Facebook recently topped 2 billion monthly users, and 1.28 billion people are now using Facebook daily for an average of 20 minutes per visit. While Facebook and other forms of social media offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and to connect with existing and potential customers — don’t forget to keep it “social” as well.
As great as social media can be as a tool of communication, please beware of over posting — or overloading your customers with too many posts. Overly abundant posts is a main reason why customers will unfollow your page. Research suggests you should limit posts to one or two a day with 80 characters or less and choose to display a variety of content. Do note that an engaging question that prompts a lively discussion can do far more for your dealership than simply reposting or sharing everything one of your manufacturers’ posts, or only making posts with the sole intent of selling something.
Powersports dealerships are certainly businesses that can benefit from what social media offers. Create a page that is welcoming to your customers and attractive to prospective patrons. Just think, most powersports enthusiasts share in the same community that enjoys the fun and excitement of the open road or the backwoods trail and feel a certain kinship with members of this community. Thus, the goal of a dealership’s social media should be to treat invited and accepted “friends” as family. When a customer frequents your dealership to buy a new or used vehicle, to service the unit or to purchase parts and accessories, the customer becomes a part of your dealership family. Social media pages focused on this sense of community and celebration — not just trying to sell people something — will help to create trust in and loyalty to the dealership and keep customers coming back and supporting your dealership.
A key component in creating a sense community and family within a dealership on social media is to commemorate the purchase of a new or used vehicle. Whenever possible and with permission, take a photo of your customer capturing that big “just bought a new bike” grin in front of your dealership to post on your page. Tagging the purchaser in the photo will increase the likelihood that all of the customer’s friends may see the post – and know which trusted dealership was chosen to make that purchase, yours! The celebratory post also allows your dealership an opening to welcome the buyer to the family!
To assist in making the best presentation of any social media post, dealerships should consider investing in a quality camera and spending time learning an editing program to create professional looking images. Cropping, balancing, adjusting tone/color and choosing interesting subject matter will do wonders for the attractiveness of posts. The dealership cover photo should be taken on a day with clear, sunny skies, so the colors really pop. According to research, posts with a photograph get 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more clicks – well worth the effort.
In order to be consistent and effective, the dealership needs to maintain the daily responsibility of social media postings. Communication with customers is essential, and people who post questions and comments to your page expect a prompt reply. Initially, 10 minutes two or three times a day should be adequate to properly maintain a page. Scheduling posts for effectiveness is another helpful consideration. Studies have found that the peak time of the day for Facebook activity is mid-afternoon, and the top days for visitation are midweek. Programs like Hootsuite or Buffer allow users to set up posts ahead of time and analyze when customers are most likely to see posts on the newsfeed. For example, if a dealership had a big Saturday and sold a lot of new units, Hootsuite can schedule posts intermittently over the week, when customers are more likely to see your content. These programs can also assist users in easily duplicating efforts on other platforms like Instagram or Twitter to reach customers who may use a plethora of social media.
Another way to use social media successfully to build business is consistency. A steady flow of high quality and interesting posts will engage your customers and keep them coming back. Even during lulls of activity for the powersports business (i.e., weather, time of year), customers will enjoy posts that heighten anticipation of that next ride. Use social media to promote a series of rides, clinics, vendor days and any other fun activities that customers would enjoy, and keep an up-to-date schedule of events to increase the level of interest over time.
In closing, many dealers want to focus on the direct sales approach to social media and try to garner an immediate return on the dollar invested. Facebook, like paid advertising elsewhere, can be useful to target new customers in your area, but try to use the dealership page to focus more on the social community aspect of business and keep things light, fun and informative. Social media is an excellent opportunity to treat customers like family and build customer loyalty. Spotlight the fun and enjoyment of owning a powersports vehicle, and business will grow with the help of Facebook and other forms of social media.
Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing ten different Powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.