Twitter recently re-ignited interest in the platform by announcing the test of 280-character tweets, which doubles the 140-character maximum in place. The goal is for the platform to give its 328 million monthly active users more room to share content and reduce the frustration of having to cram their tweets into 140 characters or less. The test is available to a limited number of users; if successful, the expanded character count could be rolled out to everyone, including, of course, automotive dealerships on Twitter.
The renewed interest in Twitter is a reminder that the platform can provide value to automobile dealerships to build their brands. Here are five tips to consider in doing so:
- Capitalize on OEM promotions. According to MarketShare, Twitter influenced more than $700 million in car sales in 2013 (when the data was reported). As reported in Advertising Age, OEMs were driving those sales through Twitter promotions. For example, Acura made it possible for users to configure their own TLX sedan with an in-tweet configurator, and Jaguar raised visibility for its “Your Turn” F-Type marketing campaign by running promoted tweets to people who were live tweeting about TV shows adjacent to Jaguar ads. These kinds of promotions create opportunities for local dealerships to ride the OEMs’ coattails. For example, dealerships can use their own Twitter accounts to comment on the OEM campaigns when they begin trending, leverage the same hashtags that the OEMs are using, and make customers aware that the dealership carries the same makes/models that are being promoted. Why not benefit from the promotions already implemented by OEMs on Twitter?
- Test promotions of your own. Twitter is a more passive platform in that its users often log on to quickly scan news, comments from their friends, and read entertaining content. To engage with potential customers, we encourage you to try test promotions of your own, such as dealership events, instead of hoping Twitter users will simply find your content. Consider using Twitter for micro-targeted advertising around specific locations, audience segments, and dates in order to maximize the timing of a promotion (e.g., in the run-up to a holiday sale). The expanded character limit should be especially helpful in sharing details about a specific promotion.
- Humanize your brand. Twitter is a great way to make your customers aware of the people at your dealership. One potentially effective tactic is to share community goodwill efforts on Twitter, for instance posting photos of your employees participating in local charitable causes. You can also use Twitter to give shout-outs to employees when they achieve milestones such as service awards or industry recognition. Doing so not only builds up the morale of your people, but also raises their visibility with customers.
- Tell visual stories. A while ago, Twitter stopped counting photos in its character limit, which was a huge breakthrough for brands that rely on the power of visual storytelling. And automotive dealers are all about relying on the visual power of their vehicles. If you actively manage a Twitter account, you should be maximizing its value to highlight cars on your lot — through a “daily showcase” of a recently acquired vehicle or, even better, photos of happy customers with their cars (with their permission, of course). Photos of customers with related shout-outs constitute a great way to build customer goodwill. Cars.com continues to see the best engagement on our social accounts when we use a variety of photos versus a singular shot.
- Provide a utility. One of the challenges all businesses have with Twitter is keeping the flow of content going. The more you tweet interesting content, the more likely you will gain a customer following. Many brands maintain a high volume of content on Twitter by sharing their own branded editorial information, such as blog posts. If your dealership lacks the time and resources, consider using your account to share useful news from publications you follow — such as news about industry trends that your customers might want to know about.
Depending on how much time you can devote, Twitter affords many other possibilities to attract and maintain customers — such as customer service. Meanwhile, the possible global expansion of the 280-character limit will create more real estate for auto dealers to capitalize on the five opportunities I’ve outlined here. Cars.com would be happy to talk more about how to grow your business or give you guidance on your social strategy.