Car Dealerships: Find A Social Media Manager To Run Your Accounts

Having spent a lot of time visiting car dealerships’ Facebook pages, both local and across the country, it’s apparent which dealerships understand the importance of having a social media manager behind the desk and overseeing accounts. I’d say somewhere between 5-10% of dealerships have a sound social media marketing strategy where they’re posting native content on their Facebook and Instagram pages, instead of online ads and photos the car brands supplies. These dealerships are seeing a strong interest in their cars from followers, and are on occasion, asking questions about prices and other details about the cars the dealerships are displaying. For the 90-95% of dealerships who clearly have a person who has no social media marketing experience running the social media accounts, there’s a significant decrease in likes and engagement.

I want to make it clear that it’s not the dealership’s, or the person who is running the social media pages fault. However, by placing people who don’t have any social media experience outside of running their own personal accounts behind the desk, you’re putting them in a position where they can’t thrive and are completely out of their element, costing you followers and strong engagement. Sometimes, it’s almost as if dealerships’ social media pages become that Facebook friend you forgot you had, and after about 8 months, you see them on your friends list and think, “Oh yeah, I remember him!” Social media pages should never be forgotten; they must contain content worth reading and seeing, and always make customers come back for more.

Most of the dealerships that I found across the country have upwards to 10,000 – 20,000 likes on Facebook. This could be due to social media dark posts; which are ads that get sent to specifically targeted audiences, but don’t show up on your Facebook page. These ads will be seen on the side bar and in the news feeds of this targeted audience, and these ads don’t have to contain hard selling copy, a cool picture of your best car in the showroom could be enough to attract followers and likes. Through this, you have the makings of a virtual word of mouth. The people who like your page are real, not fake, and they’ll share any photo or content that’s relevant to them, making your native content go viral. This is already happening on Instagram, just on a smaller scale and without the use of advertising and spent money.

I always felt that the dealerships that are seeing great results from their social media presence, not only hired someone who understands the ins and outs of social media marketing, but also has to some degree, a passion for cars. It’s easy to identify a salesman running a page, due to the high frequency of hard selling content, which is why people are repelled from going to your Facebook page. As with any form of content, whether that be sharing local news events, pictures of your customers getting their new car, or the employees you have, it can get old. There needs to be a well-balanced mix, along with native content that contains pictures of your cars in the showrooms, or out on the lot.

I can’t stress it enough; you have an inventory, use it. While these cars are in someway like holiday decorations, show them off. No one knows you have these cars at your dealership, unless they do research from third party resources. Be that primary resource, and make sure those customers are coming to you, and not the dealership selling the same car brand 15-20 miles away.

Car Dealerships: You Should Be Selling An Experience, Not Just Cars

Even in the year of 2015, car buyers have a very negative perception of car dealerships. Go on Twitter, search the term “car dealerships” and you get many disgruntled consumers who aren’t happy about going to a dealership or spending any amount of time at one, even when they’re buying a new car. There are some tweeters who are complaining about the lack of free coffee or refreshments. At a few dealerships I’ve stopped at, I had the option of getting a bagel, coffee, and bottled water. Dealerships out there are missing out on a great opportunity to change the perceptions of car shoppers, and social media is the best way to create a positive vibe.

Mercedes Benz of Burlington, Massachusetts is about to reshape how consumers buy cars. While there are probably dozens of others in this state or across the country catering to and treating consumers like they really matter, many still haven’t caught on or marketed their upscale customer service specials. Mercedes Benz of Burlington feeds their customers with gourmet food and coffee, offers manicures, and car washes while they wait. Not only are the cars luxury and arguably best in class, but by treating their customers special, the word of mouth and the amount of referrals from happy car buyers will pay dividends in the short and long term.

If your dealership offers comforts that many potential car buyers don’t expect, you have to make that aware to them. You’re no longer just selling a car, you’re selling an experience. Jordan’s Furniture in Wakefield and Patriot Place in Foxboro were the beginning of a new trend, and they were far ahead of the curve. Bob Kraft doesn’t just own the Patriots, he owns an empire that is attracting fans, even during the offseason. Jordan’s Furniture draws customers despite the fact that some have no intention of buying furniture on that particular day. Mercedes Benz of Burlington, because of their special services and the treatment of their customers, will attract customers who probably were loyal BMW and Audi owners. This is the direction in which the industry is heading in.

