Digital and Social Media for Car Dealers Part 3: Creating Content

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This article is the third in a series on the use of digital and social media for automotive retail managers in an increasingly dynamic world.

Digital and Social Media

According to Netcraft there are 1.25 billion registered websites globally of which around 350 million are active. Twitter say that there are over 500 million tweets sent every day and Facebook report that over 500,000 comments are posted every minute across their 72 MN pages. So, digital and social media are saturated spaces where it’s difficult to get your message noticed. If you want to stand out as a car dealer you need to understand content strategy and content. Explaining this is the purpose of this post.

Every car dealer is trying to build a loyal base of repeat visitors who interact with them. Content is what you give to your followers for free in exchange for their loyalty and interaction. A Content Strategy is the plan you prepare to create and deliver the material to your target audience.

While the end objective is to create a loyal customer, the purpose of most content is rarely direct selling. Mostly it’s relationship building which, in time, may lead to a sale. Effective content is material that is viewed or read more as time goes by. Poor content is stuff that is viewed or read once, for a few seconds, then passed over and rarely looked at again.

So, how do you create good content? This post will tell you how but has one caveat. The fact that you create good content will not help much. It is the first step and you need to be competent at it. But, your content has to be promoted. For most car dealers that means turning your content into paid advertising. I’ll cover that in more detail in the next post but, for now, the approach that’s needed, whatever the size of the business, has three steps: Step 1. Create engaging, customer focused, problem-solving content on your owned media; Step 2. Place that content strategically through well-targeted paid media; Step 3. Earn your audience’s trust and support so that you develop a strong network of brand advocates.

The Basics of Content

Driving traffiv to your postsThere are five reasons why you create content: 1. Get you, your brand and your dealership noticed – if they know you are there they might look at your site; 2. Get people to trust you – if they trust you, they might buy from you; 3. Build traffic to increase your rankings – your aim is to rank on page one. If you rank lower than that you will rarely be seen; 4. Drive traffic to your own website –  your content must interest people by solving their problems, not yours; 5. Generate marketing-qualified leads – effective content gets users to freely give you their contact details. No contact details = no lead.

There are three types of content. 1. Although much of your content will be created and published by you on your own site or social media pages, that won’t be the only source. 2. A lot of your content will be reactions to other people’s content – your comments on other people’s content. 3. And some will be efforts to get links – your content posted on other people’s or business’s sites.

How to create good content

          1. Understand your audienceEstablish Your Audience It’s not rocket science. The better you know your audience, the better you can engage with them. In fact, how can you create engaging content if you don’t know your audience? So, what’s the minimum you need to know?
            • Who are they– Get your audience demographics from google analytics. These will tell you their gender, ages, locations, interests and so on, but you will need to know more. You need to know the words that your audience uses, not the words that you use. For example, if you post about Newton Meters when the audience only uses words like tyre grip or acceleration, they are not going to view or read it. It simply won’t make sense to them. Your content must use the language that your buyers and prospects use to search for information
            • Where are they– another issue is to know where your audience want to have their interaction – what platforms they frequent and when. Almost inevitably, preferred platforms are associated with specific audience demographics – younger prospects use different platforms than older ones, in the main.
            • What they are talking about and how do they say it– Your content must match their interests and idioms. The tone must be matched to theirs. Fortunately, there are free ‘listening’ apps which can tell you which conversations are already taking place around topics you are interested in. Google Alerts is just one example.
          2. Create Buyer Persona’s: Digital & Social Media Buyer Persona's Knowing your audience is more than facts and numbers. It’s insight. Buyer Persona’s are a way of expressing that insight. A “buyer persona” is a description of a type of customer that your business has and wants. Think of it this way: you cannot know everyone individually, but you can create an ‘archetype’ for each different key customer segment that describes their representative demographics, goals, purchase journey, pain points and key issues. Traditionally you already have the ‘ typical Fleet Buyer’, the ‘typical Corporate Buyer’, the ‘Loyal Customer’ and so on. All the buyer persona does is to fill out that description and adds some new ones for customers that you want but don’t yet have. For each one the persona is a description of a ‘typical’ person in your target group: age, gender, education, occupation, interests, life-style, life goals and so on. It provides you with an image of the person you are communicating with now or trying to engage with in the future. Once you have Buyer Persona’s you can create content with your specific target buyer or user in mind.
          3. Map Content to Buyer's NeedsMap Your Content to the Purchase Funnel: Buyers progress through three main stages in their search and purchase process: 1. Awareness, 2. Consideration and 3. Decision-Making. You need content for each step. Keep in mind the buyer’s core needs. They are on the platform for a purpose. The four main purposes are: 1. to learn something, 2. to solve a problem, 3. to find or buy something and one more, 4. entertainment. Your

