When it comes to social media, the numbers are astounding: hundreds of millions of users across multiple platforms. It’s no secret that social media has become a popular marketing tool for nearly any business to improve community awareness and customer loyalty, often for free. However, understanding the value and actually implementing effective social media strategies are two different things.
“A lot of shops go, ‘Great, I’m going to join all of these,’ and they end up not being able to juggle everything because it is hard to keep up,” says Jenna Gross, chief marketing officer at Moving Targets, a marketing company that frequently works with automotive shops. “It’s crucial for everyone to do it but don’t go too big. Don’t be on every platform and do a poor job with consistency and responding to people. If you’re just starting out with these, start small and keep growing.”
And when it comes to specific advice for multi-shop operators, Gross has a strong word of advice: Be consistent.
“More consistent branding on everything that they do is crucial,” she says.
Gross breaks down the top social media sites that every shop should be on and how to use them properly.
The platform: Facebook
How to use it: Most people only care about their car when they have to, Gross says, so you need to post content on Facebook that all drivers can relate to. That could be related to traffic, safety or weather. But don’t be afraid to show personality: Use a conversational tone, show personality, highlight employees or things going on at the shop. In addition, vary the types of posts: Links, images, videos, just plain text.
“Facebook’s algorithm changes all the time, so to reach clients, that’s one way to work around making sure you’re varying the content you’re posting,” says Gross.
And as with other platforms, engage in conversation. Respond to user comments, comment on other businesses’ Facebook pages and analyze the days or times when your highest volume of interactions occur.
Posting frequency: Post roughly four times a week. There are many tools (such as Hootsuite) that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, and you can even do so directly through Facebook. If it’s easier, take an hour at the beginning of the week, set the posts up and then monitor comments throughout the week. However, if something like a national crisis occurs, make sure to take down any posts that could come across as offensive or too lighthearted.
MSO tip: Look into Facebook ads. Gross says that through Facebook Ad Manager, shops with multiple locations can geo-target posts to reach specific areas.
“If you have two locations that are kind of close and the third one if further away, you can post just to that area’s span,” she says. “You can also run ads the same by. You can boost a post on your page, but if it’s only a special or an event at the one location, set your ad to only geo-target to that specific area.”
Gross also recommends looking into remarketing (where Facebook will target users who visited your site but did not fill out an appointment form) and custom audiences (which involved importing your email list to Facebook and matching those emails to Facebook users).
The platform: Twitter
How to use it: Gross says that unlike Facebook, where you can write lengthy posts, Twitter is all about headlines.
“What is going to attract their attention in a split second?” Gross says.
Keep posts on Twitter short and topical, but more importantly, get into the conversation. Use hashtags, retweet other users’ posts and reach out to people in the community.
“Don’t make it all about you,” she says. “if the place you always go to for lunch is great, reach out to them and talk to them. Be involved in your community and post about other people and things in the area, not just you blasting stuff out.”
Posting frequency: At least a couple times a day. However, Gross says that another tactic is to post roughly five times a week but have conversations with other Twitter users throughout the week, as well.
MSO tip: Twitter can be hit or miss, so it’s imperative that you figure out if it’s right for your shop. Take a look at your customer base, their ages and interests, and figure out if they are on Twitter.
“It depends on the shop’s demographic of clients,” Gross says. “Twitter seems to skew a little younger. It really depends on where your customers are and what platforms you should be involved in.”
The platform: Instagram
How to use it: Believe it or not, Instagram can be a successful promotional tool for collision repair shops. However, you need to make sure you’re using it correctly, says Gross. It goes without saying that Instagram is heavily reliant on shops taking pictures, so take the time to snap a few pictures (or quick videos) here and there. Those pictures could be of employees, events at the shop, cool customer vehicles, ongoings at the shop—anything fun and casual that’s going on. Most importantly, don’t use stock images, says Gross. Like Twitter, you can also use hashtags in your posts to reach more users, but using more than four can decrease the chances of your post being seen.
Posting frequency: If possible, once a day, preferably around 5 p.m. However, be careful not to post too frequently or in quick succession, a negative trend that turns many users off, according to Gross. If needed, posting only a couple of times a week is acceptable.
MSO tip: With multiple locations, the potential for opportunities to take pictures is greater. Highlight different locations, employees at locations, or special activities that make each location stand out.