Herb Chambers Ford, Instagram

Go on Instagram, search a particular hashtag involving cars, and you’ll find thousands of photos ranging from Hondas to Lamborghinis. Car photographers, owners, and dealerships have taken to the social media platform to show off their photo taking skills, their pride in the vehicle they own, or to promote cars in showrooms that will sometimes attract Instagram users to ask for the price and availability of that specific model. Is Instagram ready to be the platform that can move cars off dealerships’ lots and be worth the time and effort for the dealerships to start posting content on a regular basis? Absolutely.

In other industries, such as clothing and small accessories, businesses are seeing results by posting native content, whether that be the product being displayed in a real life setting, or sharing pictures of models wearing the brand’s clothing. The same can certainly be applied to the automotive world, but dealerships have to be willing to give a 100% effort and post frequently, posting three to four pictures a day while also engaging with the local community. Right now, Facebook and Twitter have not been kind to car dealerships, frankly because dealerships hard sell, share boring non-native content, and fail to promote specials that could draw customers into the showroom.

Because Instagram is picture driven, users are more compelled to “like” and comment on photos than they are on Facebook. Because captions aren’t as important as the hashtags, hard selling is near impossible, and you have to rely on using the right hashtags to draw traffic to your account. You content, it’s quality, and your engagement with the local community is how you’ll gain notoriety. What I’m noticing is that there’s a lot of younger teens who are around 16 years old that post photos of cars. By following them and liking their Instagram pictures, you’re connecting with potential customers. Those kids will be in the market for a first car, and if you impress them, they’ll tell their parents, and now you’ve got a family walking through your showroom’s doors. Even better, the teenager will know who you are, making the customer very comfortable, which will go a long way in terms of word of mouth and online reviews.

Not only are you promoting for the here and now, but by becoming a contributing member in the local car scene, you’ll eventually see results in the future. What cannot be stressed enough is the use of native content. I’ve seen and follow dealerships who are using manufacturers’ photos and as a result, are getting very little engagement. To succeed on Instagram, you need to understand the culture. While you are a business and must stay professional, you can’t be restrictive in terms of content.

I’m not quite sure of the reasoning behind not using native content by dealerships. I believe that they want to be a social media brochure, however interested customers can download them off the manufacturers’ websites. To grow a following that will engage with the content you share, and potentially ask questions about pricing, you have to start being active throughout the entire day. Posting once a day, one every three days, or once a week is not enough. If you want to be recognized on Instagram, you’ll have to be willing to be active 8-12 hours a day. Traffic on Instagram varies depending on time and the region. In Boston, 7 am, noon, 3-4 pm, 7 pm, and 10 pm are times in which I’m seeing the most volume in “likes” and comments. You have to find a posting schedule that works for you, and execute on that strategy.

Instagram isn’t like Facebook. Hashtags, posting strategy, and engaging with others is the key to success on this platform. By not putting forth the effort, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to see results and sales from this picture oriented social media platform.

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