Dealers everywhere are trying to figure out the mystery of Facebook and social media and many are looking at the sheer number of “likes” on their fan page as a measuring stick for success. A lot of likes on your page is nice but being friends with people in India won’t translate to too many sales. Focus on something much more important, the number of people that like your page in your local community, people that potentially will turn into customers!
When you start a Facebook fan page, there are a few things you want to do to get the ball rolling. First, create a vanity URL for your page (facebook.com/username). Caution: Put some thought into what you want your vanity URL to be because you can’t change it after you make it. Best practice is to go with the dealership name and it will make it easier for people to find your page plus it will also rank high for your business with search engines.
Next, you want to create some content on your page that is fun and inviting since fan pages can be viewed by anyone but your goal needs to be to get people to like your page and stick around. People typically aren’t interested in being friends with a car dealership so be friendly and use Facebook more to sell your dealership, people inside of it, and your love for your local community as opposed to using it as an extension of your offline advertising.
Now that your page is ready, it is time to get some serious growth going with the locals. Here are five things you can do now to increase your LOCAL Facebook likes!
Grow from the inside out
Start with people who already have a relationship with your business. Create buy in from your employees and their friends and family. Put up signage in your dealership and make sure your service and sales customers know how to find you on Facebook. Design business cards to hand out to people with your Facebook URL on them. Send out an email blast to your customer database letting them know you’re on Facebook.
Membership has its rewards
Though it isn’t really a membership to like you’re your fan page, let people know the advantages. Offer coupons only on Facebook, make your online community feel special and they will become more passionate about your brand. They will become brand ambassadors for your business and will start telling their friends and family to check you out. Plus, this preferential treatment will increase the intimacy with your community as will the trust.
For example, we have a client that has a Facebook day every month in his service department where they give free oil changes to anyone who is on their Facebook page. The first time they posted this special, there were a lot of people asking what the catch was but there wasn’t any. About a dozen people took advantage of the free oil change and several went back to Facebook to thank the dealer. Second month they posted the special and only a couple of people asked about the catch and by the third month, nobody was asking.
Have a contest
First let me say that the prize does not need to be huge but everyone likes winning something. Carve a small portion out of your monthly ad budget like $500 and have 20 trivia contests giving away $25 gift cards each. This will really get people talking and you can take their pictures when they come in to claim their prize and post the pictures on Facebook. I promise you this will get people chatting about your dealership more than $500 more of your television ads.
Cross promote with other local businesses and non profits
Find non competitive businesses like restaurants in your community that are active on Facebook and share events and specials they have going on. The law of reciprocation is a psychologically tested law that says as humans we have a subconscious need to return actions in kind. Basically, when people are nice to us, we want to do the same and vice versa. These local businesses will turn around and do the same for your dealership.
This is especially powerful with non profits because there is usually a higher level of passion for non profits. Share information about blood drives and fundraisers happening in your community. Consider having one yourself at the dealership. Just recently, we had a client rent a dunking booth and have a fundraiser entitled “Dunk a car salesman for cancer”. The dunking booth cost $250 but they over 200 people come out to try to dunk a car salesman and the event raised almost $1500 for a local cancer charity.
Use Facebook application to show on your retail website
Facebook has an application or widget where you can post your fan page to your retail website and it will update in real time with your activities. Now it only shows your activities so this is another important reason to keep the content fun and exciting. People can click through from your website directly to Facebook and like your page. Most dealers already have a lot of traffic coming to their website, take advantage of that and increase your Facebook following.
Well, this is just a few ways to grow your online following but it will get you headed in the right direction. Remember, having a lot of likes from people in the Middle East may help you answer the geography questions on Jeopardy but it won’t help you sell more cars. Think local and grow local!