automotive industry social media marketing


Auto dealership social media marketing might seem obvious to most industry observers. However, between their objective and the actual marketing dollars spent in the industry, there is a lot of noise.

Auto dealerships tend to have significant marketing budgets compared to other small and medium-scale businesses. The focus on walk-ins and test drives has helped some dealerships scale to great lengths. But, do these practices still work?

Social media marketing for automotive dealerships has changed the game. With the right tactics, you can get practically the same results as a dull but expensive campaign would bring. The only caveat is – you should be focusing on the right side of the equation.
Social media marketing for automotive dealerships has changed the game. With the right tactics, you can get practically the same results as a dull but expensive campaign would bring. The only caveat is – you should be focusing on the right side of the equation.

USA Automotive Industry and Traditional Media

Traditional media has played a significant role in helping auto dealerships succeed. But this relationship has changed directions. Here is how the evolved media landscape is working alongside the auto dealership business.

1. Sorry, Don Draper: Death of the Industrial Advertising Complex

Popularly called ‘Prof G,’ Scott Galloway is known as one of the more transparent marketers and entrepreneurs in the United States. He currently teaches Marketing and Brand Management as a Clinical Professor at NYU. And he believes that the industrial advertising complex is dead.

The industrial advertising complex is a simple arrangement that has existed for decades. You spend millions on TV, radio, and print ads to get incremental sales and profits. Then, you put that money into expanding your product line and manufacturing base. Then, you use the same money to grow your business with more advertising. And the cycle continues.

That relationship assumes that you cannot grow without advertising. As people who have scaled businesses on social media would tell you – that is no longer the case. Social media marketing for the automotive industry shows an example of how business growth can be accelerated without expanding the marketing budget as the only driver of growth.

2. Why are We Still Putting Money Here?

A report published by the National Auto Dealers’ Association shows that over 40% of marketing budgets at dealerships are allocated to TV, print, and radio ads. While that is not the majority of the marketing spends but it is a large piece of the marketing resources. If your auto dealership’s marketing budget is on similar lines, you might have to walk through these concerns with your team.

1. TV: Expensive and Threat of On-Demand

Let’s assume for a minute that you cannot put an ad in the Super Bowl breaks. When it comes to all other media spots on television, the advertising spends have been decreasing consistently. More marketers have realized that on-demand is killing television. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and the list goes on.

Advertising on cable TV might seem like a cheap solution, but the decreasing viewership numbers show that it is losing its effectiveness. And other marketers have already started sensing this trend.

2. Radio: Low Remembering Value and Threat of Podcasts

The radio was invented in 1896. Since then, every major invention like the television, portable music player, and even magazines has posed threats to the medium. But, people liked radio for its conversational entertainment on their drive to work and beyond. That particular spot is under attack by the wide range of available podcasts.

Besides the apparent alternatives, local radio ads are not always expensive. Hence, you will find each media spot crowded with unrelated products. This leads to dilution of remembering value – or the measure of how well a listener can recall your ad. Similar to TV ads, radio ad spends have also started plunging.

3. Print: Falling Readership

As on-demand information became easily accessible, print newspapers were the first to experience a wave of change. Some newspapers like the New York Times were able to transition to digital readership. But the more conventional ones have struggled with falling readership. It has been a slow descent into oblivion. Industry observers agree – print does not command the readership it once used to.

auto dealership social media marketing

3. Common Challenges with All Traditional Mediums

Besides the fall in readership, viewership, and listeners, traditional media faces a large number of issues:

1. Performance Tracking: It is almost impossible to track the activity of your leads, effectiveness of your messaging, or run remarketing initiatives.

2. Association Problems: Your ad might be displayed or played near any brand or business. Your customers will see both the ads and may form associations you might not want.

3. Scaling Challenges: You can only scale traditional media initiatives by spending more than your last marketing initiative.

4. Customer Journey Disconnect: Car buyers are discovering, researching, and even buying cars online, outside the radius of TV, radio, or print ads.

Now that we understand why traditional media can be a dealership’s only marketing channel, let’s focus on a solution that can work – social media strategy for the automotive business.

Social Media Marketing for Automotive Industry: The Why, What, and How

Any marketer can tell you without any research that social media works. But, it’s essential to look behind the curtains and see why it works, what makes it successful, and how you can achieve industry-defying results.

1. Benefits of Using Social Media

Here are some of the most prevalent benefits of social media:

1. You Own the Brand and the Medium: You get absolute control over the message, its delivery, and its associations. You get an opportunity to develop your audience base that wants to connect with your offerings. This can be a non-intrusive channel that belongs exclusively to your brand.

