Holly Jones, Marketing Executive at 1st Choice Insurance, a leading independent commercial insurance broker based in the West Midlands, guides you through how you as a motor trader can get Social Media savvy in 5 simple steps.
It’s the last thing on your mind; you’re busy running a business, your interest is fixing vehicles or tuning an engine and Social Media can be the cause of headaches for many, so why should you even bother with it?
Well the answer is quite simple really, it’s everywhere, everyone uses it (including your potential customers) and not to mention it’s free! Did you know that out of 2.4 billion people accessing the internet, a whopping 74% of them use social media sites?
Social media gives you direct access and communication with your potential customers to grow your clientele with little to no cost involved. So, if you are not already utilising this way to promote yourself and your business, why not?
1 – Getting started…
Social Media isn’t as hard as it looks, in fact a lot of the tools used for creating posts are so easy to use, that it can be tempting to just put content up whenever you feel like it or have the time. However, as with all marketing, it’s always a good idea to have a plan in place, after all you don’t want to get sucked into spending hours a day on your social media instead of doing your actual job.
When making a plan, first thing to look at would be setting your goals and objectives. Create simple goals that are specific, easily measured and attainable. There is no point in giving yourself goals you cannot reach and you can always set yourself more once you hit them. Base your goals on factors that will have a real impact on your business. Perhaps, aim to acquire customers or increase engagement, rather than simply racking up likes.
Next, research your competition. How do your competitors use social media? While you don’t want to copy them, learning from what others have done is a great way to discover the best direction for your content. Taking inspiration from other businesses in other industries is another great way of looking at what works and what doesn’t. It can also be a great idea to ask your followers what they want to see more of, then give them exactly what they ask for.
Then, create a social media calendar for your plan. A social media calendar will help you post the right content to the right social channels at the right time.
2 – Platforms to use
You can always conduct your own research into the best platforms for you, but thinking about the Motor Trade specifically and the little time you want to be spending on your Social Media. The top platforms to be looking at would be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and potentially Instagram & YouTube if you are going to consider video content too.
Focus on quality over quantity, with the sheer number of social media marketing options for small business might seem overwhelming, but you definitely do not need to do it all. It is far more important to create quality content on a couple of key platforms than it is to have a presence on every network.
3 – What to post – content tips
With content, the right balance is key. You do not want to bombard your followers with ‘BOOK AN MOT NOW’ on every post, because a lot of people don’t like the hard sell and they’ll just lose interest quickly. Try starting with the 80:20 rule. Use 80% of your content to inform, educate, or entertain your audience. Then use the other 20% to promote your business or what you are selling them.
Although your social media pages are there to represent your business, they don’t have to be all business all the time. Be personal, customers love to be able to relate to the people behind a business, it makes them feel special and like they know you. Creating posts about topics like an employee’s birthday, a business anniversary, about your pets or a special visitor to your premises are the kinds of things your followers will love to see.
Proving your expertise within the industry is great for content and gaining new customers, why should your follower choose to use your garage over the one closest to their house for example? If you can prove your expertise, especially if you are new to your field. Doing this will give ideal customers a firm idea of your brand and what your business is about, as a result they will go the extra mile with you. Video and blog content is a great way to achieve this, even if it’s just simple and educational, think along the lines of ‘How to get your vehicle winter ready’ and ‘Step by step: How to change tyre’.
Also, when you visit any industry blogs or magazine sites and come across some relevant news or helpful content, share it with your fans. They’ll love it and deliberately choose to follow your page, knowing they can trust you to be informative and knowledgeable.
So how do you make all this look good, without being a Graphic Designer as well as a Mechanic? I would personally recommend using a simple design platform like Canva, Snappa or Stencil. They start with a free plan with reasonably priced options for their premium services, provide you with ready-made templates to get you started and then you can change the fonts, colours and images to match your businesses branding.
4 – When to post and time management
‘I don’t have the time for all this’ I hear you cry, but after your initial set up you can easily put a straightforward schedule together, which will take you no more than a couple of hours a week to maintain.
I mentioned creating a social media calendar earlier, once you have that calendar plan in place, you can create your social posts in advance and use scheduling tools to post them automatically at a time of your choosing. This will allow you to dedicate one block of time per day or per week to creating and posting your social content. It’s certainly more effective than letting social media take you away from other tasks throughout the day, like replacing Mr Smith’s rusted up exhaust on his Astra Hatchback.
I’d suggest using a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Both these platforms offer a free basic plan with additional features available at a monthly premium. Not only can these management tools help you implement your calendar, they can also help you consolidate all mentions and messages directed at your company in one dashboard. Then you can respond and engage with your followers without having to log into each of your individual social media accounts.
Learn to appreciate those users who share your posts and retweet or comment on them. They are the future of your social media marketing. Respond to them whenever possible, thank them for their simple act that only took them a couple of seconds out of their day, make them feel appreciated, so that they will do more to engage with your content in the future. Plus, it looks good to other followers and suggests that you will be just as attentive when it comes to customer service.
5 – How do I know it’s working?
As you execute your social strategy, it’s important to track what works and what doesn’t. You can then fine-tune your plan to improve results. You can use analytics tools to give you a great picture of your social efforts and they can help track which metrics matter most to you. Each Social Media platform tends to offer their own ‘Insights’ or ‘Analytics’ sections on their sites, but if you’re using a social media management tool then they will often have a place where all these stats can be combined in one place.
In social media marketing, unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You have to just take one step and master it before proceeding with another. It will take time to see any solid results, but it will all be worth it if you are patient and consistent.
No matter the size of your business, social media can help you connect with your audience, reach new potential customers and increase awareness of your industry expertise. As I previously mentioned, you don’t have to do it all and if it still all seems too overwhelming, why not just start small and get comfortable with one platform before branching out?
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