Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.
Despite a majority of car buyers completing their purchase at a dealership, 97% start their journey online.That means if you’re not building trust with a well-rounded digital strategy, you’re losing a ton of potential customers.Yes, there’s SEO and paid ad campaigns. But Instagram is growing as a platform of choice for car dealers due to its visual nature and high engagement rates.The exciting thing is that not many of your competitors are knocking Instagram out of the park. There is still a LOT of opportunity to make a statement on this social network if you use the right tactics.To help you out, I’ve identified three automotive companies that are performing well on Instagram and analyzed what they’re doing well.
EchoPark Automotive is a used car dealer providing 1-4 year old, low mileage vehicles in dealerships right across the USA. They’ve also grown a highly engaged Instagram following of over 15,000 people.Here’s what they are doing well:
1. Consistent On-Brand Color Scheme
In all of EchoPark’s posts, they include a splash of their green brand colors. This strategy increases the chance that someone will remember the business. The more a potential customer is exposed to your brand color scheme online, the more likely they will notice your dealership as they drive past. It’s how the brain works.
2. Categorized Story Highlights
Another thing EchoPark does well is to utilize the “Story Highlights” feature which allows you to extend the life of your Instagram Stories beyond the allotted 24-hour window. You can categorize your Stories into segments so that potential customers can better navigate your content and find the information they need. EchoPark, for example, has used categories that reinforce their value proposition - Experience, Quality, Price, and Community.
3. Lots of Video Content
EchoPark’s video channel on Instagram is jam-packed full of fun car-related videos, customer stories, and other creative content that complements its brand. As you can see from the screenshot above, some of their videos are getting thousands of organic views. That’s a direct reflection of the high engagement rates of video content on Instagram at the moment. Don’t miss the opportunity to spread the reach of your brand with interesting videos.
4. Authentic Customer Photos
There is nothing more powerful than authentic user-generated content for building trust with prospective customers. That moment when someone buys a car from your dealership is exciting and filled with emotion. Capturing a photo and using it in your Instagram strategy is an effective way to place new prospects in the shoes of your happy customers.You could even ask your clients to share their experience on social media and create a branded hashtag to categorize customer photos. You can create a page for your website with ShortStack that is a feature wall of happy customers!
5. Offline Social Media Alignment
At the end of the day, car dealerships are still predominantly offline businesses. As I mentioned in the intro, most deals are closed in person. So while Instagram is an important platform for growing brand awareness and establishing trusted relationships with customers, you need to connect it with the offline world.EchoPark does a good job of bringing online and offline efforts together by using the hashtag #mycarparty at their locations. This cross-pollinates your audiences (online and off) so they interact with you on multiple levels.
DriveTime is another one of the USA’s biggest used car dealers, with over 132 dealerships. While they don’t have a massive Instagram following, they get some nice engagement and follow best practices that are worth mentioning.Here’s what they are doing well:
6. Versatile Link in Bio
For many years, Instagram only allowed links in your bio section. Even though that appears to be changing with the use of link stickers in stories, that single link on your bio is still extremely important. Tools like Linktree allow you to send Instagram users to a consolidated page of your most important links. As you can see above, DriveTime gives people numerous options for finding the information they need rather than just sending them straight to their website.
7. Compelling Client Testimonials
Just like the customer photos I mentioned earlier, client testimonials are an excellent way of helping potential customers overcome doubts and trust your service. DriveTime regularly publishes on-brand graphics featuring customer testimonials, like the one above, on Instagram. It works a treat!
8. A Touch of Humor and Fun
Instagram is a social network - most people are looking for fun, interesting, humorous, or entertaining content. So don’t be a faceless boring brand! Add a little fun and humor to your feed, as DriveTime has in the post above.
9. Visually Aware Feed
You may like to consider how potential followers are viewing your Instagram feed. For example, if they come to your profile page, they will see all of your latest posts in columns of three. DriveTime has used that knowledge to create a multi-photo visual effect that paints a bigger picture than any individual post could in isolation.Want to do the same thing? Be sure to post three photos at once to ensure the alignment stays correct!
Vegas Auto Gallery
Vegas Auto Gallery is the largest exotic and luxury car dealer in Las Vegas. They know how to show that off on Instagram, with an impressive 20k followers, plenty of quality content, and the engagement to go with it.Here’s what they are doing well:
10. Quality On-Location Content
Not only does Vegas Auto Gallery show its high-end vehicles in stunning Instagram photos and videos, but they also make the most of the Vegas surrounds. In this example, you can see palm trees and several famous Vegas buildings in the background. It captures the essence of Las Vegas and makes these photos unique and interesting to this dealership. Think about how you can do the same.
11. Extensive Use of Reels
Another tactic that stands out with Vegas Auto Gallery’s Instagram strategy is its use of Reels. Instagram Reels are super-hot right now. Basically, the algorithm is favoring Reels over other content and more people are seeing them. Some Reels are getting ten times the views and engagement of a regular post. You can see this represented in the above screenshot, most of Vegas Auto Gallery’s posts get around 100 likes - whereas some of these Reels have over 10,000 views! Impressive.
Marketing a car dealership on Instagram isn’t significantly different from a real estate agent, restaurant, sports team, or any other kind of business. But there are certainly some subtleties.At its core, an effective Instagram strategy comes down to quality content, regular publishing, consistent branding, and social proof elements.For car dealers, just remember that most customers will want to take the sale offline, so be sure to connect your marketing efforts across those channels.Good luck!
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