Engaging Your Customers, One ‘Like’ at a Time
Leona Dalavai Scott
If the world of Tweets, Shares, Likes and Followers seems overwhelming, take a look at these successful efforts by shops just like yours to see how you can maximize these newest marketing tools.
How do you create “top of mind” awareness with your customers in between visits to your shop? With the growth of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, shops are realizing these 21st Century marketing tools can help them connect with and engage their customers in a whole new way. An added bonus is that they are free and easy to use, for the most part!
To build social media relationships with your customers, owners need to be able to look at their businesses through a whole new lens, says Dick Cross, best-selling author of Just Run It and an AutoInc. contributor. Writing in the August issue, Cross says, “You have to reconfigure how you are seen through the lens of social media by your customers. To include things that might never have entered your thinking before. That will keep them supporting you. And will encourage others to give you a try.”
Gone are the days when you simply advertised in the newspaper, Yellow Pages or even online. It’s not enough to boast that you have the best customer service in town. Now you have a variety of social media platforms at your fingertips to show your audience.
Here are some profiles of four shops that have had success engaging customers through social media. Learn from their experiences and lessons to gain the confidence and know-how you need to build brand awareness for your shop … it’s easier than you think!
Terry Wynter Auto Service
Platforms Used: Facebook, Angie’s List and Yelp (among many others)
Facebook Likes: 324
Social media goal/objective: Our primary goal is reputation management. We believe [if we have] a presence online supported by a good reputation in social media sites, potential customers will have the confidence to contact us for automotive services.
Kay Wynter, co-owner of Terry Wynter Auto Service, shares the marketing responsibilities for the shop, along with an outside firm and assistance from ACDelco. She said the shop initially created a social media presence based on the advice of their marketing company, training with ASA and their affiliation with ACDelco. They were skeptical at first, but with the nominal costs involved, they thought they would give this new method of marketing a try. They have been pleased with the results.
“The value of social media has now proven itself as a great tool for referrals and brand awareness,” says Wynter. “We all know that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and in a training class on social media, the instructor made the statement that social media is ‘word-of-mouth on steroids’ … instead of one person telling 10, social media allows one person to tell hundreds.”
The shop has come up with some creative ways to build “Likes” on Facebook. They have developed a flyer to give to “raving customers” and request that they convey their experience on one of the social media sites where they have a presence. In addition, they offer all of their customers $5 off of their bill if they “Check in” on Facebook. Wynter says that idea has been popular with their customers and she feels like $5 is a reasonable advertising cost to get their customers to tell their friends where they take their car for service.
Wynter’s advice to shops thinking about getting involved in social media is to determine what level of involvement you would like. That is, Terry Wynter Auto Service has decided to use a blended approach to their social media involvement to be more hands on. Other shops – based on individual needs – may choose to turn to other companies to manage their social media marketing.
Wynter’s tips on what to promote on your Facebook page:
Wynter says all of this involvement conveys an image that they are a progressive, state-of-the-art shop.
Mayfield Collision Centers
Platforms Used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Facebook Likes: 308
Social media goal/objective: To turn our customers into advocates for our brand, and to encourage repeat and referral business from an audience that knows, likes and trusts us. We don’t want them to think about taking their car anywhere else! Cheryl Senko is Mayfield Collision Center’s marketing and relationship manager. One of the first things she did after she was hired in 2012, was to launch the shop’s Facebook site.
Tom Griffin, owner, had done very little traditional marketing or advertising over the years preferring to wow his customers through extraordinary service to maximize repeat and referral business. As his business grew to a second location, he hired Senko to promote his shops to new audiences and to build a formal marketing plan. It turns out Senko was pleasantly surprised that social media was a natural evolution for Mayfield Collision, which is based in South Euclid, Ohio.
“Social media turned out to capture and project all the great grassroots-type of marketing that Mayfield Collision Centers had been doing all along,” says Senko. “It gave us a platform to tell our story in memorable and compelling ways. Once Tom [Griffin] saw the level of interaction on our page, he recognized the potential social media has to differentiate and promote our brand.”
In addition to daily posts, the shop has had success using targeted advertising (directly pointed at consumers by ZIP code) combined with charitable partnerships to build “Likes” on Facebook. For example, for every “Like” the shop received on Valentine’s Day, it donated $1 to the American Red Cross.
Senko said Facebook has given the shop a strong start with social media, but points out that you can’t overlook other platforms.
