CHICAGOAn auto repair shop's Facebook page could be a potential customer's first impression of its business, according to Danny Sanchez, CEO of Autoshop Solutions Inc.
A Facebook page is an extension of the business, offering an easy way for a company to share updates with customers and potential customers, Mr. Sanchez told attendees at the recent Automechanika Chicago show.
Facebook allows a business to have one-on-one conversations with its fans/customers; reach large groups frequently with messages tailored to their needs and interests; and gather analytics on the page that provides a better understanding of the dealership's customers and effectiveness of its marketing activities.
Mr. Sanchez encouraged businesses to include their Facebook addresses on business cards and websites as well as in marketing materials.
He also encouraged tire dealers and auto service shop operators to get involved in community activities and post event photos on their Facebook pagesall efforts that potentially can drive business into the service bays.
If dealers are sponsoring a youth sports team, for example, they should attend a least a few gamesand take photos of the players. Mr. Sanchez said such photo postings will draw in a lot of proud parents to the dealership's Facebook page and thus drive up traffic through sharing and links.
However, Facebook posts are hit or miss. Some posts will resonate with some people more than others, he said, but dealers should consistently post, at least a couple of times a week, on their Facebook pages.
He half-jokingly suggested dealers periodically post photos of puppies and kittenswhich historically generate a lot of likes, making such furry subjects social media gold.
But for other more mundane posts, he said you can't get your feelings hurt because nobody responds.... Don't get your feelings hurt and don't get into despair.... That's just the way it works.
You're not going to hit a home run on every post.... It doesn't mean people aren't listening to you.
Unlike a national brand's page, a local dealer can be pleased with getting three people to interact with the business on a posted topic.
He suggested dealers should offer Facebook tips freely on how people can take care of their cars.
It's not about giving them DIY information. It's that you're helping them understand better how to take care of their vehicles. And our job is absolutely all about prevention and education. That's the service advisor's main job and everything else is secondary. So you need to do the same thing in your social media environment.
Mr. Sanchez also advocated boosting a post to other people's pages and timelines to build up the opportunities for interaction.
Boosting is unbelievably inexpensive. It does not cost much to boost, he said, noting that a dealership can opt to only boost a post locally to a target audience.
A typical person on Facebook has 125 friends, and of those, 75-85 percent are local, he said.
So for every person you (reach) locally, almost 100 or 125 are all local people. The numbers are really, really good that you are going to hit a lot of those.
Other tips Mr. Sanchez offered for posting on a Facebook page included:
c Be authentic and share what you are genuinely excited about;
c Be responsiveif people comment on a post, show that your business is listening and that you care. If you need more time to answer a question, let them know you're looking into it;
c Be consistentthe more you regularly post, the more opportunities you have for connecting with people and building trust. Setting a schedule for your posts can help maximize your time;
c Replicate your successful posts that get more engagement. Experiment with different kinds of posts to see if your audience prefers photos or useful links;
c When you notice a post is getting a lot of engagement, promote it to reach even more people. When people like, comment or share your posts, their friends will likely see those posts in their own news feeds;
c Post useful car tips, community informationand especially anything related to driving or vehicles; and
c Don't post your opinions on politics or rant about difficult customers.
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