You might ask, “How do we make potential car buyers aware of our high quality customer service?” The answer is simple. Use social media to your advantage. That’s where all your customers are, and by being friendly and acting human, you will change the perception car buyers have of car dealerships. That’s the biggest problem in the auto industry, lack of trust. You have to build that trust by posting quality and valuable content that makes customers engage on your social media pages. Show the friendly and comfortable environment your dealership offers. Post photos of your inventory and showroom. Give people visual appetizers so they’re comfortable when they walk into your doors.

Mercedes Benz of Burlington has got the right idea, and they’re executing to perfection when it comes to social media. They’re using all the major platforms and posting native content showing their best cars. You have to do the same or the dealership down the street who’s got a strong social media presence will steal your business. It’s 2015, it’s time to start marketing like it.

Car Dealerships: Use Social Media To Your Advantage

The name of the game is to sell cars, and what better way to do that than having an effective social media marketing strategy? Every other industry has hopped on board, and now it’s time for the auto industry to do the same. But what is really stopping dealerships across the country from branding and marketing their businesses to appeal to customers within their region? Unlike with TV ads, Facebook ads can target specific potential car buyers that live within walking and short driving distance of the dealerships that are advertising. So what’s the hold up?

First off, I’m just going to be straightforward. The social media accounts most dealerships operate are downright boring. You’re a business, not a virtual newspaper selling coupons every 3-6 months. Stop hard selling as if this is the 1950’s. One reason there is very little engagement with most dealerships’ social media pages is due to lack of trust. But more importantly, the content these accounts post aren’t worth reading or responding to. Instead of posting already used content by other dealerships that are selling the same brand, post unique content that shows off your showroom, best cars in your inventory, and interesting news or services that you provide.

Create a blog and share your content on your social media accounts. Tell possible car buyers why they should buy from you, why they should have their car serviced at your dealership, and explain the parts you use in the maintenance department to build trust and persuade car owners to come to you. Only posting when you have a sale or service special falls on deaf ears because you haven’t created good enough content that keeps people coming to your Facebook or Twitter page. They will inevitably glance or skip right over your post because 90% of your content is hard selling.

Post photos on Instagram. Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury consistently posts pictures of BMW’s that are in their showroom. What 20, 30, or 40 year old doesn’t like a BMW M3, i8, or 435i Gran Coupe? You’re missing out by not posting on Instagram. The companies who are utilizing all social media platforms are increasing sales, but it’s their patience and determination that’s keeping them relevant because they’re posting good content that people want to see.

By being on social media, you’re in essence becoming an influencer. In studies, 27% of consumers are influenced by the cars they see on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because the pictures contain the car on the road, in the city, or in the woods, consumers can visualize themselves driving that car, or taking that same photo on their vacation. You’re giving social media users eye candy that they just might indulge in.

Who Said Millennials Aren’t Buying Cars?

Remember the reports that Millennials weren’t buying cars, or were less interested in vehicles than previous generations? Well, the sales figures don’t backup those statements, and now we can throw a whole new generation under the bus for not buying automobiles. According to Bloomberg, Millennials (Generation Y) made up 27% of new car sales last year, passing Generation X for 2nd place and being right behind the Baby Boomers. I guess we can now blame Generation X, and assume that they love their iPhones and iPads more than driving, and would rather use Uber to get around than driving their own car.

The answer is simple as to why Millennials are finally buying new cars. After being weighted down with debt and facing an economic crisis, this generation was dealing with much more adversity in buying cars than in previous generations. Also, rising car prices haven’t helped either, leaving the used car lot as the best option if Millennials wanted to own a car. With this generation finally entering the work force and slowly paying off their debt, buying automobiles is finally within their reach.

