a Sponsored post, for example. If you want to spark a dialogue, that’s the time to post updates that land directly in your consumers’ newsfeeds.
One tested and truly effective way to engage customers and advertise to them at the same time in the social media realm is with a contest. We’ve all seen the “Like/Share” phenomenon on Facebook by now. The advertiser posts a photo and tells consumers that if they like the post and subsequently share it, they’ll be entered into a contest to win something special. And, the best part about this is that, assuming the thing you’re giving away is special enough, not only will that get some love from the customer who has already followed you on Facebook, it runs the potential of winning you more likes from their friends and their friends and so on.
Another great way to engage customers is with a social media survey. You can either use Facebook’s interface and create a survey right on your dealership page there or you can post a link to an online survey microsite or something even more bare bones via a third party site like SurveyMonkey. The great benefit of this is not only are you giving your customers an opportunity to share their likes and dislikes with you – you’re getting valuable information to inform your future outreach and advertising efforts – for free!
Just remember, because social media is completely personal and “in your face”, you have to be very judicious on how you choose to use it. Make sure your communications aren’t relentless, that they’re always relevant, that they aren’t too repetitive and that you’re using all of the various bells and whistles at your disposal to keep them varied and interesting. Post videos to test drives with exciting new inventory. Set up surveys. Promote contests. Ask for feedback. Promote different pieces of your business, including inventory and service and limit your posts to just a few every day or less. That way, you’re a welcome addition to your customers’ online life.