            Thanks to Marketing charts.com. Click to expand.

            content should always solve one of these problems or deliver these benefits. Here’s an example. The buyer is at the awareness stage. The buyer is creating a shortlist of possible brands or products that might suit their needs. Nothing is ruled in or out yet. You might post about the key criteria in making a new car shortlist. That would help them to check that they have included all the relevant criteria, solving a problem for them. Or, you might create a decision rules graphic which helps them to narrow the options for themselves, such as “When is an SUV a better choice than a Station Wagon for you?”. They learn something. The key point is to think like a potential buyer at a specific stage in the purchase funnel and help them to make progress.

          4. Create The Content: Half a decade ago, content for car dealers was simple. Post dealer events, biographies of the team, service tips and stuff you did for the community. You’ll need to do more than that today. To begin with, there are three distinct content preferences for fleet and business and retail prospects . 1. Focus more on Data for B2B and Emotion for B2C. 2. Solve a problem for B2C and be an expert for B2B. 3. Tell a human story for B2C and tell a profit story for B2B.
Content for Lead Conversion

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According to recent research from the digital research experts Ascend2, seven types of content generate leads with the highest conversion content for B2B – see the chart. Research by the CMO Council and NetLine echo these findings. It’s also no surprise, when you look at the type of B2B content that works – research, white papers, infographics and so on –  content length, as well as content type, is also correlated to SEO.  Well researched, longer posts and material ranks higher – it gets viewed more often, for longer. Short blog posts – 400 words or less – rank much lower than long ones – 2,000 words or

Content Marketing Trends from www.marketo.com

Content Marketing Trends from www.marketo.com. Click to expand

more. And, believe it or not, longer posts are shared more often on social networks as well. Content that’s more than 3,000 words is shared two to three times more than content that’s less than 1,000 words. If you want to position yourself as an expert, well researched and data-driven posts will do it for the B2B segment. But, what about the retail prospect? Retail buyers respond to a blend of entertainment and information, with the fun part being dominant. Quizzes, Polls, Contests and Surveys are essential elements in the mix along with Images and Video. Recent research from the Content Marketing Institute show that all content managers use similar tools – B2B and B2C – but the emphasis is different. In B2C emotion plays a larger role than data. The key to expressing that emotion is to tell a story within your content. That story has to show that you can solve their personal problem and remove their pain point. Finally, not all content formats work equally well. While video posts may be great for news websites it seems that ‘what’ and ‘how’ posts work best for automotive. (To see a more detailed analysis visit Neil Patel’s page here and Hubspot’s post here.) What’s clear from all the research is that you need to experiment with a variety of different types of content and measure the results to see what your audience responds to best.

What content should you create?

Five years from now, this blog will probably be a video. You will watch it, not read it. According to Cisco Systems, the US technology firm, video will be 82% of all internet traffic by 2021. Mobile phone traffic will grow at 46% a year between 2016 and 2021 and be almost double the traffic passing through computers. A lot of that traffic will be video. By 2021 there will be 3.5 devices connected to the internet for every person on the planet. Many will be streaming, talking about and sharing video

Contrast that vision with the current activity by automotive brands. Over 70% of automotive brand’s social media upload is a photo. Less than 20% is video even though it gets double the number of comments and almost three times the number of shares. Videos cost more money and effort but are probably more effective. A trio of VW videos in 2014 racked up 155 million views on YouTube. Volkswagen’s Star Wars-themed “The Force” still sits at number one in the top 20 chart of the most-shared Super Bowl ads of all time. As the Guardian reported “the VW videos at least demonstrate video’s inherent share-ability. Engage viewers and they will share the video with others. They will spend longer on your website and more time interacting with your brand.”