According to the article Bloomberg posted, Millennials are also beginning to move out to the suburbs, which once again proves another theory wrong. It’s been reported for a while that this generation is moving to the city and embracing the idea of not owning cars, and relying on public transportation to get around. Now it appears that they’re in fact moving to areas where subways and buses aren’t as common, making it difficult to travel without a vehicle. Clearly, Millennials aren’t as in love with the idea of using Uber as reports suggested, or preferring to find other ways of transportation besides driving themselves.

It shouldn’t be understated that the Millennial generation spans from the years of 1980-2004. This means that the oldest member of this generation is 35 and the youngest is 11-16. Car sales by demographics can be distorted. Not only are we talking about a generation that is still in school, but some of them don’t even have a license. How can they buy a car when they’re still talking about what shows are on Disney or Nickelodeon? Let’s also not forget those 35 year olds. Because they’ve been in the work force the longest out of this generation, it’s possible that they’re the ones who make up the majority of the 27%.

At the end of the day, Millennials still love cars, and car enthusiasts can breath a sigh of relief. Our cars are going nowhere, and with the latest sales figures, this generation is eager to buy new vehicles and get behind the wheel. Now, maybe all the theorists out there can get on Generation X’s case for not buying new cars. Maybe they’re the real car haters and people who prefer public transportation.

Cadillac Will Soon Bow Out Of The Livery Market

A decision by Cadillac that has been long overdue will finally come to fruition as the American luxury car manufacturer will no longer be in the livery market. This comes after reports of the XTS’s lifecycle coming to an end, as this car was to attract the traditional Cadillac buyer. With sales still down, even after some exciting changes and announcements of new models, Cadillac needs to and is in the process of changing the perception the brand has had for many years, which is cars that are geared towards the older, affluent American consumer. By getting out of the livery market, this is one step in the right direction.

Seeing Cadillac’s in funeral processions gives the brand a bad image, especially in the eyes of the younger generations. How can the American automaker compete with their German rivals when 20 and 30 year olds are more interested and attracted to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz? This has been the problem for Cadillac for many years, and by also being a part of GM and having their name thrown into the fire with all the recalls surely hasn’t helped. Since it doesn’t appear Cadillac is leaving GM anytime soon, now is the right time to take on the problems that they can control, and that’s to change the brand’s image entirely. By exiting the livery market and going full throttle into luxury and performance, the American luxury brand can once again compete against other luxury juggernauts.

The new Cadillac ATS-V got a warm reception when it was unveiled, so they need to take advantage and ride the momentum of positive vibes. It’s going to take a while for the changes to take full effect as consumers are not often quick to change perceptions towards brands, but if Cadillac can continue making bold moves and offering quality, luxury, and performance the car buyer wants, we could see a revival in sales.

The one real question at the end of the day however, is will consumers have a positive reaction to Cadillac’s desire to sell RWD cars? That’s still a question that’s up for debate as almost every car manufacturer has either focused on front-wheel drive, 4WD, or AWD drivetrains. Surely Cadillac will still offer 4WD/AWD, but they’re creating a small hurdle for themselves if they do intend on moving forward with plans to manufacture RWD cars, since the average consumer has been fully exposed to AWD capabilities by most auto brands.

What is Scion’s Identity? Do They Even Have One?

This week at the New York International Auto Show, Scion unveiled their all new iA sedan and iM hatchback that will be going on sale at the end of 2015. Scion, which is owned by Toyota, really has only one car that they can truly call they own, the tC, while the rest of their lineup is either rebadged Toyota’s that are sold in Europe and Asia, or they have cars that aren’t even built by their parent company. The FR-S was a collaboration by Toyota and Subaru, and can be bought as a Subaru, the BRZ.

What is Scion? Were they originally Toyota’s cheap brand that sold to younger consumers, or are they now a combination of cheaper vehicles and a lab rat for other car companies to see what they could come with without putting their badge on the car? The iA is essentially the new Mazda 2 sedan, and was also a collaboration with Toyota by Mazda. The iM is a rebadged Toyota Auris and will be what takes the place of the Toyota Matrix, and will give Scion the opportunity to try increasing sales in the hatchback market. Both cars will be starting anywhere between $16,000 – $20,000 when they hit the market, and with a very lackluster group of vehicles that are currently within that price range, the iA and iM could see some strong sales.

