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Social Distance ≠ Social Non-Existence

Article Highlights:

  • Learn what kinds of social content audiences are reacting best to.
  • Show the human side of your dealership.

In this episode of Reynolds’ video podcast, Connected, Amberly Montgomery, Operations Manager for Naked Lime Marketing, talks about how dealerships can utilize thoughtful social media strategies to effectively communicate with their communities while practicing social distancing.

 

Greg Uland: Hello, I’m Greg Uland, marketing director at Reynolds and Reynolds, and this is Connected, the podcast with best practices and ideas to help navigate what is happening in the automotive retail industry and the world today. As the COVID-19 virus continues to change our world and how we live and work daily, this podcast discusses ways to continue operating in this unprecedented social environment. On today’s episode, we have with us Amberly Montgomery, operations manager at Naked Lime Marketing. Amberly, thanks so much for joining.

 

Amberly Montgomery: Happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Greg.

 

GU Of course. I’m hoping to talk today about social media. There’s obviously a big audience out there right now, but not many are actively searching for a vehicle or need a service. With that in mind, what are some best practices that you’re seeing that dealers can implement on their social media channels?

 

AM: I think the most important thing to remember is that social media is a channel to deliver your message. By itself, social media doesn’t do anything. You really have to develop content and a voice that represents your business and your brand, and then you can use social media to deliver that message. And this isn’t really a particularly new concept, but especially in times like this, were throwing ads and specials out there to the masses. It won’t be nearly as effective. This is really important to keep in mind.

 

GU: Yeah, for sure. And with that backdrop, what should the messaging look like? I mean, every dealer is unique, obviously. But in general, what are some things to keep in mind that you’ve seen be successful?

 

AM: Yeah. This can be the tough part. I think there’s three main principles that we like to keep in mind and that we’ve seen be most successful with engaging customers. First and foremost, is to be human. It’s always worked the best when you’re using social media, to be as a business communicating to its consumers, but as someone communicating to another person. And right now, everyone’s craving that human interaction and connectedness. It’s really important when you put yourself out there and your employees out there, that you’re being genuine with the population. So being human again, first and foremost

 

The next thing I would say is be really empathetic and compassionate with your base. Every individual, myself included, is responding to this situation very differently. You’re impacted by the situation in one way or another. We need to understand that and craft a message with that in mind, without belaboring the point. Whether your state is in quarantine right now or at a stay-at-home restriction, everyone knows that.

 

In order to be effective in communicating, I think the last thing you need to work on is sharing positive, optimistic, and really helpful content. Not to harp on the fact that many of us are at home, but to help consumers find positive ways to occupy their time and share content that can inspire others. I’ve seen a lot of positive posts on my feed and that’s really a way to quiet the conversation on quarantine and provide a really positive perspective that everyone’s really, really yearning for right now. That all sounds really great in theory, but you can think of really simple ways, whether you can share how you and your team are making the most of the social distancing that we’re under, and is there a way or a fun way to show the things that you’re doing to keep your team safe? Are there things that you’re doing in the community that you can showcase? I just think about the really successful brands that I follow, and they’re really mastering these three principles when they’re sharing content right now.

 

GU: Very good. What, and I’m kind of curious here, are you seeing anybody have any success at all still posting vehicles or advertising vehicles via social media?

 

AM: I think you really have to be strategic with this and it’s going to vary by location and brand. But I really think it’s successful when posts or ads are targeted to these low-funnel buyers. The consumers who might have already been thinking about buying before this started, and now they’re looking for really specific inventory and aggressive offers. This is typically smaller audiences than your normal targeting and needing to target those audiences with the right message and the vehicles that they’re looking for is ever more important. If you do continue to advertise these vehicles, what I would recommend is really evaluating your audience that you’re targeting, making sure your offers are really prominent, and then you’re checking on your inventory very frequently. When you’re doing these things, I recommend once or twice a day looking at audience offers and inventory. Then after you post the ad, I think this is a place where people forget, check on the performance of that ad. Use what you learned from that ad in that audience, and tailor your next ad or post based on that performance. And then you can use audience lists and re-marketing lists, in order to make it more effective as well. But again, the last thing is to make sure the bulk of your content is still focused on this human and helpfulness posts for the core of your audience.

 

GU: Very good, that makes sense. One of the things that you mentioned a little bit ago, Amberly, was social is sort of the way to deliver the content. To go back to that a little bit when you think about the content, are there any specific types of content that you’re seeing be best used right now?

 

AM: Since it’s such an interesting time, I really think it’s a time to try new things. Possibly things that you and your dealership haven’t done before. Whether that’s a long form content post like a blog or writing a story about one of your employees and what they’ve been doing lately, or possibly some community driven content. Anything that can really highlight something that’s going on at the dealership or within the community, I think could be a good post. Some other things I’ve seen work well with some of our clients are a social media post, a short form content in the form of a picture. We’ve created some stay-at-home bingo cards and some car mad libs. We’ve even completed some coloring pages that some of our dealerships have been posting. And all of these things are really great for consumers who are at home and they’re looking to fill their time in a fun way.

 

Use short form, long form, one of my favorite forms of content that at least I consume is video. Video right now can really help with that human connection. It’s a great medium for how-to’s, whether that be a really popular service that people could master at home while they have some extra time or how to use an underused feature in a car. I bought a car five years ago and I know there’s still features in my car that I haven’t used that I would love to learn how to use today. If you can think of one of those features, possibly within the entertainment dashboard that can apply across your brand of vehicles, I think that would be really helpful for your base. Other things I’ve seen with dealerships are virtual test drives and walk arounds. These will really even engage consumers that might be starting in the research phase and are just really curious what the inside of their next vehicle might look like. So just super simple. Always have your cell phone at hand. I think these types of video ideas can pop up when you definitely least expect it.

Lastly, I would recommend something I’ve gotten really into during quarantine, similar to what we’re doing right now, and that is audio content or podcasts. We’ve seen dealers using this podcast format to either talk to their employees or talk to other small businesses in the area about what they’re doing in this situation. What I think is really great about this avenue is it can continue even after we go back to normal. You can have a way to generate content that you didn’t have before that came out of this situation. But again, the last thing I would say, whatever form of contact you use and keep those principles in mind, be human, be compassionate, be positive, be helpful, and remember to create the content for the consumer and not yourself.

 

GU: Very good, Amberly, I really appreciate you taking time to come on today and spending some time talking through this stuff. While we’re here, while we have the audience, and before we hop off, is there anything else that you would want to touch on or anything that you want to say?

 

AM: I would just say to everyone: stay safe, be kind, and take care of each other. Treat everyone like they’re your neighbor. And then let that show through all the social media that you do.

 

GU: Well, thanks again, I really do appreciate you hopping on.

 

AM: Thanks, Greg.

 

GU: Absolutely. This has been Connected. Stay safe, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

 

Continue to tune in often to see new episodes on best practices and tips for navigating the automotive industry during this unprecedented time.

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