Social media can be an important marketing tool for connecting with and engaging customers and clients. Car dealerships are getting social on social media and are using these platforms for marketing and outreach.
Yet, there are so many social media apps that it might be difficult for dealerships to decide where and how to focus their endeavors. Each platform has its own features and benefits and may appeal to a specific audience. Many understand that LinkedIn is primarily for business networking, Facebook is used for personal (or business) posts that include pictures and videos, Instagram is the ideal platform for visual appeal, YouTube is all about videos and Twitter is all about brevity with messaging.
SOCIAL MEDIA…BY THE NUMBERS
The stats on social media use illustrates its prevalence and its value to businesses. Billions of people use social media each day to engage with friends, interests, coworkers and more. The user data for each platform could vary by age group or even gender. Some platforms are more popular with younger audiences, others are more widely used by older Millennials or Gen X.
Facebook has almost two billion users that actively use the platform every day (1.85 billion…to be precise), but 2.8 billion users are active on Facebook (perhaps just not daily). Sprout Social reports that the largest number of users are between the ages of 25 and 34 (Millennials).
Twitter is widely used for quick engagement and short messages. The platform has a character limit for posts—only 280 characters can be used in each tweet. Journalists, celebrities, professionals, businesses and individuals all engage on Twitter. According to Statista, the largest number of users (28.4 percent) are between the ages of 35 and 49. This would include both older Millennials and younger members of Generation X. More than 25 percent of users are between 18 and 24 (Gen Z), and more than 26 percent are in the age range of 25 and 34 (Millennials).
Instagram’s user stats—per Statista—are broken down between gender lines. Why? Younger men seem to dominate this platform! According to figures on Statista, males between the ages of 25 and 34 make up the largest user numbers on the platform…16.9 percent! Females in the same age group represent 16.1 percent of users. Among Generation Z users (ages 18 to 24), males make up 15.3 percent of users while females represent 14.5 percent. After the age of 34, user popularity seems to drop off considerably. Men and women between the ages of 35 and 44 in total represent 16 percent of Instagram users.
Linkedin boasts more than 176 million U.S. users, and more than 738 million members total. More than 55 million companies are on LinkedIn, and the site offers listings for more than 14 million jobs. Women use Linkedin slightly more than men; according to Statista, more than 50 percent of users are female. Statista reports that more than 60 percent of users are between the ages of 25 and 34. This age group is part of the Millennial Generation.
In 2019, YouTube had more than 1.6 billion users across the globe! In addition, more than 60 percent of businesses use YouTube for video posts. Google reported that more than 70 percent of people purchased a brand after seeing it on YouTube.
Want to engage Zoomers (Generation Z)? Look to TikTok, which boasts one billion users per month! The majority of TikTokers (60 percent) are Generation Z, and 80 percent of users are under the age of 35. This app may be the best way to reach the younger audience. Not familiar with TikTok? It’s a fairly simple app; content consists of short videos (less than a minute). This is the platform that popularized all those dance challenges…including the viral The Renegade.
WAYS TO GET SOCIAL
How are dealerships using social media to their advantage and to engage potential customers? Every dealership may have a unique approach. Check out how some dealerships are using their social accounts:
FACEBOOK: VIDEO CONTENT & POSTS
The internet and social media platforms thrive on visuals. Videos on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook may be a great way to engage and even entertain potential customers.
On Facebook, Toyota of Katy posted a video for Employee Appreciation Day. Dealerships also can post videos about upcoming sales and promotions or send a video message to customers. Honda East in Cincinnati used Facebook to share Honda’s video preview of the Civic Sedan that would debut in 2022. Sometimes dealership videos have nothing to do with cars! Peak Kia in Colorado Springs wished its Facebook followers a Happy National Golden Retriever Day with a video of…yes, a Golden Retriever! The dealership also noted its pet-friendly policy in the post and asked followers for pictures of their dogs. After all, who doesn’t love sharing pictures of their fur babies?!
Facebook posts run the gamut. From wishing followers happy holidays, updates on snow closures (for the dealership), polls, or just updates about new models or sharing positive reviews (Toyota of Katy), posts can be all-business, a bit clever or simple.
INSTAGRAM: A PICTURE IS WORTH…
Photos and videos dominate Instagram. So what do dealerships post to this social media site? Woodhouse Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM Blair (Instagram handle: Woodhouse Auto) includes photos of check presentations, an infographic on hybrid cars, Super Bowl predictions and even photos that align a zodiac sign with a vehicle.
Sullivan Motor Company, Inc. (in Mesa, Ariz.) posts photos of inventory vehicles on the lot, info on sales, holiday greetings and more.
The takeaway? Get creative!
YOUTUBE: TAKE A DRIVE, GO ON A TOUR AND CHECK OUT SOME CARS!
On YouTube, dealerships have posted ‘virtual test drives’ where someone at the dealerships takes viewers on a spin in one of the vehicles on the lot. These videos are among the more common dealership videos. Dealerships also can partner with YouTubers for a unique video experience; this partnership could help boost views..
In addition, dealerships also have posted videos highlighting one particular vehicle. Southern Motors recently uploaded a video on YouTube for a 1965 Chevrolet C10. The video is more than 10 minutes long and shows potential buyers up close views on all the truck’s features. The video description also includes additional specs about the truck. The video’s title features the price, too ($58,900).
Audi Salt Lake City used YouTube to post a tour of its new showroom. The video clocks in at less than five minutes and offers a look through the new space. The video has been viewed more than 65,000 times.
TIKTOK: SAY IT IN LESS THAN A MINUTE
TikTok might be the upcoming social media site that dealerships are eyeing. The challenge of this platform, though, is keeping videos brief. TikTok isn’t the place for a long-form video. TikTok is snappy, fun…but still business for businesses.
Is it a good fit for dealerships? That really depends on the dealership! Premier Chevrolet joined TikTok in 2019, and other dealerships might take the plunge to reach younger buyers.
LINKEDIN: FINDING LIKE MINDS
Unlike Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, LinkedIn is social in a business sense. Dealerships join LinkedIn likely for the same reasons as other businesses; the site is all about networking and is often used by businesses to find qualified candidates for employment opportunities.
LinkedIn posts can be related to open positions, sharing industry news or anything related to business. Some companies are incredibly active on LinkedIn, others have a presence but might not be regular users. Employees can link to the company page.
THE ONLINE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE MAY LOOK DIFFERENT FOR EACH DEALERSHIP
There are so many ways to engage audiences via social media. Dealerships may choose a few networks that they use regularly, but others may go all in and join every social network. Dealerships might make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew in the virtual social realm, however; posting content regularly ensures that clients and potential customers stay engaged.
A dealership’s social media strategy may depend on its competition and budget. Some dealerships might have a marketing staff with professionals who know all the ins and outs of the social media realm. These dedicated staff members may be the dealership’s voice on social channels.
Dealerships also could outsource their social media to an agency. Marketing professionals and agencies specializing in the needs of dealerships can help personalize a social media plan to maximize results and optimize video engagement.
Still, smaller dealerships may just handle the work in-house with the owner taking the social media reins. No matter who handles those accounts, consistency is key. Regular posts and engaging content help keep followers coming back. Social media accounts also could be the place potential customers check for deals, updated hours and other information about the dealership. When bad weather hits, updating social channels also helps ensure that customers know about changing hours and schedules.
While the online social experience may vary for each dealership, the social networks can be a valuable resource for reaching out to potential customers, connecting with current customers and staying visible in the vast space of the internet. Competition may be fierce in many areas, and social media can be yet another way for a dealership to solidify its brand and differentiate itself from competitors.