Social media marketing for the automotive industry is a lucrative medium. It can help brands generate leads, create awareness, and collect feedback. But, it can be tricky.
Statista shows how media companies have the most engaging accounts on social media. The Shade Room, a large media company, generated over 3.3 billion engagements in one year. What can be the reason behind this meteoric performance? Media companies post engaging content that either provides entertainment or solves customer problems.
The insight is relevant for brands, especially automobile dealerships. You have to offer value-delivering content. Then, amplify your voice with automotive social selling using a platform that enables a structured approach. But, before we jump into that, let’s peel off the most common mistakes made by brands on social media.
3 Automotive Social Selling Mistakes Often Made
You are competing for a very limited attention span. How can you win? First, avoid making these mistakes.
1. Unstructured Planning and Broad Targeting
Here is a simple framework to understand whether you have a broad targeting problem:
- Do you have a structured plan for creating, posting, and promoting content on social media platforms?
- How do you define the target audience for all this content?
- How do you know if the content is yielding results or not?
By answering these three questions, you will know whether you have an effective social media strategy or not. The question ‘a’ pushes you to understand the basis of your plan. Content calendars that push generic content usual underperform.
Similarly, defining your audience as people aged between 18 to 29 is too broad. Apparently, 70% of people in this age group use Instagram, but all of them cannot be your audience. You have to narrow your audience by geography, interests, and purchasing power. Use the data of your most frequent buyers to define your audience on social media. Alongside this, use tools like Facebook Lookalike Audience to find a broader but relevant target market.
Lastly, make a list of your competing brands by industry, locality, and target audience similarity. Compare your results with theirs.
2. Stuffing Irrelevant Terms
Now have a clear idea of whether your social media program is working or not. A simple but often misused strategy to deal with this is using hashtags.
Now, platforms like Instagram allow for as many as 30 hashtags. This can make your team feel tempted to use generic hashtags like #Love, #Instagood, #Beautiful, etc. But such hashtags might attract eyeballs at best. They might never yield conversions – which is the entire reason why most dealerships try automotive social selling.
Instead, use only 3 to 5 hashtags per post. At maximum, use 11. This will keep your hashtag strategy focused.
3. Lack of a Differentiating Tone
Let’s understand the landscape of social media marketing for automotive businesses. We can begin by dissecting one platform – Instagram. Over 500 million people are active on Instagram every day. They spend nearly 22 minutes on average. And, 995 photos are uploaded on Instagram – every second.
This means that within the 22 minutes a user is on Instagram, the platform will be populated by over 1.3 million posts. Now you understand the competition.
5 Tactics to Lead Social Media Marketing for Automotive Industry
1. Content Marketing: Sales to Customer Delight.
Chevrolet is one of the most recognized brands in the USA. However, its marketing team understood that the customer perception was not in line with its offered value. So, they decided to create a campaign #BestDayEver and launched it on April Fools’ Day.
The idea was to partner with influencers and send them to unexpected places. Alec Baldwin and Olivia Wilde entered colleges as substitute teachers. Chevrolet also launched an 8-hour live stream on YouTube with Jon Dore/Garfunkel and the Oates.
The hashtag generated 1.5 billion impressions within a week.
Insight: You can partner with local influencers and deliver a brand experience on unexpected occasions.
2. Engaging Customers with Offline.
The posters, mascots, and inflated balloons were great – a generation ago. But social media marketing for the automotive industry has made them irrelevant. You are not trying to push people into your dealership. You want to have space in their memory. So, when they do need a car or a service, you are the first solution provider that pops up.
Such an abstract goal might sound too good to be realized. But, many brands have already won the customer perception game with offline marketing. Take, for instance, Ford. The company launched an initiative called ‘Try More’ in Canada. The brand launched several offline experiences around Canada. People could come here and try new things like MMA, riding a mechanical bull, or even throwing an axe. All the while people tried something new, they would see the Ford car in the background.
Insight: Create unique experiences in offline channels. Make sure your auto dealership brand is clearly visible in the backdrop. If people are creating memories, you have earned brand awareness.
3. Tricky: Not Taking the Brand Too Seriously.
Ford represents the rugged American car. Usually, this is associated with stereotypes around masculinity. And the flip side of this is the alleged relationship between women and bad driving. So, the brand stepped in and went in the opposite direction to its perceived values.
