automotive industry gets results from social media

I. Introduction

Social media marketing in automotive industry has become a commoditized idea. Every dealership is doing it in some way or other. But only a handful get the desired results.

There is a wide gap between the dealerships that understand the social media landscape and the ones that are simply copying what they see on social media. And there is nothing wrong with imitating some marketing tactics if it gives you results. But, unfortunately, since most dealerships do not get their desired results with auto dealership social media marketing, they often blame the platform instead of optimizing the strategy.

It is clear – the conversation has to shift. Dealerships that want to explore the full potential of social media have to begin a transformative journey. And our observation shows – it is not that difficult to implement an effective social media strategy that delivers results.

II. Evaluating Results for Auto Dealership Social Media Marketing

Before we start analyzing your auto dealership social media marketing strategy, let’s focus on building the framework to perform such an objective analysis.

1. Attract: Enable Discovery for Strangers

Try to imagine a stranger who does not know anything about the physical existence of your dealership. How would you make sure your business is discoverable for this stranger? Conventional thinking would suggest you to go broad – focus on radio, print, and TV. Instead, you should focus on organic discovery. What are the relevant problems you are solving that your competitors have missed? You answer that and make it clear in your social media marketing communication, and you automatically become a more discoverable dealership.

2. Engage: Generate Intent and Nudge Conversion

For instance – imagine a customer who plans to buy a car and drive it for at least 5-7 years. She would not be necessarily excited by the two free services you provide in the first year. But, if she knows you have a reliable team of technicians who can fix her car anytime in a week, she would lean more towards buying from you.

Solving such problems shifts your communication plan to one of creative value. And instead of selling cars, like several other dealerships in your local market, you sell a unique value proposition. This is the move from aggressive selling to automotive social selling.

3. Delight: Inspire Loyalty

Most marketing and sales funnels end at the point where a lead is converted. But this new school of thought focuses on inspiring loyalty and converting customers into brand advocates. This goal can be attained by adjusting and enhancing the relevance of your post-sales services – refinancing, servicing, on-the-road assistance, etc. If you are selling used cars, such factors can help you further differentiate your dealership.

4. Repeat: Flywheel vs Funnel

Taking it a step further – you can stop focusing on the funnel altogether. Instead, visualize the ‘attract – convert – delight’ phases into a continuous process. This ensures that you maintain uniformity in your marketing message, no matter where your lead is in the conversion cycle.

update automotive industry social media strategy

12 Metrics to Measure Auto Dealership Social Media Marketing Results

While frameworks and mental models are remarkable to get started, they cannot fuel your entire automotive social selling strategy. To get the results you desire, you have to measure and optimize your marketing efforts frequently. And this can be an altogether new challenge.

Here are 12 metrics you can measure to identify the effectiveness of your auto dealership social media marketing strategy:

1. Social Media Mentions for Brand Awareness

This is a simple measure of how many times is your dealership’s brand organically mentioned on social media. It will not include the replies, comments, or responses to prompts. You can use dedicated third-party tools or search for ‘@brandname’ on the social media platform to measure the metric.

2. Audience Growth

Avoid the cardinal error – you are not trying to measure the number of new followers you added last month. Instead, you are trying to measure the speed at which you added the followers last month. Ideally, this growth rate should be higher than the industry average.

3. Reach

This is one of the oldest metrics and is applicable even in social media marketing for automotive industry. Take the total number of views for your post and divide it by the number of followers you have. It shows the theoretically maximum number of eyeballs your post can capture.

4. Share of Voice

Once you have calculated the social media mentions for your dealership, perform the same exercise for your nearest competitors. Add all these numbers. Now, divide your social media mentions by this figure, and you will have a broad idea of the share of voice in percentage terms.

5. Social Sharing Rate or Amplification

This metric was popularized by Avinash Kaushik, the former Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google. You are trying to measure the total strength of your network. Assuming you have ten followers and each follower has ten further followers, you have a total reach of 100 people. You can measure amplification by measuring the sharing rate of your posts. We will later see how the different terminology gives better insights.

6. Average Likes or Applauses

Building on the same idea, Kaushik further introduced the idea of applauses. These are the likes of ‘+1’ given to your posts across social media platforms. So when people search for your dealership, they will see such ‘applauses’ given by the people in their network. Hence, it is much more than a like. It is quite literally a form of social validation.

7. Share Per Impression

Get the total number of shares and divided it by the total reach you have for your posts. This will show how relevant are your posts for your audience. Use it to course-correct your auto dealership social media marketing strategy.

8. CTR and Conversion

These are more straightforward and more common metrics to measure. If you are running paid campaigns, you might already have such data points available. CTR is the percentage of people who clicked on your post/ad after seeing it out of the total number of people who saw the same post/ad. And conversion is the eventual purchase percentage out of the number of people who saw your post.

9. CPC, CPA, and CPM

Your marketing team might already have this data available. This is the first time cost comes into the picture. CPC stands for cost per click, CPA is the cost per acquisition, and CPM is the cost per mile. CPA would be the largest per unit figure among the three. Make sure you compare these costs against local business as well as industry benchmarks.

10. Conversions Per Platform

Between YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Clubhouse, LinkedIn, and Pinterest – you have nine different platforms. You cannot have effective results on all the platforms. So, track the conversions per channel to understand where you should allocate more resources.

11. Net Promoter Scores

You can calculate by sending out a survey asking customers how likely they are to recommend your dealership in their social circle. Then, divide the scores into the following categories:

  • 0-6: Detractors
  • 7-8: Passive Supporters
  • 9-10: Promoters or Brand Advocates

The percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors will give you your Net Promoter Score.

