Social strategy for the selling season

By Colleen Malloy

Think your target customers aren’t spending time on social media? Think again. According to research released by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX), the average American social media user spends 3.2 hours per day engaging with their social channels — and those demographics aren’t limited to teenaged girls on smartphones. Notably, 35- to 49-year-olds report spending 3 hours a day on social media, and 50- to 64-year-olds report spending 2.4 hours a day engaging with social channels.

If you’re like a lot of outdoor power equipment dealers, your social media strategy is probably pretty basic. However, given the growing pervasiveness of interactions on social media as a driver of our opinions and online actions, it’s critical that you consider ramping up your social media efforts as the busy season fast approaches.

Where to start? First, it’s important to determine which social networks you’ll engage with. While ARI recommends Facebook, Twitter and Google+ at a minimum, it is critical that you only expand to the number of social networks that your dealership can actively engage with on a daily basis.

That’s right. You need to be tuned into your social accounts on a daily basis in order to reap the rewards of the social platforms. If you can’t, don’t dilute your efforts by adding new networks like Instagram or Pinterest just because the dealer across town did. Master your presence on your established accounts, and only add new networks as you have the time to properly manage them.

So what do you need to do to be successful on social media in 2015? We’ll start with your daily action plan and move on to some strategic social tactics that can help you reap the most return on investment (ROI) out of your social efforts.

Social Media Action Plan (Part 1): Social Listening

It’s called social media for a reason — your social channels aren’t intended to be a soapbox; rather, you should view them as a venue for genuine interaction with your customers and prospects. In fact, according to Edelman’s brandshare 2014 consumer marketing study, nine out of 10 consumers want to have meaningful interactions with companies on social media.

How do you create those meaningful interactions? Start listening! Here’s your daily social media listening action plan for a few of the top social channels:

Facebook:

  1. Like posts shared about your dealership.
  2. Reply to any new posts and messages from customers.
  3. Comment on and share any relevant posts from local media outlets and the major brands that you carry.

Twitter:

  1. Check your “Mentions” tab to see new interactions and followers.
  2. If you’re still in the process of growing your follower base, take the time to thank new followers.
  3. Star and retweet relevant posts from local media outlets and the major brands that you carry.

Google+:

  1. Welcome new additions to your Circles.
  2. See if any of your Google+ content has been shared by others in their Circle, and thank them for sharing.

Social Media Action Plan (Part 2): Social Posting

ARI’s digital marketing services team has years of experience managing dealer social media channels, so I checked with Lisa Buller, ARI’s director of digital marketing, to find out what content really connects on social media. Buller shared what she calls the 70/20/10 rule:

* 70 percent of your social content should be entertaining, educational and engaging. Links to your dealership’s blog posts, retweets of interesting articles from consumer magazines, and shared content from manufacturers all fit the bill.

* 20 percent of your content should reiterate your dealership’s branding, but should NOT focus on direct sales. Event invites, links to videos on new products, and testimonials would all fall into this category.

* In that final 10 percent of your content, you can more directly ask for the sale. Posting links to your new and used inventory, information on your next sale, and manufacturer promos would all be included here.

Buller also emphasized that your social media content isn’t one-size-fits-all platforms. Personalize your content to match the unique format of each social media platform.

Now that you know what to post, the natural question of how often next arises.

Socialbakers studied three months of content on Facebook from some major brands, and on average, those brands post once a day. When a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57 percent of the likes and 78 percent of the comments per post. The drop-off continues as more posts are made in the day, suggesting one post per day is the optimum posting frequency for Facebook.

The Socialbakers team also took 11,000 random tweets from top brands and found that the three-tweets-per-day mark offers the highest level of engagement.

While the study didn’t cover ARI’s third primary recommended social media platform, Google+, we’ve found that daily posting on Google+ is also optimal.

Social Media Tools

While managing all of your social channels can become a bit overwhelming, there are many popular third-party tools that make it possible to manage all of your social media accounts from a single dashboard. I absolutely recommend taking advantage of one of these platforms not only to simplify your social listening and publishing, but also in order to measure the success of your social media initiatives by utilizing the analytics functionality included in many of the leading platforms.

Here are a few industry leaders to consider:

Hootsuite: www.hootsuite.com

Sproutsocial: www.sproutsocial.com

Buffer: www.bufferapp.com

Be sure to talk to your website provider to see if it offers any industry-specific tools to help automate your social media posting process.

Sponsored Social Media Posts

Now that you’re ready to put your daily social media management plan into action, let’s take it a step further.

Purchasing sponsored social media posts on your social channels can extend your social media reach, helping you influence potential consumers beyond your follower base. When you create a paid social media campaign, you have the ability to pinpoint the demographics of the consumers you want to target, including data points like age, geography and gender.

While the 70/20/10 rule is critical for your organic social media efforts, you want to make sure that your sponsored posts and advertisements have a clear offer with a call to action. For example, you could take visitors to a landing page to enter your dealership’s spring giveaway — don’t miss the opportunity to generate hard leads and sales from your social spend.

Social Commerce

E-commerce is growing in popularity as an additional profit center for OPE dealers. If you’ve introduced e-commerce to your website, be sure to take advantage of your paid and organic social efforts to drive online revenue.

Social media commerce is projected to generate 5 percent of all online retail revenue in 2015 — ringing in at $14 billion. Social networking sites understand this trend and are making changes to make it even easier to purchase directly from within their platforms.

Bottom line: The days of social media without the potential for ROI are over. Whether you’re using your social efforts to drive online leads or help make the sale, be sure that social selling is a key part of your 2015 social media strategy.

1504_OPE_FS_Social Strategy2_author-Colleen Malloy-web

Colleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of an award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”

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