The biggest issue facing Scion is that their sales figures aren’t as strong as they were back in 2005. Scion was the new kid on the block offering cheaper cars for younger drivers, but today, the tC and FR-S are the only Scions that younger consumers want to get behind the wheel of, and when it comes to the FR-S, they can choose to visit a Subaru dealer instead.

Out of the two, the iM has a better chance of succeeding than the iA. While great fuel economy and cheaper starting price for the iA might go a long way in helping consumers decide whether to buy the car or not, the iM being a hatchback, might be more appealing to younger consumers.

Toyota has a lineup consisting of cars that compete with Honda, Ford, and Chevrolet, while their luxury division, Lexus, is taking on BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, and Infiniti. It would be great if Scion became both cheap for younger consumers, while being the performance division for Toyota. The tC and FR-S are good starts, but if Toyota could offer a Celica (which in essence is the tC) MR-2 or some original sports car badged as a Scion, the perception of the brand would change completely overnight. Right now it seems like Scion is everyone’s ginny pig, and that’s what is confusing consumers. The Toyota owned company is now 13 years old, it’s time to start maturing and offering original cars that aren’t rebadged by other Japanese brands or Toyota itself.

Clarkson Fired: BBC Loses, Not Top Gear

It’s official, Jeremy Clarkson has been fired from BBC after an altercation with a producer. James May and Richard Hammond have already made it clear that they won’t continue making episodes without Clarkson so at the moment, the future of Top Gear looks grim. But BBC loses more than Jeremy Clarkson as Top Gear rakes in 50 million British pounds, the equivalent of $74 mil in our currency. There’s no way that the BBC will make that off their nature shows, Orphan Black, and the Three Musketeers, so it’s a bad business decision for them.

We can sit here and argue for hours about whether this was the right move, but by firing Jeremy Clarkson, BBC has essentially given him, May, and Hammond all the power to creating their own show or joining another network under a different name. There’s already been rumors circulating on the Internet that Sky News and ITV have interest in adding the trio to their TV lineup. Why not? $74 mil in extra revenue in a year is certainly worth it. There’s also rumors that Top Gear will be coming to America, which in terms of business and money, is a great move.

If there is one thing American companies and business owners are good at it’s making money. With Top Gear being on American networks, there would be more distribution, bigger profits, more episodes per year, and a bigger viewing audience. Netflix has also been rumored to be working on a deal with Jeremy Clarkson. So a company that’s dominated the movie rental industry, killing off Blockbuster, would be moving into a new market that will definitely bring revenue. This isn’t the end of Top Gear, this is just the beginning.

People seem skeptical due to the possibility of a non-compete in Jeremy Clarkson’s contract, but since he’s been fired, that contact could be voided, and May and Hammond are sure to follow suit. We’re either going to see this trio on another British TV network, or Top Gear is coming to America. There is no doubt that there are TV executives in the United States foaming at the mouths due to the potential of $74 mil in extra revenue.

Just as car companies are entering new markets and following the money trail, TV networks are going to do the same by trying to acquire these three for another show. The United States has always had businesses that capitalized off opportunities other companies gave them, and the BBC will be, without a doubt, the next corporation making a huge mistake.

This is bad business for the BBC. Think of how many other outspoken and controversial figureheads are still on TV. They bring in revenue and a strong viewing audience. Top Gear isn’t dead, and in fact, we may get a better show without the BBC overseeing operations and hindering these three from making the best TV show on the planet.

It’s your loss BBC. Not Top Gear’s, the fan’s, or Jeremy Clarkson’s. Just remember when viewership rankings tank, and lower yearly revenue starts giving you headaches, that you made the biggest mistake ever.

You Have $15,000, Do You Buy Or Lease A Car?

If you have $15,000 in cash, do you buy or lease a car? Actually, I’m going to make it more interesting. If you have $10,000 in cash would you buy or lease a car?

Having scanned through forums and Reddit, there are many young, and even older consumers, who ask the same question, usually with the same amount of money in hand asking for car buying advice. Now, if your commute to work and weekend trips make your annual mileage higher than 12,000 a year, then buying is the better option. But what about those who are driving around 8,000 – 10,000 miles a year. Would you still be so hasty to buy instead of lease?

