Has social media marketing lost its punch (and what to do instead)

People in workshop on laptop

It seems many Members have decided social media marketing isn’t worth the time and effort. Here’s what to do instead.

Maintaining a social media presence for your automotive business takes a lot of time and effort. If you want to actually reach customers with your message, it can also be expensive. So, is it worth the investment?

It seems in recent years many Members have decided the answer to that question is no.

Are auto businesses walking away from social media?

In late 2019 when Capricorn first asked Members about their marketing and promotion habits, 51% of those who responded said they used social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

When we asked the same question again in early 2021, for State of the Nation, that figure had dropped to 45%.

Why the drop? We can’t be certain, because we didn’t ask that specific question. But it’s likely auto business owners just aren’t seeing their social media activity bring in customers and dollars.

If you want to reach customers, social media is pay-to-play

We can be reasonably confident in that assertion because the auto industry isn’t alone in walking away from social. Across industries and countries, businesses are leaving Facebook and Instagram accounts languishing because their posts simply aren’t effective.

Organic reach (that is, how many people see your unpaid posts) on an average Facebook post for a small business is wallowing at around 5.2%. That means less than one in 20 of your followers will see your post.

Facebook’s explanation for this is that there’s a lot of competition to appear in a person’s feed each time they log into Facebook (although that doesn’t explain why you’re always seeing the same posts every time you open the app).

Of course, what Facebook really wants is for you to pay to advertise. That’s how they make money, after all. If you want to reach more customers, you need to pay up.

People in office working on tablet

Don’t build your house on rented land

What’s happened with organic reach (which was originally very good for businesses) is a prime example of why it’s not a good idea to make any one social media channel a key part of your marketing strategy.

When you do that, you’re at the mercy of the social media company. It’s their platform, and they can change the rules on you at any moment. You spend time, money and effort building your audience of followers on that channel, and then the social media company turns off the taps. Suddenly you’re left with nothing.

Don’t let another business control how you communicate with your customers.

Here’s what you should do instead

The best idea is to build your own audience. You already have a database of customers. It’s important to bear in mind that there are privacy laws concerning when an individual’s personal information can be used for marketing and spam legislation applying to certain commercial electronic messages. However provided those laws are complied with, your list of customer email addresses is potentially the most valuable marketing asset your business owns.

A recent study found email marketing is by far the most effective marketing channel in terms of return on investment. It found email returns $36 for every $1 spent.

There are several reasons email marketing is so great. Subject to compliance with applicable privacy and spam legislation:

  • You can reach out to your customers directly, whenever you want
  • You can hit customers with whatever message you want, including special offers, reminders, important information, tips and advice
  • Customers receive the message whenever they’re looking at their inbox (not while they’re scrolling Facebook and distracted by cat videos)
  • It’s cheap, it’s simple and it’s effective.

If you’re one of those who has been finding social media just isn’t working for you anymore, then consider switching your energies to email marketing instead.

By all means keep a presence on Facebook and Instagram, but don’t make those platforms your primary means of communicating with customers.

Download your free copy of State of the Nation 2021.

Disclaimer: Applicable privacy legislation may constrain or prevent the use of an individual’s personal information for marketing purposes. Applicable spam legislation may also operate to impose restrictions on the sending commercial electronic communications in certain circumstances. Members who have questions regarding the implications of these laws on their business should seek independent advice.

This article was published 19/04/2022 and the content is current as at the date of publication.