It is no secret that social media is vital for growth and branding for nearly all business types – for an automotive aftermarket company, having a strong social media presence is just as important as having business cards these days. But some companies still don’t quite understand how they can harness the power of social media and use it to their advantage. What should you post? How do you sustain it? Will it really grow sales?
Before you can answer those questions it’s important to understand what social media is and how it’s used. The average person uses social media to connect with other people, follow their favorite brands, and to interact and share information. They use it for networking and entertainment, and in some cases for education. It’s become the fastest way for people to consume and share content. In the automotive aftermarket this usually includes catchy photos and entertaining videos. The more interesting the content, the more shares, comments, and likes – which is what you’re after. And most users do not want to be marketed to.
How to Market Discreetly
So how do you market your business through social media when the average user doesn’t want to be marketed to? The short answer is to develop good content that keeps your brand and products front and center without actually advertising them. Create photos and videos that inspire people, which just so happen to be product related. Share videos from important industry events that you want your brand to be aligned with. Tell engaging stories about your customers, employees, or industry partners that your target audience can directly relate to. Discuss technical issues your customers face, and provide solutions to those problems. Mix in an occasional giveaway or promotional message from time to time. Content is all around us!
An Example of a Company Doing it Right
Take a look at how some key brands in the industry are using social media. “If your company isn’t already on social media, you’re missing out,” says Ainsley Jacobs from Hebron, Indiana-based Precision Turbo & Engine. “Social media helps Precision move from simply a manufacturer selling some of the best turbos in racing to an enthusiast’s friend – someone they share with and communicate with, someone they have a personal relationship with and can contact easily,” she continued. “That relationship and ‘friend’ mentality is more valuable than any sort of paid advertising. Studies show that consumers usually trust their friends’ recommendations more than an ad, and word of mouth is an incredibly helpful marketing method. Social media helps to take advantage of this, and much more.” (source: PRI article by Ilona French).
Precision Turbo is a great example of a company in the industry that is maximizing their reach and exposure through social channels and building relationships through direct interaction with their audience. They don’t attempt to use all of the social outlets, instead they focus on a few, likely the channels they get the most engagement from – Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter. And you can see by looking through their social profiles that much of the content they post on one account is also posted on the others, most likely using some social management tools, posting a couple status updates per day.
What is the Competition Doing?
What I typically advise clients to do is make a list of the top 5 brands in their market, including direct and indirect competitors. This list should include companies widely regarded as the best in the industry for their niche. Take a look at their social profiles and see what they’re doing. Find out where they’re participating, how often they post, what they post about, and what content gets the most reaction from their followers. In the case of Precision Turbo you see a lot of status updates showcasing customers who use their products, race events where they have customers participating, in-house project updates, and promotions. Nearly everything they post has a visual component – either a photo or a video, which has become critical for generating engagement (shares, comments, and likes). And if you’re not getting engagement, you’re wasting your time. You’ll find that most of the top brands in social media follow a similar strategy. Many will also include key enthusiast forums in their social strategy for the markets they cater to.
Content is King
The key to any successful social media strategy is content. You will need to invest time and energy into generating content. Your followers want to see solid technical info, interesting photos and videos, inspiring stories, etc. The content should be tailored to them. They should be able to relate to it and want to share it with their network. It can be something simple, like behind the scenes peeks into the daily operations of the business, or a few photos of a customer vehicle you’re working on, or event coverage where your company participated. If your business is involved in racing go out and invest in a GoPro and learn how to use it! Take your smart phone out any chance you get and snap some photos. Use every opportunity available to gather raw content.
Strangely enough I still come across business owners in the aftermarket who haven’t embraced social media yet, saying something like “we just rely on good old word of mouth”. While not everyone has caught on to the opportunity, most companies have realized that they have the ability to shape word of mouth discussions about their brand, planting seeds in social media and heavily impacting perceptions about their company.
If you’re short on time and don’t have the resources to get all of this content edited and posted yourself, consider hiring a dedicated employee to manage it all, or partner up with a third party agency to get expert help at a reduced cost. If you need help with your social media efforts, feel free to send us a note for a free consultation!