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Utilizing The Power Of Social Media | DrivingSales News

Utilizing The Power Of Social Media

December 18, 2015 0 Comments

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Social media marketing is rapidly evolving. Early on, it was a risky strategy that was used primarily by cutting-edge businesses who wanted to step outside of standard advertising platforms in an attempt to gain a communicative advantage over the competition. However, as more platforms became available and the number of users exploded, social marketing turned into an essential component of advertising strategies for the majority of businesses to grow.

Certainly, social media platforms recognize the massive power of the information that they have access to, and although organic, non-paid marketing remains a viable avenue for car dealerships, paid social advertising has become much more popular in recent times. Social networks are offering increasingly robust ad types with sophisticated targeting options that allow companies to zone in on the consumers that are most likely to help them build their brand effectively.

There’s no question organic social marketing remains an important part of a dealership’s strategy. At the same time, considering the relatively inexpensive paid advertising opportunities that are now available on the major networks, it may be time to allocate some of your marketing budget to increase the social media reach of your brand.

But where should you start? Which platforms are most effective? Is organic content sufficient or should it be combined with paid advertisements?

These are important yet difficult questions to answer, and it can initially be overwhelming to determine where and how to develop an effective social media presence for your dealership.

Traditional advertising has been relatively simple for car dealers in the past. The majority of Americans purchase several cars in their lives, making television and billboard advertising to large groups effective. While this continues to make sense, dealerships are now able to target their customers with laser precision by bringing social media into their overall marketing strategy.

The first method is organic reach, which can be achieved by creating content on social media platforms that is subsequently shared by your potential customers. This requires serious creativity and perseverance, but the eventual payoffs can be massive. By getting people to share content for you, you can experience the very best that word-of-mouth advertising has to offer, allowing you to build a personal relationship with consumers to develop a powerful brand.

Secondly, you can take advantage of paid social media ads, which are an extremely influential tool. For example, if you want to target 24-38 year old men who are making more than $80,000 per year and are living within a 50 mile radius of San Francisco, social media’s powerful data and targeting tools can put your ads where this demographic is most likely to see them and potentially share them with others as well. When you combine this with the flexibility to try out simultaneous campaigns and alter them on the fly, it becomes increasingly clear that car dealerships can benefit greatly from social media.

As with any type of marketing, a good strategy begins with understanding the preferences and habits of your customers and then choosing the platforms that are most likely to influence them in their future purchases. For example, if your dealership sells a lot of trucks to businesses, it may make sense to build a B2B presence on LinkedIn. However, if you sell directly to a lot of customers in their 20s, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are likely to get you a much better ROI. An important factor to keep in mind when developing social media campaigns is that you’ll never be chained to any strategy that you implement, so it’s essential to closely monitor the effect of your social content and paid advertising and to adjust your tactics as you learn what works best for your specific audience.

Facebook has the largest user base of all the social media platforms, with an incredible 1.39 billion monthly active users. An impressive 70 percent of its users log in daily, and the average cost-per-impressions (CPM) is $1.54. The network is particularly popular with younger consumers, with 75.6 percent of its users in the millennial age group. It features two options for paid ads: as a sponsored post in the News Feed, or in the right-hand column. As the biggest of the social networks, and with the most options for targeting, Facebook remains a crucial component of most social media campaigns.

One of the advantages of Twitter is that many people like to Tweet while watching TV, so marketers are able to create “two-screen” campaigns that combine television ads with the social network. However, because users do not need to use their real names or reveal many personal details about themselves, the possibilities for effective targeting are not as robust as those on Facebook. Twitter has 288 million monthly active users, and the average CPM is $12.16. The platform has three options for paid advertising: Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends.

Although YouTube has 1 billion monthly active users and is able to hold people’s attention for a long time, most viewers do not like pre-roll advertisements and very often skip them. Additionally, because brands cannot request a specific slot, there is a risk that their ad will play before a video that doesn’t fit well with the company’s image. Regardless, the platform has great potential when used effectively, with some brands experiencing broad reach with either paid ads or with their own engaging video content. There are four options for ads on the site: display ads next to or below the YouTube player; semi-transparent overlay ads that appear over the bottom 20 percent of a video; skippable video ads that can be inserted either before, in the middle, or after a video, and non-skippable ads that must be viewed before the video is displayed.

