Ask any questions related to business / entrepreneurship / money-making / life
NO BLATANT ADS PLEASE
Auto Dealers Meet Facebook. Facebook Wins.
This article is interesting and a little funny. It is amusing to see these
practical no nonsense types trying to grapple with social media. It also
gives you an idea what you might face trying to get dealers to buy your
social media services
The full article is here
The Gap Between Auto Dealers and Social Media
Matt Howell, the general manager of a Hyundai dealership in Huntsville, Tex., has been in the auto business for 18 years. In all that time, he said, “I can think of one deal that originated on Facebook.”
In January, marketing managers at Hyundai’s American headquarters in Southern California persuaded Mr. Howell to give social media a more serious try. They asked him to use new software to post videos, photos and text updates suggested by the company on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
Two months into his social media experiment, the efforts had drawn such little reaction that Mr. Howell, 42, decided to drop out of the program.
Although he plans to keep posting photos of happy buyers on Facebook and encouraging them to write reviews, he does not have much use for the rest of it — especially since Hyundai began charging $275 a month for the service.
To Mr. Howell, selling a car boils down to one basic principle: Treat your customers well, and they will sing your praises to friends and family. “Those personal relationships are more important,” he said
Hyundai of Huntsville’s experience illustrates how far social media still has to go to serve small, locally focused businesses. While large companies have learned how to stand out on social networks and get lots of hand-holding from sites like Facebook and Twitter, most local business owners are left on their own and remain stumped by social marketing.
Nowhere is that gulf more apparent than in the auto industry. Car manufacturers including Hyundai and Ford Motor have embraced social media and spend tens of millions of dollars on sophisticated marketing campaigns. Yet many of their local dealers barely maintain a Facebook page.
Some experts question whether local businesses even need to be active on social media.
“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
Still, if a business does plunge into social media, Facebook and outside experts said, the most reliable route to success is to pay to promote posts as ads — something that Hyundai is not yet teaching its dealers.
“If you want predictable results for your business, ads are a cost-effective way to get them,” said Dan Levy, Facebook’s global director of small business.
Hyundai said it knows social media advertising is important, but it noted that dealers need to learn the basics of creating good content first. “If you hit anyone with it all at once, it would be very overwhelming,” said Jon Budd, who oversees new media at Hyundai Motor America.
He said that the three-year program had just begun and that it was too soon to judge the results.
Many local dealers worry that they need to be on Facebook, Twitter and whatever comes next, even as they struggle to understand how the services can help sell captures the predicaent. 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.
“It’s easier to measure return on investment against other media types, like print or TV,” said Nick Gill, the study’s primary author. However, with the average American spending 40 minutes a day on Facebook alone, ignoring social media is also perilous because “it de facto becomes part of the buying decision,” Mr. Gill said.
While other automakers like Lexus are also helping their dealers become more socially savvy, Hyundai is going further than most. Last fall, it brought in Spredfast, an Austin, Tex., maker of social media tools, to devise customized software and a training program to offer its 800 dealers, which are independently owned franchises.
Using the Houston area as a test market, Spredfast and Hyundai began offering dealers a digital dashboard that lets them post and manage content on all of the major social networks.
Six months in, the effort has not exactly transformed the dealers into masters of the medium.
They complain that they have received little guidance on how to use the tools effectively and no training on social advertising. The $275 monthly fee, which Hyundai said was less than what many dealers already spend on social marketing, has put off some. Complicating the rollout, the automaker did not hire anyone to focus on the project until last week.
Brooke Todd, digital marketing manager of Ron Carter Hyundai and its sister Cadillac dealership in Friendswood, just southeast of Houston, is enthusiastic about the potential — if not about the canned copy and bland photos of new models that Hyundai suggested he post.
“The general public feels that by liking the Facebook page of a business, they’re going to be inundated by selling,” Mr. Todd said.
He has gotten far more engagement from original items, like a nine-second iPhone video he shot inviting people to come play the dealership’s Pac-Man arcade games, and links to news articles about the local economy and coming vehicles.