“It’s important to remember that your audience can be anywhere – Google+, YouTube, Slideshare, LinkedIn. And more. They don’t all act like you do! I was surprised to see a review for us on Foursquare. Even if you can’t participate in all of the social platforms, you’ve got to monitor and pay attention to what the chatter is saying about your brand,” says Senko. LinkedIn has been effective in supporting the shop’s outside sales efforts with insurance agents and dealer partners.
Facebook posts highlighting their employees have been most successful for the shop. Senko says they plan to increase exposure of their employees on Facebook. “They’re one of our most popular posts,” she says. In addition to posting employee birthdays and anniversaries, they are also going to welcome new employees and promote other “shout outs” that feature employee recognition by the shop. And next year, they are planning to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a joint social media page and live event promotion.
Senko has realized in her experience that some of the best social media campaigns haven’t been planned months or even weeks in advance. “Social media is often about capitalizing on an opportunity – seizing the moment. A post could be about that happy customer who brings in food – always a great post – or the local K-9 police dog stopping by to say hello to our team because we sponsored his bullet-proof vest.”
Here are some tried-and-true tips from Senko for achieving Facebook success:
Platform Used: Facebook
Facebook Likes: 129
Social media goal/objective: To create a more personal relationship with our customers so that we stay top of mind with them between visits, and we want to share information regarding what is happening at the shop.
Yingling’s Auto in Topeka, Kan., takes a simple approach to their social media. Sticking to a single platform, they have accumulated a loyal group of followers on Facebook using an outside firm to manage their social media activity.
Yingling’s Auto has experimented with a variety of different types of posts including contests, special promotions and trivia questions. But Pete Fail, service manager, says there wasn’t much involvement. “Now we post a funny cartoon or picture every morning at roughly the same time. People come back every day to check out the post. Now that we have them used to doing that, when we add ‘informative’ posts, they seem to be viewed/Liked/Shared. “If people think your page is nothing more than an advertising site, they won’t come back and all of your efforts are in vain,” says Fail.
Here are some ideas for posts from Fail:
Keep your posts fun and light-hearted!
Nagy’s Collision Specialists
Platforms Used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Facebook Likes: 739
Social media goal/objective: Our main goal is to keep our name in front of as many markets as we possibly can.
Nagy’s Collision Specialists, with eight locations in Ohio, has been having a 40th anniversary party on Facebook, inviting all of their customers along for the fun. And looking at their analytics, it sounds like everyone has been having a ball!
Leading the marketing and public relations for the shop is Maria Hostetler, director. Back in 2009, when the shop took its leap into the worlds of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Hostetler said that buy in from owners Ron and Dan Nagy was easy because they were open to discussing and trying out new marketing techniques, especially when it involves technology!
Hostetler built up their social media efforts through posts celebrating employee birthdays and anniversaries, fun contests, photos galore and videos. They are especially pleased at the feedback they have gotten on their 40th anniversary celebration.
“We started January 1 and every 40 days we do a giveaway on our Facebook page,” says Hostetler. One of the best postings on Facebook for this year was when we did a giveaway for some of our 40th anniversary T-shirts. The post reached 3,565 people, had 508 engaged users, 439 people were talking about it and it had a 12.31 virality.” “Virality” is when an electronic communication is quickly and widely spread or popularized especially person-to-person. Industry opinions vary on what is a good virality rate on Facebook, but many agree that on average a 1.92 percent rate is impressive.
For Nagy’s Collision Specialists, Facebook has been the best platform for their social media messaging. But Hostetler says with the high following Twitter has with younger audiences, businesses cannot overlook that reach. “We are trying to focus on that and learn as much as we can to possibly one day have that be the best tool on our social media tool belt,” she says.
Tried-and-true tips from Hostetler:
Where ever you stand with your social media efforts, know that any step – large, small or in between – creates a social media footprint that can build brand awareness for your shop. Apply these tips and knowledge to your shop and see where you land!
5 Tips to Start Engaging Your Customers Today
Mallory Picard is a social media specialist at Autoshop Solutions, an ASA associate member in Apex, N.C. She tells how you can get started on making the most out of your social media efforts.
According to Hubspot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report, customers are 51 percent more likely to make a purchase after “Liking” a brand on Facebook. Eighty percent of consumers say Facebook is how they prefer to interact with brands, and 46 percent of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision. – M.P.
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