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AKRON (June 9, 2014) — Possibly the simplest rule of marketing: be where your audience is.

You as an independent tire dealer or automotive aftermarket repair shop are a business-to-consumer company and you need to be where your customers are. These days, that does not mean you can set up shop on Facebook and think you have your bases covered—check out my last post about the future of Facebook. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, well guess what? Your audience is getting chatty.

Pinterest. Instagram. YouTube. These are all visual media that are blowing the lid off of traditional social media. Yes, that’s right. I said “traditional social media.” Social media per se is not a new marketing strategy anymore. It’s evolving. If grandparents can “like” every picture I post to Facebook, that means that there are new sites rising elsewhere.

According to Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 67 percent of marketers plan on increasing their YouTube marketing, while half of marketers plan to increase their use of Pinterest. I would expect these numbers to continue to rise.

To add to these statistics, 42 percent of marketers plan to increase their Instagram use, up from 38 percent in 2013.

The visuals are going up and one of the reasons why is because of its ease. Consumers have busy lives and may only have a few seconds to check out an infographic but not enough time to sit down for a few minutes to read a full article.

According to a Social Media Examiner article, “People connect more emotionally with images than they do with text. In fact, customers are more likely to take action or make a decision when prompted with an image.”

What to do

The first thing to remember is that there are different types of visuals: photos, infographics, videos, slideshows, etc. When you are getting into the visual game, remember you can utilize all the different options and figure out what your audience is responding to most.

Photos can be shared on all different kinds of social sites including photos from the shop or photo contests with your customers. I have seen some dealers utilizing “Meet the Staff” photos or “guess that part” contests where followers can guess the different auto parts.

While there are more photos being shared on traditional social media sites, visual-based social sites keep growing. Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc. have people flocking to them for different reasons.

Need quick tips? Check out Pinterest. Simply type in a keyword and photos linked to articles appear. On the Tire Business Pinterest page, we like to look up different recycled tires and other ways to repurpose a tire after its driving life is over. I see a lot of tire dealers on the site giving tips for car maintenance and other tips for their customers, including road trips and vintage automobiles.

Same with YouTube. There are lots of “How To” videos for people. Maybe you cannot get a lot of people into the shop to teach them how to change a tire or their oil, but they still need to know and might check out your videos.

There are so many ways to reach out with visual content. According to a BIZCommunity.com article, research has also proved that videos on a brand page increase conversion by more than 90 percent. The article also stated that 90 percent of content transmitted to the brain is visual, which is processed 60,000 times faster than plain text. These images can be shared quickly on social networks.

Krista Neher, author of Social Media Field Guide, has given some great advice on how to best utilize visual social media. First you want to include highly relevant images on all the pages of your website.

“This will ensure that your site is highly sharable on the visual Web and can drive more traffic, leads and sales to your site,” she said. “All pages, especially product pages and blog posts, should include highly relevant photos.”

She said one test you can do is to pin your pages on Pinterest and see what images show up for each page.

Including images on your social networks can help break up the text posts you have. Additionally, Krista said that trying out some of the fast-growing image sites — like Pinterest and Instagram — will help build your brand as it has for other companies.

What NOT to do

While doing my research, I came across so many articles that detailed the things businesses should be doing online. And then I came across a Web Pro News article that detailed what brands are doing wrong when they are looking toward visual media.

One of the biggest tips I got from this article is to let organic conversation happen. It seems simple enough, however, in the marketing game, so many companies focus on pushing out the content rather than to look at the content that their followers are sharing.

“The vast majority of engagement on Pinterest originates from content that was sourced by a consumer visiting a brand’s website,” the WebProNews article stated.

This does not mean a company shouldn’t be sending out content. However, just like with all social media, we want to engage with our audience, not just force feed them what we think they should know. Pay attention to what they are doing and see what you can connect with.

In the last social media blog, we had an infographic detailing what the future of Facebook could be. We spoke about how organic reach is dwindling, which is true, but the Web Pro News article said that website referrals from Facebook continue to increase. Whether or not you are having trouble sending out information, the content your customers are sharing about you is doing well, so remember to engage.

Apu Gupta, CEO and founder of Curalate Inc., a visual analytics company, said: “It really doesn’t matter which network is most engaging. Today, if your consumer is on a network, your brand is on a network, whether it’s an active participant there. So the real question should be do brands want to remain relevant to their audiences where they live?”

I know I have expressed in the past that even if you do not see a value in youR social media yet, your competitors do. And your customers do. And more and more marketers are seeing the value in visual marketing.

When you do start posting photos, what you want to always be aware of is not just doing a quick Google search and pulling a photo. Be aware of and understand copyright and fair use before taking a photo off a website.

As Sara Hawkins was quoted in a Social Media Examiner article saying, “If you use Flickr, Photobucket and similar resources to get your blog images, make sure you have permission and give credit to the original creator of that work.”

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Have any questions? Email me at jkarpus@crain.com or tweet me at @jenniferkarpus.

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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published March 18, 2019

Where can you expect to see the most growth in 2019?

Tire sales
45% (34 votes)
General automotive service
15% (11 votes)
Brakes, shocks and other undercar services
7% (5 votes)
Add-on business
15% (11 votes)
Anywhere we can get it.
19% (14 votes)
Total votes: 75
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