How to Use TikTok for Dealership Marketing

TikTok is the rising star of social media platforms. CNBC reports that as of February 2023, TikTok counts one billion monthly active users. According to Statista, nearly 40 percent of users are between the ages of 18 to 24. This age bracket correlates to Generation Z, which is the demographic many businesses are now focusing their marketing efforts on.

TikTok could be a conduit for reaching these younger buyers, but before businesses jump onto this platform they need to know how to create impactful and engaging content. Here’s how to use TikTok for dealership marketing and boost the dealership’s brand.

A TikTok Concern

TikTok is popular but it is also quite controversial. The parent company of the platform is ByteDance, which is based in China. This overseas link has led to the app being banned for use on government devices. Some states also issued bans related to TikTok’s inclusion on devices (for state agencies and government officials).

The concern is due to the possibility for the Chinese-based app to pull data from users. Many apps place cookies on devices, but governments—both state and federal—are mindful about what an overseas company could capture related to users, especially government officials. The ban is a proactive move to ensure that a Chinese-owned company does not have access to any sensitive information or user data from government devices or officials.

TikTok for Dealership Marketing

Why is TikTok So Popular?

TikTok is designed as a video-based social media platform. Unlike YouTube, which allows users to post videos that could be several hours in duration, TikTok focuses on short video content. The design allows for snappy, quick but incredibly engaging content.

While videos on TikTok could be around 10 minutes in length, Android Authority explained that three minutes is the ideal duration. The site noted that when TikTok launched, videos were only 15 seconds long.

Topics for video content can be as diverse as its users. The platform is known for its dance videos, which often go viral as ‘challenges.’ Users also could create helpful ‘how to’ videos, advice content or even just humorous videos about their lives. Some might post videos related to current events, celebrities, etc.

As the popularity of TikTok has increased, more businesses are joining with their own video content. Like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, TikTok offers another platform for marketing products or simply to elevate a company’s brand visibility.

How Can Dealerships Use TikTok?

Dealerships might be active on one or more social media platforms. Facebook is the largest platform with the most monthly active users (nearly three billion). As Facebook is the most popular social media app, companies might focus on this platform to reach the most customers and engage online.

TikTok is growing its user base, though. As Gen Z makes up the largest percentage of users, TikTok could be one of the best social media platforms for car dealerships to engage with these younger consumers. What content should drive a dealership’s TikTok account?

Every dealership has a unique culture and brand voice. The dealership’s TikTok account should mirror the brand voice used in other communiqués, and the account content also should be consistent with the culture/brand.

There are many types of videos that dealerships can post on TikTok. Again, dealerships should remember that these videos are shorter—less than 10 minutes, but ideally around three minutes. Here are 10 ideas for creating memorable TikTok content:

  1. Car care tips (series)
  2. How-to topics related to car maintenance
  3. Dealership tour videos
  4. Sales team profiles
  5. Dance challenges at the dealership
  6. New car model teasers
  7. A car buying checklist video
  8. Sales promotions updates
  9. Save-the-date videos (for upcoming events)
  10. Seasonal car topics

Car Care Tips Content

Create a video series related to common car care tips. For example, a video might focus on how often to swap out air filters and what products to use on certain upholstery. Videos also might focus on car detailing and what is involved in this service.

How-to Topics

Dealerships also could create a TikTok video series related to common car maintenance needs or how-to tips. For example, create a video tutorial on how to change a tire, check the oil or swap out windshield wiper blades.

Brainstorm a list of topics that might be of interest for younger buyers. Dealerships also can explain the different warning lights that drivers might notice on their instrument panel. Explain what to do if the low-oil pressure illuminates. Use videos to empower and engage.

Dealership Tour Videos

Take TikTok users on a quick tour of the dealership. Highlight a new showroom or just take users on a tour of the different areas of the dealership.

Sales Team Profiles

Help car shoppers put a face to a name before they visit the dealership. Create a video series introducing the staff and sales team. Let each member highlight some fun facts about their life, their favorite foods, pet peeves or anything they want to share.

Dance Challenges at the Dealership

TikTok is famous for dance challenges that go viral. Post a video of staff or the sales team taking on one of these dance challenges. Have fun with the video!

New Car Model Teasers

Is a new model rolling into the dealership? Create a video teasing the new arrival. When new models arrive, showcase each vehicle in a separate video. Give TikTok users a look inside the car and highlight some of the features, too.

A Car Buying Checklist Video

Some younger buyers might be embarking on their first car purchase. Help these shoppers understand all the steps to this process. Dedicate a video to budgeting for the purchase, getting financed, insurance, etc. Help buyers understand sales tax issues, too.

Sales Promotions Updates

Manufacturers typically offer rebates, lease deals or special APR financing for qualified buyers. Highlight these offers via TikTok. This type of video might be released regularly or just when new deals become available. Keep buyers up-to-date about any promotions.

Save-the-Date Videos

Some dealerships host a customer appreciation event or another special event. Create a video to draw awareness to the upcoming event and keep TikTok users up-to-date as the event draws near. Highlight any unique offerings of the event like attendance drawings, kid-friendly activities, etc.

Seasonal Car Topics

Each season could offer a unique angle for car topics. For example, dealerships might dedicate a winter post to snow tires or how to drive in the snow. Summer could be the time to talk about air conditioning maintenance and how to tell if the AC is failing. Dealerships also could create a video to help drivers understand what to do if they notice their car is beginning to overheat.

TikTok for Dealership Marketing

Advertising on TikTok

TikTok offers advertising opportunities for businesses who want to increase their reach on this platform. These ads can be targeted to a dealership’s key audience to maximize the impact. These ads also can be designed to appear like any other TikTok video; TikTok Business explains that advertisers can include music, transitions, etc.

Not all dealerships are ready to delve into another social media platform. Some dealerships might not have the time to create more content on social media. Advertising on TikTok could help the dealership reach younger buyers and gain visibility on this platform.

Is TikTok Right for the Dealership?

Some dealerships might be waffling about adding a TikTok account to their social media activity. For dealerships that are on the fence about TikTok, exploring the content could be beneficial to understand if this is the ideal space for the dealership.

Dealerships can watch videos to get a better sense as to what resonates with users on this platform. Explore different businesses on the site, too.

While TikTok can be an impactful platform for reaching Gen Z, it isn’t the only social media option for dealerships to engage with this generation. YouTube is used by nearly 90 percent of Gen Z, and dealerships might find that YouTube allows them to create longer and more informative content.

YouTube also is a popular platform for the auto industry in general. Dealerships can find the major manufacturers on YouTube along with big and small dealerships across the country.

Some businesses could be hesitant to engage via TikTok because of the controversy surrounding the app. TikTok has been banned for use on government devices, and not everyone is comfortable using an app that is controlled by an overseas company. If dealerships are concerned about their data and who has access to it, they might focus on using other social media platforms to engage online.

Will TikTok Become Just Another Social Media Trend?

Not all social media channels have withstood the test of time. Remember MySpace? Some apps become just a trend and simply lose popularity. Will TikTok become another social media trend?

The app’s popularity doesn’t seem to be dwindling, especially with the younger generation. However, there could be another cool new platform that captures the attention of Gen Z and overthrows TikTok. Social media habits change, and dealerships might be watchful of new apps and platforms on the horizon.