The new social media websites seem to be a perfect way to connect with new customers but will social media such as Yelp, MerchantCircle, Twitter, or Facebook work for auto repair shops?
Marketing is all about connecting with people. For advertising to be effective you need the person's attention and interest. Social networking can be a fabulous marketing tool if your target market participates and you provide a common 'local' interest to bring them together.
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If your customers are not social network users they will be soon. If your smart you will be too. Rest assured your competition will be. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s 2008 tracking survey, the share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in four years -- from 8% in 2005 to 35% in 2008.
When you look at the demographics the largest group of the general population, adults, are just starting to adopt social networking as a way to connect. Specifically, the Pew study findings suggest that young people are much more likely than older adults to use social networks:
- 75% of online adults 18-24 have a profile on a social network site
- 57% of online adults 25-34 have a profile on a social network
- 30% of online adults 35-44 have one
- 19% of online 45 to 54 year olds have a profile
- 10% of online 55 to 64 year olds have a profile
- 7% of online adults 65 and older have a profile
As this adult group ages an increasing number will use social networks. Social networking is just on the verge of Social Density – a point where society takes the technology for granted (think e-mail).
It is very clear that now is the time to get started and learn as social media marketing grows and matures.
Ease of access to people makes social networking a marketing dream come true. Demand for permission before contact, due largely to e-mail spam, is greatly reduced within the confines of a social network. People will freely connect with relative strangers that have just the slightest connection. A common interest or person is enough to bring hundreds, if not thousands, of people together. But for businesses with a local target market how can auto repair shops connect with local people with a high probability of becoming a customer?
Local Customer Base
Automotive repair shops typically have a very local target market. There is very little value in connecting with people who live or work further than 25 miles or 40 km away from your business. Sure there is the chance that they will know someone within that zone but the odds of that connection are slim. What you need to do is create your own 'local' network within the larger global social network.
Nobody else is truly interested in the daily activities of your business. Sure you will get your immediate friends and family to become your 'friends', but after the initial congratulations interest in your profile will quickly die. And what can you honestly write about your business on a daily, let alone weekly, basis? Like the person who constantly talks about themselves people quickly loose interest – boring! What you need is a topic that sparks interest and has lots to write about.
To build a network of potential customers you need to create a group based on 'local' interests. The second key is to choose topics that people are very interested in and want to talk about. Don't just focus on your person interests or industry based topics. Think of your customer demographics and their interests. There are lots of women who care for their own car. Find out what they are interested in and include those. Sponsor a sports team, clubs, or community or charity organizations. Hunting & fishing have a huge interest. Parents are interested in activities associated to their children: baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, BMX, dance, etc. Or just report on these events and organizations. Post information about events, report on activities, post photos, etc to generate interest and momentum for your profile. Make your profile the destination for people to gather and communicate. Your business will benefit from the initial introduction, exposure, recognition, and trust built from association with groups over time. No hard sell required.
Social media marketing is all about making connections; an activity that people WANT to do. Every age group is quickly adopting social networking as a new way to connect. Shop owners who embrace social media as a new method of auto repair shop marketing will discover a great way to build relationships with potential customers. And one of the strongest selling points is it's largely all available for free. What are you waiting for?
Hope this helps,