It may be hard to believe but we’ve been seriously talking about automotive social media for at least 12 years. Are we finally at a point where the retail industry is ready to take control over how they are perceived online? I believe we may be entering a time where it’s standard practice to own your social media.
What does it mean to own your social media?
Years ago, when social media was catching fire like the gas station in Zoolander, everybody wanted a piece of the action. Thousands of “social media experts” showed up promising rainbows and unicorns to organizations in search of ways to engage their customers. Handing things off to the “experts” seemed like the best solution.
Today, however, people (ie: your customers) are expecting so much more from retailers. They want to see content from you that means something and it’s very rare that an agency can achieve meaningful engagement with your customers. Over the years, a wedge has been driven between retailers and their customers by agencies, “gurus”, and the manufacturers, and it’s time to fight back!
If you want to bring customers closer (and you do, right?), you need to bring your social media management closer, which means doing it in-house.
How do retailers own their social media?
If you’re going to take control back, you need to know how. Here’s how modern retailers are doing it:
- The majority of images and video are of staff. They feature everyone from salespeople to porters to service techs, advisors and even the accounting office.
- They encourage staff to stay involved with social media and even create content.
Each employee has their own unique expertise. They often bring great ideas to the content creation table and this is golden for social media. The content is richer, more well-rounded and generally met with much higher engagement.
Why? Because employees know your customers. They’re on the front lines with them every single day and they speak their language. Example: you can post about a $199 lease special and no one will engage. Post about an employee’s anniversary or birthday, and you’ll get everyone to chime in.
- They help employees feel included and valued through a ‘culture of caring.’ It’s long been said that when employees feel cared for and valued, they are highly motivated to make your customers feel that way too.
- They have a dedicated office/studio on site to record video, and provide quality equipment with which to record.
- They provide training for staff.
Why would retailers want to own their social media?
The fastest way to connect with customers is through social media.
When you own your social media, you have full control over what’s being said about you online. Developing a strategy for what you want to say and how you want to say it, provides that control.
Content is more trusted when it’s from employees
While people do like content from brands they follow and will click on social ads, content is more trusted when it comes from individual employees. This makes sense because employees have the insight of their company, are more human, and typically are more trusted than corporate leaders who have a more vested interest.
Customers perceive employees as “people like me.” Employees are trusted more than any other representative in your company.
Happy employees who share their expertise by way of social media send a very clear message to customers:
“This company is trustworthy and I can feel safe and comfortable doing business with them.”
When you go one step further and showcase employees as thought leaders in the industry, the company receives more recognition online. Employees reap the benefit of their voices being broadcasted, paving the way for more referrals, leads and sales. The company looks smarter because its employees look smarter.
Owning your social media allows you a direct connection to your customers.
Let’s face it, there are many changes ahead in automotive retail (and we’ve already been through a lot!), so why wouldn’t you want to maintain control over those customer connections you have and build on them?
Most retailers will not heed my call and choose what they perceive is the easier route to let an agency or vendor “provide social media” for them. My hope is that you’re different. You’ve already done a lot to adapt to digital retailing and you know there’s even more coming. I encourage you to own your social media now so that you’ve got a solid base of raving fans for when the tide turns and your competitor is dog paddling his way to the shore.
Got questions about owning your social media? Need advice from someone who’s a retail veteran AND been in the automotive social media ecosystem from the start? Get in touch with me here and I’ll back to you within 24 hours.