SAN DIEGO – A dealership Facebook page might seem like an odd place to post a Tex-Mex Goulash recipe. But why not?, says social-media expert Cat Killfoil.

“Include recipes on your website,” she advises. “It may seem crazy, but it goes beyond ‘buy a car, buy a car.’”

The goal indeed is to sell a car at some point. However dealers should take a softer, indirect approach to that on social media, says Killfoil, a brand strategist at Friendemic, a marketing firm specializing in customer engagement.

Many dealers struggle to figure out what mixture of content to post on social-network sites.

Many experts warn against going heavy on inventory. That’s what dealership websites are for. But listing some inventory on Facebook and the like is not necessarily egregious as long as it doesn’t push out the fun stuff.

“You can provide a link to your inventory page, but don’t reprint your newspaper ad,” Killfoil says.

She advises dealers to make their social-media websites go-to places by offering “awesome” content, including community news, movie and restaurant reviews, photos of happy customers, car tips and, yes, “a lot of recipes.”

“Don’t overthink content,” she says at a dealer conference put on here by DealerSocket, a customer-relationship management software provider.

“Just let it happen,” she adds. “Don’t be afraid of it or feel pressured. See what you can do with it as a new marketing vertical.”

Social-media sites are good places to promote sales, events, specials and contests.

Dealership contest prizes need not rival car giveaways on the “Price is Right” TV show. “It doesn’t have to be expensive stuff,” says Killfoil, recommending the likes of movie tickets.

A conference attendee asks how dealers can promote themselves on social-media sites without appearing self-congratulatory.

“Get people talking about you,” she says, citing compelling content as doing that.  

Dealer principals need not oversee and regularly refresh Facebook content themselves. Killfoil recommends assigning such work to a staffer with strong social skills.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com