Four Tips for car dealerships and car companies on social media engagement.

Currently, more than 81 percent of Americans own smartphones and almost three in four have a laptop or desktop computer. Regardless of which device they use, 72 percent of the American population have at least one social media account and around half access them once per day at minimum.

Counter the online engagement stats with that of cable TV. In the U.S., cable is a declining trend with nearly a quarter of subscribers abandoning their subscription since 2013. Only 65 percent of Americans pay for cable, and that statistic is continuing to drop.

Do you remember the days when car companies would have commercials on every TV break on nearly every channel? Sadly, that’s no longer the best way to engage with car shoppers. The online realm is, specifically on social media platforms.

Everyone in automotive & the salvage market has been quickly forced to realize that times are changing fast. For our industry, print ads and name recognition would have been all we needed just a few years ago. We’ve converted all of our ad spend to social media and online platforms because, honestly, that’s where our customers are.

Dealers who haven’t transitioned from traditional media sources – print newspaper, TV ads, and bus benches, for example – are at risk of being left in the dust. While the best advertising has been and always will be word of mouth, social media engagement is firmly in second place.

How should dealerships and car companies use social media best? Here are some a few methods to implement.

YouTube and Facebook are Most Popular

Like media methods of old, the idea is to be visible where your clientele is most active. Since more than 80 percent of Americans visit YouTube regularly and Facebook usership is nearly as high, it makes sense to invest heavily in those areas.

Print newspaper delivery is falling off the face of the earth and online news subscriptions are much less popular. Free content like YouTube videos and Facebook browsing capture Americans and reel them in.

Paid advertising on these channels is crucial and should be a serious portion of a dealership or car company’s ad spend, but there should be more.

Provide Valuable Content, Not Just Ads

Maintaining a social presence that is not just advertising provides brands recognition and develops authority. What does it look like? The more unique and engaging – or shall we say, viral – the better. The goal is to attract attention to the brand or store in a way that burns into the viewer’s brain. You want to be remembered when it’s time for them to shop for a vehicle or take their car in for servicing. As well, you want them to completely forget there are any other options.

Along with viral content, provide authoritative information that helps potential and current clients. That can be anything from how-to articles on using tech and videos walking customers through the dealership to maintenance recommendations and why it’s so important.

Establishing a social media presence with value-added content positions your company as an authority, building trust before the customer ever comes to your physical store.

Online Retail is Big

Given the choice, one-third of car shoppers would consider purchasing their next vehicle fully online. What that means is they go from inquiring about a car to taking delivery without setting foot in a bricks-and-mortar location even once. Safeguards are required including return policies, but the process itself is growing in popularity.

The auto industry can position well on social media both by promoting the practice of online retail as well as providing a starting place for consumers. Social media engagement on Facebook is around 1-2 percent and, while that doesn’t sound like much initially, it means that 1,000 out of every 1 million viewers could enter the sales funnel.

Invest in Micro-Moments

Not everything needs to be sales-related immediately. And even if it is, it doesn’t have to be a 30-second video clip to be valuable. Google says that micro-moments are “intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.” Often five seconds or less, micro-moments are non-interrupting, brief, and super-informative for viewers.

The benefits of a social media presence and social media marketing can’t be logically argued anymore. It’s proven to be effective across all demographics, whether on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Carmakers and auto retailers are finding themselves in a race for online domination, but the most important component is to continue building and developing, no matter how good you’re doing.