This article originally appeared in the October edition of OPE Business.
When I talk to dealers about implementing social media efforts into their overall marketing plans, I’m either met with excitement, disdain or indifference. In my experience, no other marketing channel is as divisive as social media, especially as it relates to Facebook. It can be both frustrating and revolutionary depending on how you use it.
The fact is, as the medium has grown and evolved, it has become infinitely more complex and powerful. So the trick for dealerships has consistently been how to utilize the medium in a way that makes sense for the dealer and for the customer. I’ll break down some myths and give you some insight into how you can harness the power of Facebook without being swallowed by it.
In the early days of Facebook, you could reasonably expect to see almost every post that was made by a friend or a brand you followed. It provided a user-centric experience and an easy way for brands to reach their customers for free. But free isn’t exactly a great business model. So Facebook started forcing users to “boost” their posts so the content you could been by more people. Boosting essentially means you are paying to get more eyeballs on your content. But there are more effective ways to advertise your brand than by simply “boosting” your post.
Most marketing agencies, mine included, manage advertising campaigns from with the Facebook Business Manager. If you haven’t set up a Business Manager account for your dealership, we highly suggest you use this as it will become your hub for managing ads and provides more in-depth tools for your campaigns. You can create your Business Manager account here: https://business.facebook.com/
By creating this account, you can assign your assets to marketing partners without giving them admin access to your Facebook page. This is not only prudent so those outside of your organization can’t hijack your page, but also technically required by Facebook’s terms of service.
Now that you have a proper business manager account, there are two major things you need to do to properly use your enhanced ad manager.
- Create and configure your Facebook Pixel. This pixel is to be placed on your website and will allow you to see what actions are taking place on your website. You’ll be able to track page views, phone calls and many other actions, but it’s most important so that Facebook can automatically optimize your ad campaigns. For example, when you set up a new ad, you can specify which goals you want to optimize your ad for. If the goal of your campaign is to create new leads, Facebook will auto-optimize your campaign to generate more leads using the data the pixel provides. Your Facebook pixel will also auto-create audiences that will allow you to target visitors to your website, among other things. Speaking of audiences…
- Create audiences. In my experience, custom audiences and saved audiences are the single biggest factor in increasing the effectiveness of your Facebook ad campaigns. You can set up your ideal audience to target by choosing demographic data, occupational info and what other pages they like. For example, if you are a Cub Cadet dealer and you wanted to run an ad about a sale on your XT2 Enduro Garden Tractors, you might set up a target like this:
Gender: Male & Female
Location: 25 mile radius around dealership (or if you want to get fancy you can target by county or DMA)
Interests: People who like Cub Cadet on Facebook or have shown an interest in Cub Cadet, mowers or lawnmowers.
You can create saved audiences for each of the lines you carry and you know that you will be speaking directly to people who have shown an interest or affinity for that particular manufacturer and are the most likely to purchase. The next step is to then create a Look-alike audience that will allow you to expand the reach of your ad to people who act like the folks in your new saved audience. Once these audiences are set up, you can use them over and over again and maximize your reach while minimizing budget waste.
Organic Posts – Engagement Matters
As I mentioned earlier, organic posts (free posts) only get seen by a fraction of the people who like your Facebook page. There is magic in creating content that gets seen by more people. Some of the factors are:
- Recency of the post
- How frequently you post
- Post engagement – How many people are interacting with your post by liking, commenting or sharing.
- Past user interaction – Has the viewer interacted with your posts before?
There are tons of ranking signals so this isn’t an exhaustive list, but they’re a few of the most important. So think about which content most users want to interact with. Are they really interacting with the generic content that every dealer gets from the manufacturer? Or are users interacting more with your post about how you donated to the local little league team?
At the end of the day all of the content matters, but I typically urge dealers to focus on content that’s personal to them and ultimately it will be personal for your customers as well. Use 4:1 as a general ratio of personal to promotional and you’ll find that is a good mix.
At the end of the day, dealers need to remember that social media is supposed to be, well, social. The more you treat it as an extension of your personal brand, the more it will flourish.