2. Direct Conversations to Control the Brand Experience: It is common to get constrained by the medium with paid ads. The TV ad spot should have 30 seconds of video. The print ad should have a specific layout, etc. Social media lets you experiment with the medium. Put out a poll, release a game, publish a video, or post a link redirecting to your landing page – you get to decide the brand experience. And above all, you control the conversation directly with the consumers.

3. Scalable and Cost-Effective: Using tools like employee advocacy, you can craft a social media strategy for automotive businesses that can scale even without ad promotions. That is the beauty of social media – if you can put together the relevant features, benefits, and advantages, you don’t have to incur costs to promote the message.

4. Trackable: Whether you want to generate traffic for your mobile app or if you wish to have a conversion for your landing page, you can track it all. Social media ad tools, trackable links, and remarketing are just a few alternatives that give you complete visibility in measuring the effectiveness of your marketing plan.

2. Get a Competitive Edge: Use Cases for Social Media

Unlike other mediums, social media marketing for automotive businesses can open several doors at once.

1. Lead Generation: The first and obvious goal is – generating leads. By carefully assembling what differentiates your dealership and why should your target audience cares about it, you can generate interest. Nudge this interest towards micro-conversions like booking a test drive. And there you go – you have a lead generation program ready to be launched!

2. Online Reputation Management: With traditional media ad campaigns, you are just sending out a message in a one-way conversation. The only feedback you get is in the form of quarterly sales results. Social media lets your followers directly engage with you. Collect the complaints, concerns, and questions to manage your online reputation. With Inrelay by your side, you can use your employee base to scale your ORM practices quickly.

3. Employer Branding: If you have tried to hire professionals in the sales, service, or any other roles in the USA automotive industry, you might have faced talent gaps. The entire industry is witnessing them. With social media and employee advocacy in your toolkit, you can create a leading employer brand that attracts your local talent and helps you save on recruiting costs.

4. Competition Research: Auto dealership social media marketing is standard these days. You can input the name of any dealership and see what it has posted online. This can help you collect intelligence on competition that would have taken some consultant weeks to source and several thousand dollars in paid fees.

5. Customer Trend Analysis: Since you are running a direct communication channel with your followers on social media, you can collect insight in real-time. Usually, your followers will tell you what they want. You can compare this with other tools that show trends on search engines and social media. And just like that, your marketing research is taken care of!

3. Case Study: BMW and the Case of Consistent Sales

The automotive industry has had its fair share of challenges in 2020 and 2021. The uncertainty over sales, safeguarding its key personnel, and sourcing microprocessors were the primary concerns. Most auto brands faced volatility in their market share, except BMW.

The brand commands 2% of the market share in the industry. While the figure is small compared to GM, Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, it has remained there consistently even in a challenging year. What has helped BMW achieve this consistency in sales as a brand?

BMW’s social media strategy might give some hints for the answer to that question. The brand has witnessed a 162% increase in engagement rates on an annual basis. It is one of the most active brands on social media, which posts multiple times a day. Besides the frequency, its content calendar covers series like ‘art car,’ mini videos on the lives of artists, architecture projects, SOHO House, etc.

4. Employee Advocacy: New Age Social Media Marketing

Even if you do not have the marketing resources like BMW, you can get results of comparable scale with employee advocacy.

1. What is Employee Advocacy?

Employee advocacy is the systematic process of converting your employees into your brand advocates on social media.

2. Why Should You Try Employee Advocacy?

Employee advocacy lets you convert your employee overheads into a market asset. It creates a more effective and trustworthy channel for your target audience to interact with your brand on social media. Moreover, you get more eyes and ears on your social media platform to scan the market and collect trends on your competition, target audience, etc.

3. How Does It Work?

It all begins with Inrelay. You can send invites to all your employees using just a few clicks on the platform. Then, you can track the acceptance rate. You can then create different content categories for different sets of employees to achieve various marketing goals – brand awareness, lead generation, employer branding, or even custom goals. With the Ultimate subscription, you can also get free creative and strategic planning services for every month of the year.

employee advocacy social media platform

In Conclusion

Auto dealership social media marketing is more effective, transparent, and controllable than traditional media ads. You should not be spending nearly half of your marketing budget on advertising mediums that do not generate results or insights. Hence, focusing more on social media is the obvious choice. But, if you want to differentiate your dealership, you should turn to employee advocacy. And Inrelay can help you make that transition as smoothly as possible. With one platform, you can invite employees, categorize & distribute content, and track results.

Sometimes, all you need is simplicity and effectiveness to reach the end goal. Inrelay ensures your marketing strategy is enriched with both these elements in adequate supply.

Click here to talk to one of our experts and learn more.

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April 2024