Previewing social media in 2015, dealers' opinions
AKRON (Jan. 6, 2015) — Social media has been a hot topic in recent years, with tire and automotive aftermarket dealers figuring out their place on the platform and what the return on investment is.
While some tire dealers are still not convinced this platform is necessary for their business plans, others are grabbing the chance to interact with their customers not only via more “traditional” social media sites — like Facebook and Twitter — but also are looking toward more diverse, visual media such as Instagram.
Tire Business' social media blog has been tracking these trends for almost two years. Here is a look at what some tire dealers are saying about their experiences on social media and what they are looking forward to in 2015.
Demographics on social media
One trend that continues is that Facebook, while still considered the No. 1 social media network, is losing steam with younger demographics, which many businesses are trying to reach.
“I'm most curious to see how (Facebook) advertising continues to grow in more effective ways and if they continue to attract the younger demographic,“ said Mike Miculinich, president of Auto Tech Centers Inc. of McHenry, Ill., “because I heard some reports that they are losing the young subscribers.“
The flip side to younger demographics' flocking to other social media sites is that it opens an avenue for businesses to target older demographics.
“I'm most looking forward to the new age group engagement on social media,” said Natalie N. Griffin, manager of Best-One Tire & Auto Care of Crossville, Tenn.
“When social media first made its appearance in our business, it was to capture the under 30 consumer. I feel that it's no longer that way. I see the age and population of our customers on social media grow each day.“
Facebook and Twitter both are using their ads to try to help businesses cater their posts to different demographics. While this may be helpful, if younger demographics are really leaving the site it may be harder to reach them on this platform. Other tire dealers are not only focusing on their Facebook presence, but on other sites as well.
“For our business we are most looking forward to expanding our presence on Google + and would like to have 1,200 Facebook likes by mid-2015,” said Kris Lowell, office manager at Eastern Tire & Auto Service of Rockland, Maine.
Ms. Lowell said the shop will also implement text notifications for its customers who want them to receive appointment reminders, oil change reminders and vehicle repair status.
What is working
A business may sign up for social media expecting to write about its company and post some ads but find out it is much different. Gary Saks, general manager at Dorchester Tire Service of Boston, said when he first signed on he wanted to build a loyal following that “liked” Dorchester Tire Service on Facebook “in order to generate instant results from last-minute specials.”
For instance, if it was raining, the shop would post a sale on wiper blades. He said he also thought to leverage Twitter in real time. If the shop could see someone venting about an experience, such as a flat tire, the shop could respond with advice and could reach out to come into the shop.
“The reality of my current goals for social media are much different,” Mr. Saks said.
He said he learned that just because a business has an impressive number of followers on Facebook does not always mean they have that many loyal customers, but “rather purchased ‘likes' that many not be in the target demographics of the business.”
Mr. Saks said Dorchester Tire has found success in a “steady stream of unique posts” on both Facebook and Twitter.
“They help generate strong results with the search engines, which is critical to our expanding our customer base. In fact, the two most common responses that we receive from new customers when asked how they heard of us are ‘search engines' and ‘many great reviews online.'”
Ms. Griffin said that customer feedback for Best-One Tire & Auto Center of Crossville has been positive, adding that customers love social media contests.
Ms. Lowell added that Eastern Tire makes its “social media presences appealing to customers and keep them informed in a way that is enjoyable to them.
“We have been a family-owned business since 1947, and our customers are third-generation customers and we have always tried to stay on top of what they want and how we can meet their needs. Our most popular Facebook posts are old pictures from the last 67 years and posts that feature our shop dog, Filson.”
Online reviews continue to be important going into 2015. Mr. Saks said Dorchester Tire seeks reviews from customers on sites, such as Yelp, Google, Customer Lobby or Facebook.
“Many go to Facebook to share their positive experiences because that is the platform to which they are most comfortable,” he added.
Mr. Miculinich said that he sees Facebook and Twitter “trying to leverage their large subscriber base to make money.”
In 2015, he wonders if this will be taken even further where people could transfer money to one another, etc. and will this be taken too far where people will no longer follow brands on these sites. He also asks, how new start ups sites, like Ello — which has said it will never have ads— will affect the social media landscape.
While some social media sites are on the rise, other may be losing steam.
VIP Tires & Service's Social Media Intern Veronica Beaudoin said Foursquare and Pinterest are two social media sites she could see declining in 2015 for businesses.
“The use of Pinterest by brands is a tricky thing, and a lot of consumers don't want to see ad driven content on a site like Pinterest,” she said.
She added that Instagram and Twitter are both on the rise.
“Twitter is continuing to grow, but is really only growing younger rather than older like Facebook did,” said Ms. Beaudoin.
“Early adopters of Twitter were college age and older, unlike Facebook, which began with college age and younger and then gained an older following as time went on. New Twitter users are consistently younger and younger, but these users are joining Twitter before they ever join Facebook.”
Ms. Lowell agreed that Eastern Tire has seen a drop in the use of Foursquare.
“I think the switch to Swarm really confused a lot of people and they don't want to deal with it,” she added.
Sites to test out
For businesses attempting to expand to different sites in the New Year, the site on many marketers' wish lists is Instagram.
With the trend on social media continuing toward visual platforms, sites predominantly with multimedia, such as photos and videos, are expected to grow.
“Facebook use is diminishing among young people, but it's growing among older adults,” said Ms. Beaudoin.
“The idea that Facebook is in its decline stages is a bit overzealous. While Twitter is growing, I think the next place people should look for major brand growth is Instagram.”
She added that VIP Tires & Service is on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare and YouTube, and does not expect to add any new sites in 2015.
“If we could find a way to join Instagram with a sound strategy, we will, but I'm not sure how good of a fit it is VIP's brand,” Ms. Beaudoin said.
“I would however like to see more activity from VIP on YouTube. I think we might have a good place to generate content and provide something for our customers online.”
Ms. Griffin said Best-One Tire & Auto Care of Crossville is on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp, and recently added Instagram to its social media presence.
Eastern Tire is on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Google +, and Ms. Lowell said she is considering implementing a Pinterest pinboard as well as an Instagram account.
Whether targeting older or younger demographics, social media is becoming a way to cater to both just depending on the site. Stay tuned to Tire Business' social media blog in 2015 for more tips and information.
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Tire Business would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor Don Detore at [email protected].