Below is the article, “Social Media Social Marketing: Don’t Let Off the Throttle,” with Michael Sos, Product Manager for Interactive Media in the February edition of the Dealer Marketing Magazine.
What’s your assessment of how well new car dealerships, as an industry, used social media and social marketing in 2015 compared to prior years?
Unfortunately, automotive dealerships have developed an apathetic attitude towards social media in 2015. This stems from the large sums of money that many dealers have already tossed at it over the last couple years with very little to show for it except for a page full of silly stuff that no one looks at. I see it often. When I say “Facebook”…General Managers’ eyes glaze over and they stop paying attention. Dealers today, and the auto industry as a whole, needs to wake up and reevaluate, because the advertising opportunities on social media are bigger than anything else dealers are currently doing.
What do you consider the ideal way to staff a dealership to most effectively take advantage of social media marketing—should there be one centralized full-time person handling responsibilities, should it be split between different departments, etc.? (Please consider different sized dealerships and their regional markets in the answer.)
In 2016, social media marketing efforts will evolve into more of an agency activity and will likely not be fulfilled out of the store as it has been over the last few years. We, as an industry, need to think about social media management in the same way that we think of Google Adwords or email marketing. While automotive social media marketing can be managed in-store, there are vendors with the tools, reporting, and personnel that are better equipped to handle it- especially when scaling up to large dealerships or dealer groups. I expect some dealers will employ automotive social advertising toolsets that will intertwine the capabilities of existing social ad platforms with automotive metrics.
What are the differences in effectiveness of social media between low- and high-end brands’ demographics? For example, is a potential Mercedes-Benz or Porsche customer more or less likely to be impacted or influenced by social marketing as consumers considering a Kia or Fiat, and why?
If we step back and look at the various social networks, are they dominated by a certain demographic? No, they’re not. Everyone is participating. With that in mind, every dealership from mainstream brands to luxury can, and should, participate in social media marketing to some degree. Social media advertising gives dealers the opportunity to target consumers based on their location, demographics, and interests. This helps automotive dealers, and the vendors they employ, to find the right customers.
Luxury brands and lifestyle vehicles have an advantage in social media marketing because consumers seek to connect. For instance, if you have a Porsche dealership, building a social community is not hard since these customers already want to be connected to the Porsche brand, and lifestyle represented online. For a General Motors dealership, they are several sub-communities that have the same potential…but should this be a focus? Personally, I don’t think so. Dealers need to spend their time where the biggest ROI potential can be found. It’s for this reason that I tell dealers to approach social media as an advertising opportunity and measure it accordingly.
Which current, widely used social media platform do you consider to offer the least return on investment in terms of effectiveness for auto dealerships, and why?
I love Twitter but I think its value is minimal for an automotive dealership. Any message posted is gone in a blink of an eye, simply due to the amount of content on that platform. While the advertising opportunities there are interesting, the user base is not wide enough to bring big value to dealerships at this time.
Conversely, which social media platform (or type of platform) is being underutilized by dealers, and how can it benefit dealerships to use?
The Facebook advertising platform is amazing and offers unlimited opportunities to target and find audiences for dealership inventory. Their ‘custom audience’ advertising has huge potential for loyalty advertising and their look-alike audience feature is amazing. Dealers can utilize ‘look-alike’ audiences to target ads towards consumers on Facebook that resemble (demographic, preferences) recent buyers from the dealership. At Dominion, we have seen great successes for our dealer partners already, and will be expanding quite a bit in 2016. The new capabilities to reach consumers on Instagram also look very promising.
Is there a danger of “social media fatigue” among potential customers that could blunt the impact and effectiveness of social marketing for dealerships, and if so, what would be a good proactive strategy for a dealership to employ as to prevent it?
I think it is possible that some social networks will rise and some will fall over time, but the social internet as a whole is here to stay and will only become more woven into consumers’ lives. There was a scene from the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise where the advertisements were following him and were individualized. Social advertising is the precursor to this functionality, so I strongly recommend that all dealers delve in and start to build competency in this medium.READ MORE >