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Social media has come a long way from its niche as a special interest plaything for early adopters and is now part of the fabric of our lives. We use it to broadcast our views, support friends in times of difficulty, share happy news and stay in touch with our families. Facebook recently passed the milestone of over 1 billion daily users – an incredible statistic.
With this interaction only likely to increase, it is surprising how little is understood about the possibilities for companies to reach new and existing customers through these channels.
Over recent months, Trusted Dealers have been experimenting with social media to see how even with only a relatively small audience, it is possible to punch through to engage with people
Over this time, we’ve learned that the right strategy can lead to even a relatively small brand out compete a market leader. Used well, social can sell anything… a brand, an idea… even cars! We have many observations to share, but thought we’d choose 5 themes to help you on your way.
Most businesses have some kind of ‘feel’ about what their customers look like – but few take the trouble to actually test that instinct against actual data.
If you don’t have customer profiling through data from Experian or Hitwise, you can still mine your website visitors to see who they are.
Google Analytics – a free website measurement tool for business owners – includes demographic data that tracks your users’ browsing habits to determine their age, gender and interests. We found that our visitors were actually older males from 45 upwards.
We then compared that data against the people who liked our Facebook page and discovered that although our followers on social media were actually younger females, the people who actually interacted most with our posts were these older males.
If you keep a record of customer email addresses, you can upload them to Facebook through their audience manager tool. Not only will Facebook find a significant number of those people, but can also build a “look alike” audience of people of similar age, gender and interests. You can then target advertising and posts specifically at those people – and there’s no one easier to sell to than an existing customer!
Based on your existing site statistics and follower profile, you can decide whether to devote more time talking to that demographic or whether to try and grow towards others.
When you’ve identified your audience, you then have to speak to them in a way that resonates. But there is no perfect formula that will let you do this first time around. At Trusted Dealers, we initially thought that competitions would help us extend our reach, but discovered that actually nostalgia was the most powerful tool in our armoury, given our demographic. Posts about the latest supercar fell flat – but a post comparing the original Golf GTi vs. the original Peugeot 208 GTi quickly led to week-long, passionate and often very funny discussion. If you want people to see and recognise your brand
As Facebook has evolved, it has moved from a free model that rewarded the most ‘naturally’ interesting posts, towards a model that rewards advertisers. That means that unless you’re really lucky to be sitting on a story or idea that is instantly worthy of becoming ‘viral’ on its own, you’ll have to spend some money to put your posts in front of people. But, it is possible to learn a lot with relatively low spend. When you’ve found out which type of post resonates with your audience and gets the best engagement, it becomes easier to justify spending the cash. Combined with incentives – perhaps vouchers or a giveaway – you can soon foster a community of people who will recognise and remember your brand the next time they’re in the market.
Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to recognise that social media is a 24/7 phenomenon. People will be browsing at all hours of day and night. Buried amongst conversations taking place on your page will be genuine customers asking genuine questions: and you’d better be there to answer them in a timely fashion or risk losing their business. Having someone permanently connected to your page via a smartphone is the best way, but if that isn’t possible it can be as simple as diarising a task for the beginning and end of each day to check for comments and questions that need a response.
While most dealers now have a solid PPC strategy in place, there is still lots of untapped potential for growth in social media. As a new generation of customers arrive in the market place, they will expect to find you there – and the sooner you start to dig into the data and develop a strategy, the better your chances of success.