Even the most steadfast resisters have begrudgingly put their dealerships into the social media arena, as the percentage of adults who use Facebook has doubled in the past few years.
A lot of the holdouts are only waiting to learn more about the process before jumping in. But they shouldn't wait until their competitors get too far ahead.
As a former dealership executive, I know the challenge of finding new cost-effective marketing strategies. I now meet with dealers and managers to talk about how they can use Facebook.
Here are six things I've found that dealers like the most are:
There are tricks to getting your Facebook page out to your current and potential customers. But once you've accomplished that you shouldn't be spending any more money unless you choose to use some of the internal Facebook advertising options.
It's easy to get started
Facebook pages aren't websites, and if you try to turn it into one you're going to lose the kind of customer interaction that makes it work for you. Put up a Facebook page that paints a professional image of the dealership in its design and layout.
Focus your efforts (or investment) on providing the kind of interactive content that will engage their visitors and keep them coming back. Although it's fairly easy to do this yourself, you may be better served by having it done by an outside company that specializes in dealership social media. If you go this route, make sure you're not overpaying.
It's easy to update
Unlike a website, you can post information to your Facebook “wall” in a matter of seconds. Dealership happenings and events, new product information, personnel changes, trivia contests; the list of things you can put on your Facebook wall is long.
Think of these posts as conversations that you're having with your customers (and prospective customers). What would you want them to know about your dealership?
Customers use it
I've seen hundreds of examples of how people are already using Facebook wall postings as a form of direct communication. Here are a few examples taken directly from these dealership's walls:
“Thanks for fixing my car after the wind got it”
“I need a new car bad! well a new used one anyway! A certain lady told me that you guys are the place to go.”
“I think I need to get new tires. They are 195/60/R15. Do you have?”
“Thank you for helping me choose my new car.”
“Will there be more rebates on Mustang? I want one bad.”
“My husband took our Buick in for service and as usual, everyone there is courteous, efficient, pleasant and super to deal with.”
“Dealt with John for years. The person I have trusted to lease my cars”
What makes these posts great is that not only are they sitting on your wall, but they're seen by all of the posters' Facebook friends, and the typical user has many.
If you receive a negative comment, your immediate response to it will do much to establish your commitment to customer satisfaction in the eyes of prospective customers.
It has great reports
This weekly customer-activity report does a great job of providing the most relevant information about the dealership Facebook page in a concise format.
It leads to other opportunities
QR codes and Groupon are among ways that you can use Facebook to promote your dealership, and they require very little financial or time investment on your part to get started or to maintain.
I hope this gets you thinking about using Facebook as an integral part of your dealership marketing strategy. Done well, it will help you sell more at a reduced cost.
Kathleen Dillon is a co-founder and vice president of contemporary media for Automotive Internet Technologies, an Internet consulting firm to auto dealerships. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-616-2632.