12. Response Lead Time

This metric measures your efficiency of responding to prospects. Filter the comments where customers were asking for your help. Then, find the average time your team took in responding to such customers. Remember – social media is public. If you do not address these high-intent leads, an active competitor will.

III. The Changing Face of Social Media Marketing in Automotive Industry

change automotive industry social media marketing

We are in the third act now! Finally, we have the proper framework and the right set of metrics to ensure your automotive social selling plans pay off. Now, to add more tangible expertise to the recommendations, here are some examples where automotive brands used some of the tactics mentioned here and got incredible results.

1. Genesis G70: 1400% Increase in Average CTR

Genesis is a new brand. Conventional marketing would suggest that it should focus on generating interest. But, the marketing team looked deeper and discovered that intent was already present. The dealer network was still growing. And hence, somehow, the team had to qualify this large set of leads.

So, they created a car configurator that worked exclusively on Instagram stories. Its target audience members, who were already aware of the brand and its upcoming model, could go to the story and configure their desired car without even leaving the story.

The program resulted in about 7.9 million impressions and a CTR, which was 1400% higher than the brand’s conventional marketing initiatives.

Key Takeaway: Focus on what your target audience already knows and how it behaves. The closer you are to this environment, the lower cost per acquisition you will experience.

2. Volvo: 70% Annual Growth in Sales with Intelligent Responses

Imagine this – Volvo is launching XC60. And, it’s the Super Bowl season. So, what’s the easiest way for it to generate brand awareness? By running a Super Bowl ad. Right? Nope.

The problem with that approach, like most other tactics in social media marketing in automotive industry, is that it is quite expensive. Besides, it does not make the leads trackable.

So, the brand decided to take a different approach. It prompted its fans on Twitter to tag a friend with #VolvoContest. Five tagged winners stood a chance to win XC60 for free. The only condition was that all such tweets must be sent out when a competing automotive brand’s Super Bowl ad was live.

Volvo started prompting for the initiative a week in advance. During the Super Bowl ads, it sent out automated responses to fans who had tagged their friends. The initiative generated 116,000 visits for the Volvo website and a 70% growth in year-on-year sales for the month.

Key Takeaway: Your brand advocates are more valuable than the most expensive channels. Work with them to push your brand out.

want a dedicated influencer army

3. Lexus: Hyper Focused Targeting for 16x Engagement Against Industry Standards

Remember how we talked about attracting and engaging users? Lexus created a case study for the industry to implement the recommendation. First, it used Facebook’s target audience data to define audience groups based on several combinations of demographics, interests, location, and even vehicle preferences. Based on this, it created hundreds of iterations for a simple ad. Each iteration matched a specific user’s profile of interests.

For instance – assume that a female user likes technology, and so does a male user. The only difference is that the female user drives a BMW and the male user drives a Lexus. The campaign was designed such that they would see materially different ads.

The hyper-targeting made Lexus’ lead acquisition 300% more efficient and a 16x greater engagement rate than the industry averages.

Key Takeaway: Replicate what your target audience likes with your automotive social selling activities.

4. BMW: Giveaways for 89% Follower Growth

Freebies are not the healthiest way to grow your follower base. But, if you have to do it, you should break away from the clutter. BMW was launching M5 for its 30th anniversary. So the brand decided to organize a giveaway. It transformed its Instagram account into an auto dealership for a few days.

Each day, it posted an image of the car with one digit. On the fifth day, when all the digits were put together, it made a phone number. People interested in buying the limited edition car could call the number and book it. And, the brand sold all the limited edition models in less than 60 seconds and got 89% new followers.

Key Takeaway: Focus on relevant differentiation in social media marketing for the automotive industry. That way, even if you execute conventional tactics, you will have enough info to make your execution unique.

5. Chevrolet: Creative Layouts for 141% Better Performance

If your ads have reach, but the engagement is not matching industry standards, what do you do? This is one of those cases where your marketing initiative might not deliver results even if you have tried to differentiate at the strategic level. Chevrolet created layout-level differentiation.

The brand designed ads that used CGI to make it seem like one of its newly launched cars was running across a user’s feed. Based on the user data available on Instagram Ads, the trim for the car in the ad would be customized. The initiative performed 141% better than most of the brand’s other programs.

Key Takeaway: You don’t have to change your brand to differentiate your appeal. Make sure you understand what your users experience on each platform. Then, take the insights for your best-performing channels, and use them to create post-level differentiation.

IV. In Conclusion

Brands take up creative approaches to make their auto dealership social media marketing strategy work. While it might seem like the work of a genius, most of it is based on a repeatable process. Treat your social media marketing initiatives like a flywheel and not someone-off funnel. And measure the relevant metrics to get an idea of how you are performing and where you are lagging.

While these ideas can boost your social media performance, there is one sure-shot way to get a strategic advantage over your competition – employee advocacy. Leverage the power of your employees by making them your brand advocates. Inrelay can help you invite your employees to become your social media ambassadors, provide them with necessary content to be posted on different platforms, and measure performance of such initiatives.

With more than 70% of employees agreeing to be a part of such initiatives, employee advocacy can bring exponential growth to your automotive social selling programs. If that sounds exciting, get in touch with one of our experts and get a free Inrelay trial by clicking here.


An average dealership can have anywhere between a dozen to hundreds of employees. Each employee will have a particular social media following. And each social media platform they use will have costs and benefits attached to it. Inrelay simplifies this problem by helping you create Custom Content Categories before you distribute them. This way, different employees can post different content on a different platform – while everything ties up neatly to one marketing strategy.

One of the biggest advantages of using Inrelay over conventional marketing channels like print and radio is absolute visibility in your results. You can measure the acceptance rate of your employee advocacy program invites. Alongside this, you get access to detailed reports that show the effectiveness of your employee advocacy program.
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April 2024