It partnered with a talent agency. Actors were called and told that they are auditioning for a reality TV show themed on dating. They were to meet a guest during the audition for the first date, who will decide whether they can continue or not. The guest was a professional car stuntwoman.
As soon as the date began, she asked the actors to come with her in a Mustang. She initially acted as she could barely drive. But, as they got into an empty lot, she started showing her skills – drifts and donuts.
The original video posted on Ford’s YouTube channel garnered over 12 million views. And all of this for a brand that did not play into the stereotype.
Insight: Focus on the stereotypes associated with your brand. Use content to break them with social media marketing for automotive branding. If you can do this with an engaging tone, you will attract new buyers to the market. Moreover, you can use humour to ensure no existing buyers get offended.
4. Solving Pre-Purchase Problems: Model Comparisons, Walkthroughs, and Service Tips.
Begin with exploring the customer purchase lifecycle. You can run an aggressive marketing campaign targeting expensive keywords. Or, you can play smart and create videos addressing such issues.
Take, for instance, how Nissan USA launched this walkthrough video for Altima. Usually, vloggers and car comparison channels produce such videos. But, by producing a video itself, Nissan took control of the narrative and got over 150,000 views.
Even before people want to know about a car, they might be interested in the brand and its other offerings. You can address this query by focusing on a simple car comparison video. Sundance Mazda produced this video and compared two of its models all the way to the trim. The result was a solid 70,000 views for an organic video.
Finally, help your existing set of customers keep their cars in functional condition. Most people prefer DIY tips. That is the reason why Groove Subaru produced this video and got close to 30,000 views. 0
Insight: On a standalone basis, such videos will only give you some traction. But, do this consistently, and you will see great results for low investments.
5. Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline.
Building onto the idea of online-offline integration, CarMax used an activation to create buzz around its Boston store opening. It partnered with an NGO and used the ‘giving tree’ concept around Christmas to launch the activation.
The entire activation was as simple as it can be. The brand installed a board right outside its store with an attached iPad and the necessary branding. The iPad displayed a child’s name and age along with a CTA that would allow anyone to make a quick donation. The NGO would materialize the donation and make sure the child got the benefits. And – that’s all! You cannot devise a more straightforward automotive social selling activation program than this one!
Insight: Look into the local community and its challenges. By becoming a medium for solving these while engaging the community, you can generate relevant and local traction.
Getting Efficient Results Social Media Marketing for Automotive Industry
Now that you are armed with the insights on what not to do and the creative strategies for social media marketing for automotive sales, we can tie the threads on the best practices.
1. Competition Research
Benchmark the reach and engagement of your direct competition, i.e. other dealerships with the same or different set of brand offerings. Now, expand your reach to the local market and filter the businesses with a target audience similar to yours. You can use tools like Sprout Social, Ahrefs, or Social Blade for such research.
2. Social Media Mentions
Keep a spreadsheet maintained with the social media results you can see every week with your dealership’s mention. You might find customers posting queries or complaints. This can be an added channel of communication. Additionally, make sure you use employee advocacy when you are pushing out important messaging. Using Inrelay, you can exponentially increase the impact of your programs on social media.
3. Craft a Voice
Just because your brand has a distinct persona does not mean you are limited to it. As the dealership in the community, you can craft your own voice. Post explainer videos, run activations that solve local problems and engage the local community.
4. Business – Industry – Stories: How to Allocate Content Ratios
When you build the content calendar, make sure the distribution follows this ratio:
- 33% of the posts should directly talk about your brand and dealership.
- 33% of posts should talk about the automotive industry.
- 33% of the posts should be inspired by how the influencers in your vertical are producing content.
This way, your target audience will never get saturated with the same content being posted repeatedly.
5. Be a Responsive Brand
After each sale, invite your customers to post on social media. Such practices often attract other customers to share their experience. If you find issues, instead of negating them, reach out to such customers and solve them.
6. Create a Toolkit
Lastly, do not depend on just Excel and social media platforms. You can use employee advocacy to enhance the reach of your campaigns. And if you have several dozen employees, you can use Inrelay to invite them, track the invitation acceptance, provide a structured format of content, and even measure the impact of such programs. You can also use the Inrelay Ultimate subscription to get creative services and strategic planning – every month.
Social media is crowded. And more brands are chasing the same limited attention span. If you can create a unique, relatable, and differentiated voice for your automotive dealership in this market – you will be positioned to get more traction.
Use the ideas presented here with Inrelay and catalyze the impact of your programs with employee advocacy.