Social media has dramatically changed the way businesses market to their customers. With 4.95 billion social media users around the world, the potential of reaching larger audiences has never been greater. And by 2027, this number is expected to hit 5.85 billion.
If your specialty dealership is behind the curve on leveraging social media to garner interest, now is the time to get started. Let’s dive into how you can harness the power of social media:
What Are the First Steps to Social Media Marketing?
Know Your Audience
With any form of marketing, reaching your target audience is the ultimate goal. As you build your online social media presence, keep your customer segments in mind.
- What kinds of content would they like to see?
- Are they interested in short-form videos, static images, or informational articles?
- Do they want to see stock photos and videos of this year’s latest RV models?
- Would they prefer engaging, adventurous videos of customers riding their speedy jet ski or snowmobile?
Preferences vary depending on customer demographics, so keep generational differences in mind when deciding what types of content and platforms to use. For example, the Go RVing Owner Demographic Profile found that 84% of 18- to 34-year-olds plan to buy another RV. Since this age group consists of both millennials and Gen Z, you’ll want to consider their differences. Millennials are most active on Facebook and YouTube, while Gen Z uses Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok more than Facebook. Knowing your audience is essential for determining where you should engage with each group online. With a DMS that keeps your customer records in one place, you’ll have access to useful information to help you decide the best platforms for your business.
Choose the Right Social Media Platforms
It seems like a new social media platform pops up every month, but determining which one(s) will successfully reach your customer segments is more important than trying to keep up with the latest trends.
The key is to meet your customers where they already are. Facebook currently holds the title of largest platform, with over 3 billion monthly active users. According to Statista, Facebook’s largest audience consists of men between the ages of 25 and 34. YouTube trails behind as the second largest platform, with 2.4 billion monthly users. Of these, 21.2% are between 25 and 34 years old, and 16.9% range from 35 to 44 years old. Instagram and TikTok follow suit with 2 billion and 1.5 billion monthly users. Instagram’s largest audience consists of individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 while 36.6% of TikTok’s users fall between 18 and 24 years old.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to be everywhere online, but you do need to be somewhere. Take a close look at your current customers and the groups you want to target in the future to help you choose the right platforms.
Determine Your Goals
Before you dive headfirst into social media marketing, take some time to establish achievable goals. If this is the first time you’re using social media, make a goal to spend a few hours a week exploring the platform you’re focusing on and learning its features. After you feel more familiar with the platform, make a goal to grow your following from one follower (you) to 10 followers by the end of the first week. From there, you can begin to make more long-term goals. You’re in charge of setting goals that fit your needs, but having some in place will help your social media journey feel more manageable.
Social media platforms don’t completely run themselves (at least not yet). When committing to building your social media marketing strategy, it’s important to delegate who’s in charge of making sure you have new content to post to the right platforms at the right times. Designating an individual to handle social media will keep the task from falling through the cracks during busy periods.
Planning ahead will help you stay on track with your social media marketing goals. For example, you can strategize more effectively if you brainstorm content in advance and determine which days you want to post. If it helps, you can create a weekly or monthly social media calendar to keep your ideas in one place. If your dealership has an event coming up, plan to post at least once before the start date and during the event.
You should also proactively look for engaging content your customers would enjoy. For example, if you’re an RV dealer, you can share articles that list the top RV travel locations for the current season. Planning will prevent you from putting social media off during a busy week at your dealership. If you already have the content ready to go, all it takes is a push of a button to keep you on schedule with your goals.
What Social Media Best Practices Should You Follow?
Much like when you’re learning a new skill, social media marketing and account growth require consistency. If one of your early goals is to commit to posting on each platform at least once a week, make sure you don’t skip a post when it gets busy. You can make this task easier by posting the same piece of content on various platforms. For example, post a video of your lot’s inventory to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube on the same day of the week. Once you’re more comfortable with the process and have brainstormed content ideas, you can increase the frequency of your posts as you see fit.
Pro tip: When you post the same content to different platforms, make sure you tailor the captions accordingly! For example, on X (formerly Twitter), there is a limit of 280 characters, so you may have to trim down your longer captions to fit the requirement. Along the same lines, Instagram does not allow you to link to external sources in your captions, so you won't be able to post direct articles on your Instagram page. The type of content you post ultimately depends on which customer segment you're aiming to reach on that platform, but try to remain consistent when possible.
Engage Your Leads
Providing interesting, engaging, and informative content is a surefire way to gain and keep followers. It’s also a great way to get them interested in what you have to offer! It may not be until the second or third time they come across your posts that they visit your website or reach out with an inquiry.
There are a variety of ways you can engage your leads on social media, and it’s important to mix up the type of content you post. Some examples include:
- Showing off your new units in the form of photos or videos
- Sharing customer stories and submissions (with their permission)
- Reposting industry news articles
- Highlighting your employees’ personal experiences (like their recent RV trip or snowmobile experience)
Don’t be afraid to get creative!
You can drive engagement even after your posts are published. Be on the lookout for comments and direct messages so you can reply promptly to your leads. Going the extra mile allows you to continue fostering relationships with current and potential customers.
Link to Your Accounts
Make it easy for people to find your accounts. You should connect your social media accounts in the footer of emails sent out to your customers and leads, and your website should also display them in the header or footer of the page (scroll to the bottom of this page for an example). When all your content is connected, your prospects can find the information they’re searching for efficiently and effectively — which will positively impact their opinion of your business.
Analyze Your Activity
Many platforms offer ways to analyze your social media account activity. You’ll receive insight into what time of day or week your posts receive the most engagement, what type of content tends to do the best, and where your growth potential lies. For example, if a post receives a lot of impressions (views) but very little engagement (likes and comments), you can try to alter that type of post in the future and see what gets more engagement. With these helpful insights, you’ll be able to make improvements to your social media marketing strategy and drive more success over time.
How Will Your Dealership Benefit?
With billions of people using social media around the world, the reach potential of these platforms is almost boundless. Crafting your social media strategy and staying committed to your goals will increase awareness of your dealership and strengthen your digital presence along the way.
Stronger Customer Relationships
Social media provides the perfect opportunity to learn your customers' preferences and needs. You can read through comments on your various posts to see if customers have any complaints or compliments and consider their feedback during your daily operations.
By posting consistently and sharing interesting content, you’ll stay top of mind the next time your followers are looking for a new RV, boat, trailer, or other specialty vehicle. Who knows — maybe their next purchase will result in a new customer success story to share on your social media accounts!
Greater Return on Investment
Although many social media platforms offer paid advertising opportunities, you can still achieve impressive results with organic posts (content shared without spending money to boost engagement). Organic social posts cost nothing except a bit of time and energy, and as awareness of your dealership grows, so does the potential for a successful sale.
Social media has a profound influence on people around the world. The sooner your specialty dealership embraces the popularity and effectiveness of social media marketing, the sooner you’ll witness increased awareness, stronger customer relationships, and measurable success.