What do Kylie Jenner, NASA, John Deere, your local congressional representative, and your next customer have in common? Give up? They’re all on social media.
A smart dealership will use social ads and automotive social media content to show up at key moments in the car buyer’s journey. Let’s talk about where social media fits into the car buyer’s journey, and how this can vary depending on which social media users we’re talking about. Then we’ll take a look a video content on social media, mainly because it is so important to modern auto shoppers. We’ll wrap things up with a look at ways you can make the most of your automotive social media campaigns.
Where social media fits into the auto buyer’s journey?
A Facebook-commissioned study found that seventy-eight percent of all car buyers consider social media useful in choosing a car. Our own research indicates that the most popular platform for exploring dealerships and brands is Facebook, and that forty-seven percent of car buyers spend time on Facebook Marketplace. Google found that video content in general, and YouTube in particular, is great for getting car buyers to the lot. Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and the other platforms all have something to offer at various stages in the customer journey – be it as a tool to connect directly with dealerships and manufacturers, a means to learn about sales and special offers, or a place to chill and scroll through pics of sweet rides.
Social media sees a lot of action, but not everyone uses it in the same way (compare Katy Perry’s Instagram to a patent lawyer’s LinkedIn). If we focus on a few overlapping demographic groups – men, women, and Hispanic buyers – we can see that a great automotive social media marketing strategy is rarely generic.
Here’s what the Facebook study had to say about men and women. More women than men (81% to 76%) cite social media as a valuable car shopping tool, and women are more likely to share auto-related content on social (52% to 47%). Among buyers who discovered new vehicles online, sixty-four percent of women and fifty-one percent of men said social ads helped them learn about new cars, while thirty-nine percent of both sexes cited family and friends as being helpful resources. Women find promotional messaging in social media content more useful than men do (42% to 32%), and men are more likely to cite video as being the most helpful type of content. These aren’t Chanel Coco vs. Axe body spray-grade differences, but they are significant for audience targeting, planning out social content, etc.
What’s unique about the Hispanic market? Twitter found that Hispanic buyers are the most likely to use Twitter to ask direct questions about vehicles, as well as tweet on automotive topics. This market segment is highly active on mobile, and is quicker to adopt new technologies than the general public. This suggests that mobile friendly social content, making sure you stay engaged, and keeping up with the latest and greatest developments in social media is a smart way to approach this young, booming market.
The best way for car dealerships to approach social media in general is to understand who their local market is, what the major platforms do, how people in their market use the platforms, and what content approaches – be it Facebook ads, slice-of-life Instagram pics from the showroom, or polished videos from the manufacturer – do the best job connecting throughout the car buyer’s journey.
The Billy Ocean classic “Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” has inspired more than its share of dealer marketing since 1988, but it’s actually a decent way to think about video content for auto sales. Video helps the viewer imagine him or herself the driver’s seat in a fairly immersive way. This immersion happens when the video is focused on an ordinary part of driving, like using the center console; or a less ordinary part, like driving at hundred miles per hour on a closed course in Italy. The greater purpose of video is to take the viewer from “the dream” – for example, the image of good-looking couples going to the beach in a Jeep – to “the car” – being one of the good-looking couples that show up at the beach in a Jeep. Billy Ocean nailed it.
Every major social media platform supports video content in some shape or form, with YouTube being the most video-centric. We take a detailed look at YouTube ads here, so let’s talk about the basic ways that customers are using video content. These will apply to a fifteen-minute review on YouTube, a thirty-second ad posted to Facebook, or a ten-second Snapchat video.
Car buyers use video to discover new vehicles – Eighty-three percent of Americans drive cars regularly, but that doesn’t mean that eighty-three percent of Americans are car enthusiasts. Many consumers, probably most, don’t pay a lot of attention to cars until it is time to buy one. And since video is becoming a big part of shopping in general, it makes sense that car buyers would use it to sort through all the makes and models.
Car buyers use video to compare and contrast options – A comparison might be as mundane as the difference in trunk size between two nearly identical sedans, or as dreamy as sorting out which car James Bond would be more likely to roll up to a casino in. Video brings both stories to life in an immersive way.
Car buyers use video as a bridge between the online world and the dealership – Google found that video is valuable in early shopping moments, in particular when the customer is trying to figure out which car is best for him or her. It also found that video does a good job of bridging the gap between online research and dealership visits. When a car buyer is searching YouTube for terms like “[brand/make] + reviews” and “best luxury cars,” chances are good she will be showing up at a dealership soon.
Video ads, virtual tours, and other types of content are great for education, engagement, and keeping your dealership top of mind.
Focus is key.
Ok, so you’ve got great social content. How to you use it to guide the customer to your dealership?
The key is making sure your automotive social media content shows up for the right audience. There are several ways this can be done
Targeting and retargeting – Targeting is sending a social media ad to a certain audience – an example might be a YouTube ad that shows up for users searching “Ford F-150.” With retargeting, you are sending an ad to people who have visited your website in the past, which is an excellent way to keep your name out there throughout the customer journey.
Lookalike audiences – Lookalike audiences are audiences that share key features with your existing customers. Maybe your car dealership does well with families who earn more than 100K a year and enjoy cultural events. Lookalike audience targeting gets your ad in front of people who fit the profile.
Boosted content – Every come up with a great Facebook post? With boosted content, you pay Facebook to strategically share it with a wider audience.
Facebook automotive inventory ads – With Facebook automotive inventory ads you can upload your entire inventory to the platform, along with info like make, model, and interesting features. From there, Facebook generates custom ads based on user data. One car buyer might want a sports car, another might want a minivan. Facebook inventory ads give you the power to target both without creating separate campaigns.
What’s the next step in your social media journey?
We hope you’re ready to get on social media and get all the likes. If you’re looking for a partner, LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE offers sophisticated YouTube and social ad solutions, as well as social media management help built on automotive social media best practices. Brand listening, bumper ads, dealing with bad reviews, we do it all.
Contact us to find out more about our complete automotive marketing solutions.