Are there any guidelines for a budding video director? Think of your audience. Men and women share different types of content. Research by Shareablee, a social media content analyser, show that women want to share content that makes them look smart, while men want to look funny. Both, however, have a desire to share content that makes them look good. They also suggest that millennials want to be funny while older people want to tell a story. A third of people aged 18–24 want to look funny when sharing content. As we get older, our desire for our social shares to tell a story or actually be useful rises as dramatically as our desire to look funny falls. Only 5 percent of people aged 55+ care about looking funny when sharing content. Finally, the content must help the audience in one of three ways. The most popular, engaging publishers on social media consistently share content that either makes an audience feel knowledgeable, helps them relive certain moments and experiences, and/or provides a valuable utility. It helps people.

So, videos are great but what if you need content in a hurry?  Hubspot, specialists on inbound marketing – selling, to you and me – classify posts into five types. In their opinion, each one adds value if done well:

  1. How-to posts introduce a problem, offer a solution, and then discuss each step to reach the desired result.
  2. Lists are exactly what they sound like — they focus on a particular topic, offer a number of points about the topic, and provide a brief conclusion.
  3. What-posts provide further information on a specific topic, with many articles surrounding comparisons of one thing to another.
  4. Why-posts typically provide readers with a reason or purpose and provide details that support a focused conclusion.
  5. Videos are also self-explanatory, providing the audience with a dynamic visual of the topic discussed within the post.

During a six-month period of analysis, Hubspot found Lists and Why-posts proved to have the most reliable social traction, averaging around 21,000 shares per month with over 22% of shares. What-posts were the riskiest format, but still achieved 18% of shares. As you might imagine, How-to posts were the most consistent performers with automotive consumers.

Who Does It Well?

National Geographic leads on social mediaThe one name that stands out in social media worldwide is an organization that has been active since the late 19th century Social Media storytelling at National Geographicand is a non-profit: National Geographic. Let me explain why: National Geographic has around 150 million followers across Facebook (44MN), Instagram (82MN) and Twitter (20MN) and, according to Claudia Malley, their Chief Marketing Officer, they had 730 million consumers in 2016 (they’re a non-profit, so they don’t have customers). They rely heavily on photographs to tell stories. “Invest in the storytelling and the storytellers,” Malley advises. “We live in a content-saturated world” so brands must understand how to differentiate themselves from others”. Sure, National Geographic have a century’s worth of great photos to choose from but their view is that the story is the key message. The photos are how it’s communicated. If you want inspiration, check out their Instagram feed which has 80+ million followers alone  – Nat. Geo on Instagram. But their Facebook posts are just as good. Often just a single photo with a 30-word story alongside is enough to generate shares, likes and more fans for the National Geographic brand – Nat.Geo on Facebook. Take a look at both. Your time won’t be wasted.  Each page on its own is a master class in social media content. Add to that their Topics listing page covering a range of human interest topics and you’ll understand why they out-rank every other content publisher. Reportedly, in 2015, they had 8 times as many social interactions as their nearest rival, buzzfeed.

Who Does It Well In Automotive?

Here are a few of the best automotive social media campaigns that caught my eye in 2016 featured on wayin.com and You Tube :

  1. Chevrolet creatively tapped into social media influencers to introduce its Chevrolet Trax. Each influencer was given an itinerary to explore venues that were off-the-beaten path (in their brand new crossover vehicle, of course) and share their experiences in real time on the major social networks.
  2. Hyundai hacked Instagram to help car buyers find their perfect match. The digital campaign tapped into the appeal of social media lifestyle quizzes and used an amazing execution of the “Tag” feature to lead consumers to their ideal Hyundai SUV.
  3. Nissan put social listening into action when it discovered an aspiring film-maker selling a 1996 Maxima on Craigslist. The auto-maker struck viral gold—and turned the seller into a highly influential advocate—by purchasing the car and building a creative campaign around the story.

 

 

One final point – Check Your Website’s Performance

A slow loading site, page crashes or complex navigation will undermine all of your content, no matter how good it is. While marketing people often think that personalized content is most important, users don’t. Research shows that the top 5 attributes are: 1. Easy to navigate; 2. Fast loading pages; 3. Reliable and doesn’t crash 4. Responsive on all platforms; and 5. Simple layout. If you don’t have a functioning website, visitors will move on and few will come back for a second look. All your efforts will be wasted.

Last words- are you convinced?

Have I managed to convince you that content is one of the keys to digital and social media success? Even if I have, creating great content is not the end of the job. Unless you promote it – and that means paying to advertise your posts – no one will find it. I’ll cover that in the next post.

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