Most people feel that leasing costs you more in the long run. But does it really? True, your car payments could be higher per month, but because it’s a new car, you won’t have to factor in major maintenance costs. At $10,000 – $15,000, you’re not going to end up with what you want. Certified pre-owned, you’re looking at the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, or Toyota Corolla to name a few. Used can be a case of trick or treat. There’s always diamonds in the rough, but more often than not, you’ll end up with someone else’s problem. Mechanical failure is likely, factoring into the overall cost of the car, while it’s aging, and every year the resale value is slowly tanking. You either wind up with a money pit, or a decent car that will last you a few years before maintenance issues could arise.

Now let’s look to leasing. You have $10,000 – $15,000 in hand and you’re visiting local dealership websites comparing lease offers and deciding which one works best for you. You stumble upon a great deal. Your local Ford dealership down the street has a lease offer for a new Ford Escape SE; $4,173 due at signing, $159 a month for 24 months. If my math is correct, for those 2 years it will cost you a grand total of $7,989, not including oil changes and annual maintenance. You’re saving $2,000 in the long run, which will be two grand more saved up for your next lease. If you buy a $10,000 car, you’re looking at a world of unknowns.

So the choice. A new Ford Escape SE or an 8 year old car with 50,000+ miles on it. $8,000 overall in 24 months, or $10,000, plus maintenance that will inevitably happen sometime during your ownership of the car.

Another example; this time you have $15,000. Now I’m sure you can find some sweetheart deal for a 6+ year old Infiniti G35 or G37 or an older BMW 3 Series, but again let’s factor in unforeseen maintenance. But you decide, “I’ll lease instead because I want to drive a new car”. Here are the potential options you have. Let me just say this is all predicated on what the dealerships in your area are offering. Here’s a few from my neck of the woods.

Audi A3: $2,694 downpayment, $299 a month for 36 months = $13,458

BMW X1: $4,000 downpayment, $239 a month for 36 months = $12,604

BMW 320i X-Drive: 4,000 downpayment, $239 a month for 36 months = $12,604 (Same offer as the X1)

Infiniti Q40: $1,499 downpayment, $229 a month for 39 months = $10,430

Lexus IS 250: $1,599 downpayment, 349 a month for 36 months = $14,163

These are just some of the deals that are out there. They all cost under $15,000 within the three year window you have the car. Most come with leather seats, heated seats, bluetooth, navigation, and electric sunroof. So think about it for a minute. You can have a luxury car for the same price, or less than if you bought a certified pre-owned Honda Civic. There are even better offers out there if you don’t want to spend $15,000.

After seeing this, would you still buy or would you lease?

#SaveTheManuals: A Valiant Effort All For Not

The age of the manual transmission is coming to a close. With automatics dominating the auto market, auto-shift and paddle shifters replacing the traditional manual, hard core car enthusiasts will have to either buy an older car or hope an auto manufacturer specifically targets to a dwindling market. As of right now, manuals make up about 6-10% market share, leaving the other 90-94% to being automatics or non traditional manuals that allow the driver to switch from manual to automatic when he/she so chooses. Last month, Acura announced that the only car in their lineup that will have a manual transition will be the ILX, which hasn’t generated great sales for the Honda-owned car brand.

When Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren have paddle shifters on their models, you know we’re entering into a new era of cars. People have given many reasons as to why this phenomenon is happening. Some say it’s because the infotainment systems in cars require too much attention from the driver, so manually shifting become a second thought. Others say it’s because automatics have become just as fuel efficient as manuals, and due to the computer systems in cars now, the car can shift just as good, if not better than a human. But I personally believe that automatics are more convenient. Isn’t that where our culture is heading? Convenience?

A 16 year old who is learning how to drive, or just got his/her license can just get behind the wheel, put the key in the ignition, and drive off to their destination. There is no energy required, no secondary action needed while driving, and with the cars that are being produced today, a person driving an automatic can fully enjoy their vehicle just the same as owners of manuals.

