WITH SO MANY SOCIAL media platforms to choose from (and new ones cropping up faster than you can say “Facebook timeline”), it’s hard to discern which ones dealers should pay attention to for their marketing purposes. While we’re pretty sure that the 800-lb. gorilla that is Facebook will be around for awhile, will sites like Twitter and Pinterest last? And is Google+ a smart time investment for niche businesses? We turn to two industry experts, Powersports Marketing’s VP of operations Brad Cannon and Duo Web Solutions CEO Heather Blessington, to ask their thoughts on each of the major social media platforms, and whether or not dealers should give them a second look.
Note: Unless stated otherwise, all social media statistics are derived from Online MBA, an organization that recently conducted a demographic study of social media platforms. You can view a nifty and easy-to-read infographic regarding these statistics by clicking on this link.
Demographics: 845 million active users; 43 percent male, 57 percent female
Interesting points: 22 percent of Facebook users are between the ages of 35 and 44, while a whopping 46 percent of users are 45 years old and older. (The Motorcycle Industry Council pins the average motorcycle rider as a 40-year-old male.)
If you’re an avid Dealernews reader, you know that we constantly remind dealers that Facebook should be a crucial part of your marketing arsenal (a “no-brainer,” according to Blessington), regardless of what segment of the powersports market you cater to. “The biggest reason to be on Facebook is because that’s where everyone is,” Cannon says. “If Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world, behind China and India.” Based on just those sheer numbers alone, he continues, Cannon would pool most of his online marketing efforts into the Facebook bucket. For dealers who can budget for it, Cannon suggests purchasing Facebook ads that specifically target the market you’re aiming for. “You can not only target according to geography, but you can also use psychographics,” Cannon says. “Facebook allows you to choose to show your ads to people who, say, only like Hayabusas or cruisers. So I would recommend Facebook for every segment.”
One tip: Allow Facebook to convey the personality of your dealership, and let your web site focus on generating sales leads, Cannon says. You can de-clutter your website by transferring your event and customer photos to your Facebook page.
Demographics: 127 million active users; 41 percent male, 59 percent female
Interesting points: 33 percent of Tweeters are over the age of 45, while 25 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44. More than half of Twitter users (54 percent) are using their mobile devices to Tweet.
Blessington states that out of all the dealers she’s worked with, it’s the Harley-Davidson dealers who frequent Twitter more than any other segment. “Harley dealers seem to be the only ones that get the power of Twitter,” she says. “And I think that’s tied into all of the events that Harley dealers generally have – especially in the summer.”
To see for yourself, log on to Twitter and do a quick hashtag search for Harley-Davidson or Harley (it looks like this: #Harley, #Harley-Davidson). Chances are, you’ll see a lot of tagged activity from fans, dealers and The Motor Co. itself. Blessington mentions that the motocross crowd seems to have a large presence on Twitter as well.
Though Blessington and Cannon are somewhat split in their opinions regarding Twitter and its effectiveness on powersports businesses – Cannon cites a statistic that states 49 percent of Twitter users don’t check their accounts regularly while Blessington is pro Twitter – they both agree that there is a right way and a wrong way to use the platform. “While I wouldn’t tell dealers to ignore it, I would say to not invest tons of time creating really good Twitter posts,” Cannon says. “I would use it to drive people back to Facebook,” Cannon says. “It’s very simple to link both your Facebook and Twitter accounts, so when you post on Facebook, it sends the post to Twitter.”
One also can use Twitter as a substitute for SMS text marketing. “Say, hey, we’ve got an event happening this weekend and boom, send it out on Twitter, letting [your customers] know about it,” he says.
Blessington also mentions that Twitter is an important link to have on your dealership blog or web site. “Don’t treat your social media as little islands,” she says. “You use social media to drive traffic to your blog. The things you talk about on Facebook and Twitter, those should be on your blog, too. (Side note: Blogs are important to have, Blessington says, because Google uses them to establish your authority and rankings in its search engine.)
Demographics: 21 million unique visitors (and growing), 18 percent male, 82 percent female
Interesting points: 35 percent of users are over the age of 45, while 29 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44. The top geographical locations of Pinterest users are in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Pinterest is the newest and fastest-growing social media darling. And just like with Twitter, Blessington and Cannon are split in their opinions of this platform as well – so it all boils down to whether or not the individual dealer has time to invest in this site, Cannon says, after investing their time in key sites like Facebook.
“Pinterest is a good site; a solid site. The challenge is it’s not a good site to this market,” says Cannon, referring to Pinterest’s largely female demographic. “Again according to MIC stats available, your average rider is a 40-year-old male who makes $55,000 a year.”
But in looking to build a larger female customer base, Pinterest may be your answer. Vespa, for example, launched a marketing campaign aimed at women in conjunction with fashion house kate spade new york (read that story here). And, Blessington says, the male population of Pinterest is growing fast.
One can look to Motorcycle Superstore and American Honda Motor Co. for more examples on how to use the site. Motorcycle Superstore (click here) uses its Pinterest boards to post photos of new products, which are in turn repinned by followers who like their stuff. “That’s smart,” Blessington says. “You’ve got all these beautiful and awesome photos from OEMs and such, and they’re ideal for pinning to Pinterest boards.”
Honda is just getting started with its Pinterest efforts. “We want to have a presence on Pinterest because, as you know, it’s one of the fastest-growing social networks,” says Laura Ebner, assistant manager of social media at American Honda Motor Co. “Honda and Acura fans are already pinning pictures of our vehicles, so we know they’re on Pinterest and we’d like to give them an opportunity to engage with us in that space.” Ebner says that driving traffic back to Honda’s web sites also is a main goal of using Pinterest.
Those forging ahead with Pinterest should remember that the site is a two-way street. A dealer can create boards and pin all-things motorcycles onto them, but they also should repin and reach out to other people using the site, too. “It can’t just be self-serving. Don’t just put pictures up and expect other people to repin you,” Blessington says. “Spend the time repinning other people’s pictures, too.”
Demographic: 90 million unique visitors; 71 percent male, 29 percent female
Interesting points: 11 percent of users are over the age of 45, while 50 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44.
Google+ is the megacompany’s own social media platform, launched in November of last year. So far, it’s shown steady growth, especially among the male population. Both Blessington and Cannon believe that because of the power behind the Google name, as well as its assets (the company currently owns YouTube), that Google+ is a social media platform that should be on your radar. Though, because it’s so new, dealers should think about having a presence on the site, but wait to act.
“I think it will grow, and will get better,” Cannon says. “But right now, it’s still brand new, and it still really is not like Facebook in that you can’t advertise right on the page. The average dealer is not going to have that kind of time to invest in what it would take to cultivate a crowd there yet.”
One thing to consider, however, is that the automotive industry has a budding presence on the site. “And we’re so closely connected to automotive that it might be a no-brainer to be on the site,” Blessington says. “So we tell dealers [if they have an account], to keep it in sync with your Facebook page.”