Social Media is not free. Many people think it is because the platforms give you real estate to use as you wish. If you’re using social media for personal reasons, there’s very little financial investment needed. However, if you’re a business who wants to connect with customers and prospects, engage them in daily conversations and ultimately drive leads and sales, you need to allocate a portion of your budget to invest in Social Media marketing.
I wrote recently that investment in social media is now a necessity, not a luxury. Many dealers and other business owners are warming to this idea but stop short of pulling the trigger. Why the hesitancy? Because when you don’t have all the facts or your questions remain unanswered, you’re not likely to take action.
Even still, many business owners don’t believe that sales will increase with social media marketing. They just don’t buy that it’s effective at generating leads, and that’s okay. What I’m advocating for is Information. I’m asking you to investigate the possibilities with those you trust. Seek out expert information from thought leaders in your industry and then taking action will seem like the next best step.
Making a financial investment in social media will only come when you have all the facts you need. In an effort to help you decipher which financial investment you need or where you might be lacking, I’ve compiled a list of the 6 factors that require an investment in social media marketing.
If you’ve been a regular reader of mine, you know I’ve been advocating for 5 years that dealerships grow their own in-house marketing manager or department. I’ve managed car dealerships my entire life so I didn’t come to this stance without careful thought and consideration. Social and online marketing is now so advanced that you must seriously consider growing your own talent. Here are the places you’ll need to invest in Social Media marketing:
1. Coaching for your marketing manager. One-on-one coaching is ideal because it focuses solely on the specific components of your store’s unique brand and helps your marketing manager work smarter not harder. I’ve had many clients come to me with someone who has the potential to walk on water but just doesn’t know where the rocks are. A coach will set attainable goals and show you how the results are meeting those objectives. Coaching usually starts out weekly and then progresses to larger time intervals as the marketing manager becomes self-sufficient and successful. You’re able to “grow your own” and have better control over the outcome of your marketing campaigns.
Before you hire, utilize the expertise of a coach/consultant to help you with hiring the ideal person. It’s hard to know for sure what metrics you’ll use to measure their progress so you’ll certainly want to have a job description in place before you move forward.
2. Training your staff. Content is what drives social media success. Very few users are interested in hearing about what you have to sell. They want to be entertained and informed. Remember “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) is the driver in everything we do. The content you post must be likable and/or sharable and training your employees is an integral component to achieving this.
The most likable and sharable content on a store’s Facebook page comes from the staff’s contributions. Employees should be trained on what to look for and how to recognize opportunities for content. Often, a weekly brainstorming session will happen between the marketing manager and the staff. This process is valuable not only for your marketing but for your online ratings. Every store must have an internal process for capturing those hundreds of happy, loyal customers’ opinions.
3. Tools and Apps. There are many great tools and apps that are free but once you start getting to the sweet spot in reaching your ideal customers, you’re going to need to invest in the more robust options. Why? Because you get what you pay for and you need the best analytics to do the best marketing. You’ll need content scheduling tools, landing page apps, social media monitoring (to measure your results), a WordPress website for your blog, and online reputation monitoring/management software.
4. Design work. Unless your marketing manager has been to design school or has a background designing online marketing materials, you’re going to need a designer. You need a seamless, consistent presence on all your chosen platforms including a profile pic, Facebook Timeline Cover, Twitter background and header and blog design, to name a few.
5. Advertising budget. Social media advertising is fast becoming the most valuable way to attract fans, followers, leads and sales. Facebook has spent its time and resources on gathering consumers’ preferences and created a very valuable ads platform for marketers. Being able to micro-target users is not only efficient but very cost-effective.
6. Social Media Marketing outsourced to a provider. If you choose to outsource, understand this: there is still a commitment needed from you and your staff to produce dealership-related content. Why? Because no one knows and communicates your store’s brand and local community like you do. That content is what sets you apart from the store down the street.
If you outsource, there will be charges for Social Media content management and charges for Social Media ads creation and monitoring.
In a dealership setting, outsourcing Social Media can cost you more money than doing it in-house and depending on the provider, can harm your brand. I’ve seen many dealerships getting burned by providers who post silly, irrelevant or benign content. I’ve seen some providers purchase Facebook Likes (which is against Facebook Terms of Service and really hurts your page when running ads). I’ve seen providers keep their clients in the dark about Social Media just to keep them from waking up to the reality that they can do it themselves with expert guidance and training.
If you don’t have the resources to do social media marketing in-house, a trusted well-proven provider can certainly get you the traction you need to communicate your brand online. It requires your commitment to collaborating on content and won’t succeed if you choose the “launch it and leave it” mindset. Never leave your online identity to someone else without constant monitoring and guidance.
Social Media is not free. However, investing wisely will help your store be remarkable online.