Let’s also remember that auto manufacturers are companies. They’re following the money, and that trail does not lead to a large market for manuals. Six to ten percent isn’t a huge chunk of the market. In the last 35 years, we’ve seen a 25% drop in demand for the traditional manual, which means less money is going to that market. For these companies to survive they need to follow the money. This is the same reason that every car brand is entering the crossover market. Porsche manufacturing two SUV’s and a four door, and Ford bringing the Focus RS to America to compete with the likes of the Subaru STI and the Volkswagen GTI, is another example of car brands getting into a market that is making money.

We’re seeing a massive change and shift in the automotive world. Because of these changes, transmissions, infotainment systems, and other components have been updated to appeal to a broader market. Unless consumers start buying manuals, the days of the traditional stick shift will be over. It’s been a valiant effort, but it might be all for not.

Why Self-Driving Cars Will Never Catch On In The US

The autonomous car has been at the center of many discussions over the past year or so when it comes to technology and the future of the automotive world. While we continue to look at self-driving cars from the driver’s and owner’s perspective, we’re missing out on a more crucial aspect of the industry itself, the economy and it’s profits that come along with vehicles. There’s the possibility that millions if not billions of dollars are at stake with the arrival of autonomous cars, and this could have a devastating effect on the entire industry, from car companies to the after market part suppliers.

When we discuss self-driving cars, we’re not talking about hybrids or electric cars that were once laughed at by the general public. Yes, hybrids and cars like Tesla have changed, and continue to change the industry, but they’re not taking money away from key components in the auto market. Tesla owners still get their cars washed, car enthusiasts who may own hybrids like the BMW i8 may look into after market parts such as rims and suspension, but what would autonomous car owner’s do?

The way I see it, self-driving cars are like owning a robotic dog. Would you still go to Petco to buy chew toys for your “dog” if it were mechanical? The love you have for an animal cannot be compared to whatever connection you could try formulating with a robot full of wires. The same goes for a car. If the car does all the work, sets the speed limit, and does something on command, will you still have that same connection with that car as the one that’s currently sitting in your driveway? The answer is most certainly no.

You’ll probably be less likely to take your car to your trusted mechanic to tune the engine, lower the suspension, install new rims and exhaust, and add on any other customized parts that didn’t come with car when it left the factory. You’re also not going to take the time to wash your car, which means no more going to Auto Zone to buy wax, polish, or scratch removers because the connection that you have with the car you drive won’t be there when the car cares and drives for itself. This will all lead to lost money for businesses and corporations, and if there is one piece of knowledge I’ve learned in life, it’s that if the corporations stop receiving money from consumers, something needs to change ASAP.

Your car is a part of your life, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. The thoughts that run through your head while you pull up to your girlfriend’s house on your first date, the first time you ever got behind the wheel, or driving home full of excitement because you go that job you wanted are all moments that you’ll remember, and will most definitely remember the car you were driving at that time. Those are the moments that you’ll never forget that also make driving special. The car is not a living breathing thing, but it’s always there to get you from one place to another, and by being behind the wheel of that car everyday, you do become attached to it to a certain degree.

The automotive world, just as the pet industry, can sell off emotion. Your dad, who always talks about his muscle car, the memories, and the regret of getting rid of it, is why he either buys a new car to replace it, or finds the vin number, tracks it down, and buys that car back. That’s why cars are special, it’s in our DNA. To strip that away is going to have dire consequences on the auto market because consumers won’t care anymore, that love for your sports car won’t be there and the enjoyment of driving will be lost.

For the people who say, “I’d rather have my car drive for me so I can read Facebook statuses or text my friends”, shouldn’t be driving to begin with. If you would rather be reading why Suzy broke up with Matt, send a trivial text to some friend, or find out who won American Idol, you probably don’t deserve the car you’re driving right now.

There’s money at stake with this technology, money that car companies and even corporations haven’t taken into consideration yet. If consumer’s stop taking care of or modifying their cars because they’re autonomous, many businesses will cease to exist and the auto industry as we know it could self-implode. We’ll have to see how this all plays out in the next 10 years, but there is a lot at stake and risks that many people seem to be overlooking.