Best Practices for Engaging Customers Through Social Media

By Miranda Jonswold 

Contributor: Matt Murray, CEO and Founder of Widewail 

While social distancing guidelines remain in place, people have become increasingly reliant on digital tools and resources to feel connected. Enter: social media. 

If your business does not already have a social media presence, now is the time to use these platforms to broaden brand awareness, foster connections, earn consumer trust, and provide up-to-date information for a smooth online shopping, servicing, and ownership journey. 

Here are enduring best practices to transform your social accounts into an invaluable part of your digital marketing strategy.

 

1.  Be Present 

Join the conversation and be mindful of how your social profiles will be managed.  There is a social strategy for every business objective, no matter how large or small, and the numbers prove it.  The data for reach and engagement on these platforms is staggering: 

  •  1.6 billion global Facebook users log in every day, and 223 million people in the US access Facebook every month. 
  •  +50% increase in Facebook Messenger use for month ending March 24, 2020 versus the prior month, including engagement with Feed and Stories. 
  •  1 billion Instagram accounts with activity every month, and 90% of accounts follow a business. 
  • 2 out of 3 people on Facebook visit a business profile or event weekly. 
  • 80% of recent vehicle buyers surveyed visited a Facebook property. 

Research each channel, assess its relevance for the audience you wish to attract, and commit to updating it as needed.  Be sure your branding, messaging, and information are consistent. 

2. Be Engaged 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who only talked about themselves?  Don’t be that voice on social.  Think beyond push-marketing or posting X times per week.  Instead, aim to deliver a comparable level of interaction and service to what your customers receive in your showroom.  Facebook posts are seeing 3-5x more customer engagement.  Connect through social and earn your customer’s trust while maintaining a safe physical distance. 

For content, strive for diversity in post type and topic. Here are some examples: 

  • Snap a 360-degree photo of a vehicle’s interior  
  • Conduct a walkaround video 
  • Showcase a customer taking at-home delivery of a vehicle 
  • Host a live Q&A session 
  • Leverage Instagram and Facebook Stories (62% of people said they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories) 
  • Repost user-generated content like “check-ins” or “mentions” 

For posted content, engagement isn’t complete when the asset is uploaded.  Monitor activity and consider taking small steps to control the conversation: remove negative comments, “like” positive comments, and address customer service issues promptly.   

Some engagement is behind-the-scenes, so check your Inbox and Direct Messages. According to Facebook, 55% of people feel more confident sending a message to a business than an email, so be ready to receive. 

Finally, keep your demographic relevant by following your enthusiasts, community partners, friends, and family. Ask your team members to follow your dealership channels and be sure to tag the dealership in uploaded photos. The more you make your content about your audience and their interests, the more they will remember you.  

3. Be Informative 

What information would both you and your audience benefit from them learning?  For many, this is an opportune time to leverage content focused on their Dealer Home Services, including: 

  • Remote test drives 
  • At-home delivery 
  • Pickup and delivery for dealer service  

Use social to spread the word about digital retailing; it’s safe and seamless with online deals, online trade-valuation, online credit approval, F&I merchandising, scheduling pickup and reserving rides.  Also consider these other topics of interest: 

  •  Product information and updates 
  • OEM news and incentives 
  • Maintenance tips 
  • Staff information  
  • Community news and partnerships 

4.  Be Authentic 

Take this example of two competing businesses set up an auto-feed with the same content. For Dealer A, review responses aren’t tailored, and your question goes unanswered for days.  Dealer B uses custom content that shows the smiling faces of real customers, posts entertaining product videos, and engages with an authentic response to your latest review.  See the difference?  Put in the effort and see a return on your investment. 

For Jones Junction in Maryland, authenticity shines through with photos of customers taking delivery at home. For Don Miller Subaru West in Madison, it’s about archiving all the dogs that have either joined their owner for a service visit or are reaping the benefits of riding in their new Subaru–and all posts are branded as #DogsofDonMillerSubaruWest.  Find what works for you, but above all: be authentic. 

5.  Be Transparent 

Trust is earned, so make your messaging clear and address inquiries expeditiously.  This is especially true for reputation management. Whether on Google, DealerRater, Cars.com, or other review sites, listen to feedback and respond mindfully.  

How you handle conflict may have a lasting effect on those customers, but it may also influence potential consumers. After all, 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, businesses who respond consistently get 12% more reviews, according to Harvard Business Review.   

Get Social 

Bring social media to the forefront of your digital marketing strategy. If you wear multiple hats, consider enlisting a dedicated provider to execute campaigns for you and provide expert analysis of your performance.  Contact your Dealer.com Performance Manager to learn how social can drive traffic to your site, help your business, improve the customer experience, and create customers for life. 

Sources: 

Facebook Automotive Playbook for DealersFacebook IQ “Meet the People Behind Local Business Marketing”; Facebook IQ “Why Stories is a Format that Can Help Marketers Promote Brands”; Facebook IQ “3 Ways Messaging Is Transforming the Path to Purchase 2018;