Just weeks into 2018, the social media landscape was rocked by major news from Facebook that the world’s largest social network is downgrading organic content from brands. As Facebook announced, its algorithm is making posts from users’ friends and family more prominent in users’ news feeds, and content from brands less prominent. The news was a reminder to any brand, including auto dealerships, that being on social media requires constant monitoring and a willingness to adapt. As your dealership takes stock of your digital brand, keep in mind the following three tips for upping your social game in 2018:

Be Personal

The most important question to ask yourself is this: how well do your own people represent your dealership on social media? The purchase of a vehicle comes down to people — to one person on the lot shaking hands with another person. Does everyone at your dealership feel encouraged and empowered to discuss your brand on their personal socials, including their Facebook and LinkedIn pages? Do they have guidelines, and do you feed them useful content and ideas to inspire them?

For example, Rick “Honda Rick” Kruger at Don Ayres Honda in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is an active user of social media. As he told us recently, he uses Facebook as an online extension of his customer relationship building:

“After we’ve gone through delivery, I have a conversation about Facebook with the customer (“Hey we should be friends! Friend me on Facebook.”) While they’re waiting for the business office, we take out our phones and connect. Then at the very end of the delivery process on the lot, I do a Facebook Live video thanking the customer and showing people what they purchased. I ask them on camera how their experience was, and they tell me live for all their friends to see!”

Rick is an excellent example of a personal brand ambassador who is creating personal connections with buyers through social, as well as providing a glimpse into how he injects “fun” into the car buying process. With Facebook’s recent changes to downgrade branded content, empowering your employees to create and share content is more important now than ever.

Be Visible on Facebook

Being personal is great for building relationships through a dealership’s network of employees. But to raise awareness for new product launches, sales, and other events – as well as stay in front of in-market shoppers and drive traffic to your dealership – paid social is an excellent choice.

Facebook creates an opportunity to be visible, relevant, and engaging where consumers are spending their time. According to Facebook’s Q4 2017 earnings, there are more than 2.13 billion monthly active Facebook users and the average time spent per visit is 20 minutes.

Facebook provides excellent ad targeting abilities by allowing you to segment your audience as well as create custom audiences, through retargeting. Facebook also recently launched a dedicated Marketplace section for used vehicles, allowing dealerships to connect their inventory to consumers on the platform (Cars.com is participating in this beta by sharing inventory for select dealer customers).

Advertising – both on desktop and mobile – is Facebook’s bread-and-butter business for good reason. Consider paid social for raising awareness and driving traffic to your dealership – and then rely on your brand ambassadors to build relationships.

Be Visual

We live in a visual age. Video content represents 74 percent of all internet traffic, and people upload 1.8 billion images daily to social media sites. In addition, eighty-two percent of consumers tell us they find photos to be useful in online reviews. Your dealership needs to speak the language of the Instagram and YouTube generation. For example, Germain Cadillac of Easton showcases its product with striking close-ups of its inventory. Consequently, Germain gives Instagrammers a glimpse of what’s in store when they visit the lot. And  Bernard Motorcar Company uses visual humor and guest posts from local celebrities to engage its audience – creating unexpected moments of surprise and delight.

In addition, YouTube provides a great opportunity to give potential customers a better sense of your inventory and dealership experience. For example, Honda Rick hosts his own YouTube channel and creates videos to educate customers on specific MMYs as well as demonstrate features and showcase inventory. With more than 1,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, he is creating opportunities for consumers to connect with him – as well as inventory – before they step onto the lot.

The 4Ps of Automotive Marketing™

Consumers have redefined the concept of “place” in the 4Ps of Automotive Marketing (product, price, place, and person). Your lot remains the most important place for consumers to be. But they visit many digital places on their way to your lot, including social media. Make sure that you are there in those moments that matter along the way, to create awareness of your dealership and the inventory on your lot as well as the people that work there.

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