Mr. Todd also tends the dealership’s presence on Google Plus, which he believes helps improve its ranking in Google searches. He does not bother much with Twitter, where his posts elicit no response. (Twitter declined to comment on how auto dealers use its service.)
So far, Mr. Todd has not been able to trace any deals directly to his social efforts, but overall sales are up almost 50 percent over the past year, which he attributed partly to new digital marketing efforts.
Joe Castle, who runs one GMC and two Chevrolet dealerships in the Chicago area and founded a company, SocialDealer, to help other dealers manage their online presence, said that neglecting advertising is a big mistake
“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.
Carolyn Pawelek, the Spredfast vice president overseeing the Hyundai project, said dealers needed to learn how to create engaging posts before wasting money promoting them. “Most dealers in our system are not ready to place ads,” she said.
One of the keys to Facebook marketing success?
Thanks for posting that!
I ain't no expert in Facebook marketing, but... I've noticed something.
What is it?
The small businesses I've seen that have had the most success with Facebook are those that get people to share stuff related to their Facebook page...
(That makes it different from much "traditional" marketing... and perhaps more like "word of mouth" marketing...)
For example, one restaurant I know - Misty's Diner, an American-style diner in Melbourne, Australia (run by a lady from Arizona who married an Aussie)... does well out of Facebook...
They have a ton of photos, and are always adding new ones. Many of the photos are of the customers having a great time...
They also have a "burger challenge" (which is not common in Australia)...
If you manage to eat all the food in the challenge, in the allotted 14 minutes, you get a T-shirt! You also get your photo on the wall, and... of course, your photo will also go on their Facebook page!
Misty once told me (when I was dining there - she's not always there, but she often is) that she loved the TV show "Man vs. Food" - and I think she would get ideas from it!
Anyway... If you can produce stuff that people want to share with their friends, that seems to be one of the "keys" to Facebook success (without spending lots of $)...
At least, that's my observation...
Great comments Dien.
Many people like to see pictures of themselves so I've found that when I can tag people it helps. It also gets your post into the news feed of the friends of people you tagged.
Here is a personal example, my stepdaughter is competing in the June 2015 Miss SC Teen Pageant. Here is her facebook page for that venture:
We don't have anything to sell but we are looking for exposure so I consider someone liking the page as a conversion. When we post more than just pics of Lindsey (friends or other contestants) and can tag those people then we are increasing our reach. It really seems to work but of course we are not selling a traditional product.
It is a good learning experience for me.
Re: Auto Dealers Meet Facebook. Facebook Wins.
Dien and Rob, I like your ideas, also remember the article
did say that paid ads DID work, but that part is way down
in the article. One dealer was very successful using
facebooks ads I believe he said he cut his social media
marketing costs from $500 a month to $90 a month by
using paid ads.
Think about that from our point of view. Suppose we spent
$90 a month on facebook ads and sold the leads to car
Paid Facebook ads look promising
Yes Trevor I caught that in the article and I intend to give paid facebook ads a whirl so I can learn about them.
I think you have to be careful but they seem to have a great platform that starts with custom audiences (that is what really interests me).
Let me use Dien's example for how I would approach it
1) Have the burger contest... it is your widget to advertise/promote
2) Do everything you can at the time the customer is with you to get them to be your friend on facebook (you need that to tag them).
3) Tag the person in your picture post
4) Here is the magic... since you are friends with them, you can see the facebook user ids of anyone that has liked or commented on things on their page.... gather those ids.
5) Post a facebook ad with a custom audience of the ids you gathered and also add geographical restrictions (you really just want to reach the subset close enough to drive to the restaurant). The ad text would be personal to this audience... "Did Adam Jones have what it takes to conquer <<whatever>> ... Do you? Click like and view the messy pics"
6) I would just leave the initial photo ad up for a limited time but maybe switch to a similar ad later for this custom audience. Then maybe pause for a bit and then maybe turn on a 'throwback style' ad referencing the original person.
