Last year, the New York Times published an article on how local auto dealers have struggled to embrace social media.
Many local dealerships have issues with social media that parallel those experienced by our local nonprofit clients: both groups struggle to achieve results with limited time and money, and to catch the attention of a limited audience.
Three quick takeaways:
1) Like it or not, social media is part of the buying (and donating) decision.
A 2014 global study by the consulting firm Capgemini captures the predicament. The survey of more than 10,000 active car buyers found that social media ranked far below dealer websites, web searching and the automotive news media as a source of information for buyers. But most respondents also said they used social media to research cars, planned to post something about their buying experience and expected dealers to have an active social media presence.
Two things to notice here. One, social media accounts on their own are less important than having a solid website, search engine rankings, and niche media outreach.
Two, buyers/supporters use social media to a) spread the word about their experiences, and b) to inform their future purchases. In particular, active social media accounts with a substantial number of likes, followers, and comments offer potential clients/donors a high level of social proof, reinforcing trust.
2) Being on social media will not necessarily drive business, particularly for small/local businesses:
“It’s like the old days: You need to be in the Yellow Pages. But is it going to meaningfully drive your business? Probably not,” said Chris Luo, who headed Facebook’s efforts to woo small and medium-size advertisers until 2012 and now works for FiveStars, a start-up that helps small businesses keep up with loyal customers.
This reflects my experience: the biggest clients and donors always come from in-person networking and referrals. What’s remarkable to me about this quote is who said it: Facebook’s former Global Head of Small and Medium Business Marketing.
3) If you do embrace social, buy ads to get the full benefit.
“I don’t even bother wasting my people’s time posting all day,” he said. By focusing on ads, including ones that target car buyers when they are near rival dealers, he said, he increased sales and cut marketing expenses per car sold to $90 from $500.
Ms. Ross discovered the power of Facebook advertising when a recent post about DeMontrond R.V.’s repair services got no “likes.” After she promoted it as an ad, she said, “my manager called me on Monday to tell me he’d received 10 new orders for roof repair.”
Most of our clients have shied away from paid ads, but examples like these might be the tipping point.
Read the full article, “The Gap Between Auto Dealers and Social Media,” at NYTimes.com.