Instagram may be an effective choice for brands that have strong visuals, however, its ad offerings are still relatively new and will presumably develop further in the coming period. LinkedIn is a great way to connect to a professional audience with accurate information about their lives, but users do not log on to the site as often as other networks, making it a more limited option for most companies.

Pinterest remains another viable choice for dealerships, as users come to the site in a mood that is receptive to shopping. The network’s Promoted Pins ad type can be utilized to reach the estimated 20-30 million active users on the social platform.

Snapchat features highly engaged users who need to actively press a button to view a story, so advertisers must ensure that attention is not wavering. The platform is less clear from a cost perspective, with Adweek reporting that advertising on a “my story” could cost brands $750,000 per day, although this is unconfirmed by Snapchat.

To some, the world of social media appears to be an ambiguous place where resources vanish toward unseen ends. However, once you learn how to translate the data, the high level of connection and brand awareness that can be achieved becomes clearer. First, it’s essential to understand that clicks, likes and shares have meaning and value as they illustrate that users are responding to your content or advertising. This quantifiable engagement will translate into higher Google search rankings for your website, in addition to driving both organic and paid traffic there. You can see the direct results of your social media investment by using the Google Webmaster Tools data that indicates where visitors to your site are coming from, as well as the demographics of people that are making purchases or appointments. This information will help you to calculate social media ROI and will help you to appreciate the fact that higher traffic ultimately translates into more sales. However, the majority of social media marketing strategies take months for their effects to be fully realized, so patience is an essential aspect of determining a viable campaign.

Many dealerships excel at using social media marketing to generate customer engagement and lead generation. A lot of people see their cars as reflections of themselves, making social media an incredibly powerful marketing tool for the auto industry overall. People use social platforms to express themselves and to share the things that they love, so cars are a very natural fit.

According to a CMO Council report on social analytics within the auto industry, it is the passion behind car buying that translates so well over to social networking sites. The study found that 23 percent of car buyers use social media to discuss or communicate a recent purchase experience, while 38 percent of consumers say that they’ll consult social media the next time that they purchase a vehicle. An impressive 84 percent of all car shoppers are on Facebook, with 24 percent indicating they used the networking site as a resource for purchasing their last vehicle.

Although some may feel that it is complex hidden meanings or connotations that get people engaged on social media, it appears that sometimes users are actually more interested in the physical cars. “It’s the cars themselves that drive the most social buzz and excitement,” said Rob Milne, the North American director of marketing operations for Mazda. “When we get into some of the more human aspects, there’s a little less interest. When we’re showcasing the product, the technology, photos of our engines ­– that’s when people get excited.”

Conversely, there are times when thinking outside of the box is the key to creating a highly successful social media campaign.

Dodge’s Dart Registry campaign is one such example. The automaker used social media sites to grow their marketing strategy, which allowed consumers to pick the features that they wanted on their Dart and then let friends and family members sponsor/fund parts. The concept was a combination of a traditional wedding registry and crowdfunding, while the social media component that made the campaign so successful worked in conjunction with birthdays. If a person was listed in the Dart Registry, people who posted a birthday note on their Facebook wall were then reminded that it’s easy to fund a part of their car as a gift. Thousands of people signed up for the Dart Registry and the campaign is now frequently used as a successful marketing case study.

Mini’s NOT NORMAL social media campaign was a massive success in 2014, winning multiple industry awards and allowing the brand to connect with an entirely new audience. The company simply asked users to upload images and videos to Tumblr or to share with the hashtag #MININOTNORMAL. The automaker then used their favorite contributions as part of their campaign. Within six weeks, a staggering 230,000 people engaged with the campaign on social media, 2,217 pieces of content were shared, approximately 30,000 new followers and fans were gained, and 3,853 people visited the campaign hub to look for a new Mini.

It’s amazing to look back over the past ten years to see how far social networking has come. Just when it appears to have reached its peak, a new website comes along or an existing platform creates something new to rejuvenate interest and expand the very concept of social media. Although the power of social platforms lies in the person-to-person connections between users, the ability for brands and advertisers to monetize and sustain these networks cannot be ignored.

The auto industry overall has experienced incredible success with social media campaigns to date, with no end in sight. Certainly, there’s no better time than now for dealers to realize the power of social media by developing creative content and ads that engage users, further the awareness of their brand, and entice consumers to create word-of-mouth advertising by expanding the reach of marketing dollars through the incomparable influence of social sharing.

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.

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