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Social media: car dealer dos and don'ts

Social media

Ask any digital marketer how to run a successful social media strategy, and they will give you a list of what you should and should not do. We assemble the most common pieces of advice

DO: Resource

A social media strategy will only be successful if there are dedicated resources, from time to overall management, including responding and taking action when customers air their views should an issue arise.

Dave Cottrell, Volvo Car UK’s digital experience manager, said: “You should be ready to dedicate time and resources to community management and customer support, as well as using social channels for marketing purposes.”

Philip J Deacon, head of marketing at Marshall Motor Group,  winner of the 2017 AM Award for social media, urged dealers to have a team of contributors. This approach enabled Marshall’s content to be shared from its site using #marshallmoments, he said: “Use your people – they have great ideas, too.”

Marketing Delivery advises using clear social media icons on websites to make it easy for visitors to find and follow accounts.


DO: Engage and respond

Complaints, criticisms and compliments should all be addressed immediately, said Cottrell: “People will expect responses almost instantly if they reach out to you on social channels, so always be ready to reply. If you receive a complaint online, then it should be dealt with in the same professional manner that it would be if the customer had phoned or walked in to the retailer.

“If our target audience visits our social channels or interacts with us online, they should go away feeling better about us than they did when they arrived.”

Marshall Motor Group operates a strict online reputation management process, ensuring any detractors or advocates are contacted appropriately and promptly with direct tweets and customer concerns are answered seven days a week.

DO: Be interesting and have a personality

Deacon’s advice includes having a content plan and posting consistently with relevant, interesting and current content, incorporating videos and images to boost engagement. Sharing the “delight, joy and passion”, he said, also helps customer satisfaction levels and retention.

He said: “Have a personality and showcase it! We are very passionate about MMG and the brands we represent and we believe that comes across in our content. We are not nine-to-five either. We have a clear, approachable personality – it has been described as ‘friendly, light, customer-centric, current, engaging, interactive and fun’. We listen as much as we broadcast.

“A huge theme of our content is around #marshallmoments – this focuses on the people behind the “M” of Marshall. These include people and customer stories – which gain our highest engagement content.”

DO: Measure, track and learn

Marketing Delivery recommends dealers set up a Facebook ‘pixel’ that tracks visitors through their websites to help generate a remarketing audience for targeting using Facebook and Instagram ads. Including a UTM link –

customised code for a URL to track campaigns – in every update maximises exposure and directs more people to the dealer’s website.   

Cottrell emphasised the importance of tools for greater understanding: “Use insights from the analytics tools available and trial different creative and copy with new audiences.”

Deacon said: “We capture and analyse data in-house from social media channels to monitor our represented brands and site locations, address any customer service issues and generate new sales and service leads.”

DON’T: Follow popular or celebrity accounts

Marketing Delivery warns against following celebrities or popular accounts, managing director Jeremy Evans said: “If you’re looking to build up your followers, take a look at who the key industry publications are following, as these may be highly relevant for you too.”

Deacon said: “It’s quality over quantity. Having thousands of followers is not always a metric of success (especially if they are bots).”

DON’T: Post generic brand or sales messages

Content is crucial. Relevant, fresh and unique content is an absolute must, but many dealers fall into the trap of using material from their

manufacturer partners. Evans warned: “Don’t just post generic brand marketing messages. Your followers will respond to high-quality localised content.”

Marshall’s social media objective is focused on not selling products or services. Consumers don’t want to be ‘sold to’, said Deacon: “The objective is to showcase our company, our people, our products and services, our credibility and likeability.”


DON’T: Make the mistake of thinking social media is free

To reach the right audiences, dealers need a carefully orchestrated and targeted approach using sponsored content and advertising.

Cottrell said: “Always leverage the technical ability of the platforms, such as integration of CRM databases and pixels from your websites to make sure you’re optimising towards the goals and KPIs you set yourself. Nothing is free in this world, so be prepared to invest. You can spend tiny amounts to see how things perform and then you can step on the throttle when things go really well or take a step back to see why things aren’t working as expected.”

Evans said: “Don’t forget about advertising on social media, 40% of users will never ‘like’ or ‘follow’ a brand profile, so paid-for promotions are often the only way to target them.”


DON’T: Get stuck in a rut or follow the crowd


Nothing stays the same and social media is constantly evolving, Deacon said: “Be adaptable and agile in an ever-changing digital landscape. In our nine-plus years, our social media presence has evolved and has been adapted to suit the ever-changing digital landscape.

“Social media isn’t one-size-fits-all and just because everyone else seems to be on Facebook doesn’t mean you need to be. Choose your platforms carefully.”

Marshalls has four ‘E principles’ – educate, engage, entertain and empower (providing the local community with the opportunity to share and contribute), which form the cornerstone of its social media coverage. But Deacon also has several ‘don’ts’:

■  Don’t mix business and personal

■  Don’t desert your audience and neglect your profiles

■  Don’t just broadcast, listen too

■  Don’t post irrelevant content for the sake of engagement

■  Don’t overpost

■  Don’t ignore feedback

■  Don’t rely on automation

■  Don’t be needy (asking for retweets, feedback etc.)

■  Don’t sell

■  Don’t abuse #hashtags or hashtag current trends which have no relevance

■  Don’t get fixated on your number of followers.


Dos and Don’ts LinkedIn


LInkedIn is often overlooked, but can be a highly effective tool for senior managers establishing themselves as thought leaders, HR managers attracting high-calibre applicants and corporate sales managers seeking to connect with local business people, says Philip Calvert, an expert in lead generation on the platform and a speaker at AM’s digital events. He provides his thoughts on using the channel:


■  Fully complete your profile

■  Make sure your profile contains words and phrases relevant to your expertise – make a list, order them in importance, select your top five and put them in every section by weaving them into prose

■  Customise your URL using your keyword (Calvert’s is ‘social media speaker’)

■  Connect through your profile so you can personalise the message

■  Every Monday, go through your notification stream, which shows how many times you appeared in searches for the previous week. If you are attracting the wrong audience, change your profile

■  When connecting with people you don’t know, do your homework and find your common ground (a colleague, same location, etc.)


■  Go into sales mode

■  Forget to be human and remember to say ‘thanks’

■  Put your profile live without a photo.


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