An introductory guide for dealers thinking of using social media to drive footfall

It is an ever more complex landscape for car dealers looking to sell their stock. The old days of the Friday evening classified in the local paper are long gone.

John Hughes MD 

Today, there are a plethora of marketing platforms, some distinctly more expensive than others. One of those options is social media.

In the UK specifically, there are now 45 million social media users. This equates to 67% of the entire population. Even more notable is the fact that 96% of UK social media users visited a social network or messaging service in the past month and every day, the average UK user spends 1 hour 50 minutes scrolling through social media sites.

A key point to note with these social media users is that, of the 45 million UK audience, 39 million are mobile social media users. So, as you plan your social media activity, if you are not optimising your campaigns for mobile, then your content may not have the desired effect.

As with all potential marketing platforms, there is no single social media option, there is a choice: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn. When it comes to the audience for car dealers, the first three probably offer the greatest opportunity. To help you fine-tune your choice, here is a brief summary of each of them:

Facebook: Facebook is the most popular social media channel with the largest user base. Of all internet users in the UK, 78% of them use Facebook. Of particular interest to dealers is that users in the core car-buying age category (25 – 54 year olds) feature prominently in the UK, with only a small gender difference.

People on Facebook connect with friends, like-minded people and groups to share content, links, photos, videos, and events. Dealers can promote content organically and through paid promotions, but remember to connect with them; as with any social media, you will need to be ‘like-minded’ and walk in their shoes.

YouTube: The video-sharing platform has over a billion users, where people can view, upload, rate, share, subscribe to and comment on content. YouTube is ranked as the UK’s second most popular social media channel with almost as many users as Facebook. Unlike other social networks, where users scroll passively through newsfeeds, YouTube users are intentionally searching on the platform for videos to watch and typically people spend 40 minutes using the service at any one time. This makes car-related video footage a valuable commodity.

Instagram: Instagram is a visual social media platform based entirely on photo and video posts. Although demographics veer towards younger users, older people are starting to embrace it more and more.

At the beginning of 2019, there were an estimated 24 million Instagram users in the UK. This is 42% of the UK’s population. The gender-split is slightly skewed towards females (54% vs 46% males).

5 Top Usage Tips

  1. Follow a plan – Social media needs to have objectives; naturally gaining car sales has to be one of them but don’t forget that you will need to establish and build brand awareness and develop engagement with your customers – relationships and trust matter! In addition, the sheer volume and variety of people posting activity on social media means that you have to have a plan to cut through to your target audience.
  2. Be Good at It – Success is not about a single hit of an occasional campaign. You need to be good at social media – and this means being social (the clue is in the name); be interested and interesting to people, post stories that are topical.
  3. Avoid Controversy – As a dealer, your social media presence is a business one, but be aware this may be linked to your personal profile. Avoid controversy at all costs with inappropriate posting on any of your profiles. Your intentions may be humorous, but things may not play out that way to people who don’t understand your humour. Make sure your wider team follow this rule when mentioning your business.
  4. Be Rapid – People hate waiting for a reply on social media – they want instant gratification. 42 percent of consumers complaining about social media expect a 60-minute response time. Make sure someone is monitoring your presence continuously.
  5. Finance Promotion Must be Legal – With the regulatory spotlight on dealer finance, do not avoid your legal obligations. You cannot just say ‘Buy a car for £99 per week’, as there are detailed regulations to be followed. For guidance on compliant advertising using social media, click here. And you’ll find the FCA rules on advertising finance here.

In such a brief article, we can only provide a high-level summary, but we hope it helps to stimulate your appetite to give it a try!


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