Social media: contributing or confusing?

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Keeping up with the rapid-fire changes and functions of social media these days seems like a full-time job. And, it’s likely with all the daily functions and decisions involved in running today’s marine dealerships, learning more about social media takes a back seat.

Still, social media has become an important marketing tool as reports confirm up to 33 percent of time people now spend online daily is on social media. In some ways, it’s a runaway train but its reach and power cannot be denied.

So, what’s a dealer to do to make such a tool an effective part of a marketing program? Answer: unless you’re a dealer lucky enough to have a staff member genuinely versed at creating and sustaining a social media program, spend some marketing budget on professional help.

The beauty of effective social media usage is its reach. Something posted, for example, on a Facebook page could be passed on with an ultimate big reach. That said, even with professional help, you should have some basic understandings about good practices. Here, then, are some things you might consider moving forward:

First, always be customer focused. Understanding how customers use your products — where they go, what they do, what they’re interested in — should lead you to post content that will resonate. To do otherwise will soon have you losing “friends” faster than the fall of a confederate statue.

Encourage your employees to be social advocates of the dealership. It’s probable they’re already on one or more social channels, with lots of family and friends. Ask them to share good dealership content on their personal channels.

Don’t overdo it. Is there such a thing as “oversharing?” Yes. Posting too often can be a real turn-off. Moreover, too much posting probably means you’re stretching to find topics and content. Boring. Rather, establish a reasonable posting schedule that recipients can look forward to, and always solicit their feedback.

Use your social media account(s) to help customers become better users of your boats. Think about it — if you’ve been a dealer for a while, you have accumulated an abundance of knowledge about this sport. Your goal should be to help them become more knowledgeable, which leads to more use and enjoyment of their boat, which can lead to another purchase or their friends becoming prospects. That’s the way it works.

Selecting a social medium and posting on a whim can be risky (ask President Trump). So, before you opt to post or tweet or pin or snap, make decisions about the channel(s) you will use. Each is somewhat unique in its requirements and operation. For example, a Facebook post isn’t limited in the number of characters like Twitter, and it can include larger image sizes than an Instagram post. And, images of boating can be important content in your program. If you want the recipients to take some action, make sure your posts are mobile friendly. That’s because www.marketingland.com reports that these days nearly 80 percent of the time spent on social media is on a mobile devices. The less work people have to do on their phones the better the responses — it’s that simple.

Nights and weekends are an ideal time to post. We may be working 9 to 5 Monday to Friday but we check our social media account(s) and respond to offers more on weekends. Indeed, some experts say posting other than during regular working hours can help content stand out when competitors aren’t posting.

Consider posting on a timetable that matches up with another key marketing effort. For example, a boat show in which you’ll be exhibiting; an open house event; an after-hours special sale at the store; a community happening or charitable affair you are supporting.

Set goals for your social media program that you can measure. Remember the old saying – If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit the target every time.” So, which of these goals would you set for your social media outreach? 1) Increase awareness of your dealership. 2) Generate sales leads. 3) Increase service operations. 4) Stimulate upselling chances. 5) Convert more leads to actual sales. 6) Relate to and delight existing customers.

Finally, it’s no secret that creating good, steady content is the Achilles heel for busy dealers. So here’s an easy, reliable way to get that done that can increase your social media success and grow your boat sales.

It’s a social media content resource developed by Discover Boating that’s available free to all dealers. It provides relevant boating lifestyle content for use on dealers’ Facebook business pages. It’s called Get Social with Discover Boating. The program is professionally managed by LotVantage, a digital marketing software company, overseeing the curation and distribution of the Facebook content from Discover Boating channels. Find out everything by going to: http://info.lotvantage.com/discoverboating.

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