This is a very low volume but very targeted systematic approach. Also very cheap. The roadblock (i.e. opportunity) is that in order to make it worth the time you would probably need to automate the gathering of ids and ad creation. That could be done (probably against terms of service but again low volume so I wouldn't worry about that myself). The exposure should be trackable as well.
Just a few ideas bouncing around in my head.
Re: Paid Facebook ads look promising
looks like you are pretty experienced at this, interesting campaign
ideas you have mapped out. If you try this out, I think you could
make some bucks with it. As Alex Becker points out it is tough
to sell SEO, or websites or facebook pages to businesses, they
don't see the benefits. But businesses DO understand LEADS and
will pay for them.
Re: Auto Dealers Meet Facebook. Facebook Wins.
Some yrs ago I made Good Money from Car Dealers providing "Calendar Magnets" to Car Buyers (see Photo below)
I had a person at each Dealership take photos of the New Car Buyers standing next to their purchase and send them to me where I'd create a "Magnetic Photo-Calendar" and deliver to the Dealership....who'd then give them to their New Car Buyers as a "GIFT" from the Dealership.
The Car Buyers would place these mags on their fridges for 2 reasons:
1) a year long Calendar
2) a Photo they could Proudly show to friends & relatives
Car Dealers had 2 reasons to pay me for these
1) every person entering the Car Buyers kitchens would SEE the Dealer's Name
2) when Car Buyers came back to the Dealership to pick up their "Gift" the sales person would ask for Referrals
So.....THIS could STILL be offered to Car Dealers (I was getting $30 per mag. Nowadays (IMO) you could get $50ea x 80 cars sold a month = $4,000 A MONTH from each Dealer.
Plus......you could offer a FaceBook Page or a separate website to place the Photos. I made a 4ft by 6ft wood frame on which I'd place photos and mount the frame on a wall in the lobbies.
Re: Auto Dealers Meet Facebook. Facebook Wins.
Cool idea Don, I like the photo!
There are no end to the services you can offer car dealers,
They have a lot of money to spend too.
I remember reading about one guy who approached
a dealer with a pamphlet some kind of legal/accident
booklet that his customers could get if they purchased
a car. The dealer was a nice guy (A car dealer imagine!)
He told him the price was too low and ordered copies for
whole dealership and introduced him to other dealers.
The guy made thousands from a pamplet he made himself.
Re: Auto Dealers Meet Facebook. Facebook Wins.
Yup......another guy made a booklet for Attorneys (What To Do In Case of an Accident) that they gave to their clients.
Attorneys got the booklet for freebies AND.....the guy sold Ads to local biznesses.
Depends on who you approach, and how....
From my experience -- a few years ago -- all the major dealerships, like Ford, Chev, etc. are similar to franchises and the corporate office (10 years ago) looked after all of the Internet marketing including websites. They (the franchises) were all charged outrageous fees for this service, but it was written into their contract, and there wasn't anything they could do about it.
There was money to be made servicing small independent used car dealers, but most of the people who had these type of lots, were people who retired early from their jobs to run their own business, so they were well up there in age, and technically challenged. Even if you setup a Wordpress website for them with a plugin that made it easy to add new cars themselves, the task would be over-whelming to a lot of them.
Still, the fact remains, that more people 50 and under, will do a search online quicker than they would ever drive around town and visit used car lots. So these dealers would be smart to hire someone young who is technically savvy, and most of the people between 15-30 are a lot more web savvy about websites, social media and getting followers that you might think. So the used car lot owner could give a son, daughter, niece, etc. a part-time job to give them a hand with all of this stuff.
It's isn't ALL about advertising. If you're going to use FB and Twitter to promote your business, you need to also think far enough ahead to make it entertaining and engaging. No one is going to like your page or follow you on Twitter if the only posts are all sales related.
For example (this isn't car sales) while my daughter is attending college, besides having a waitress job, she also has another part-time job as a social media manager for a retired cop who is now running a consulting business. She is familiar with Wordpress -- had her own blog since she was 15.
So young people going to college needing flexible work hours and jobs... are really a perfect match for used car dealers. And if you were organizing all of this... one might make a good dollar or two.
Other recent posts on the forum...