Social Media Marketing Tactics & Strategies for the Automotive Industry to increase sales

Automotive Dealership Marketing has surpassed the days of giving out pamphlets or making cold calls. The new generation tends to ignore these handouts and they find cold calls annoying – suspicious, even, as well as sometimes distrustful.

Then there is the fact that customers spend less time in-store and more time looking for cars on the web, social media and 3rd party sales websites like Gumtree.

So, as a dealership, you must now adapt and reach customers online with car social media marketing.

If you are new to social media, you can get in touch with our agency to guide you through the whole process.

But if you have some knowledge on the subject but want to know more? Read through our suggested tactics and strategies for social media marketing in the automotive industry below.

#1 Show off your online customer experience 

In the car industry selling cars is your main goal, but social media advertising gives you an opportunity to market some of your other offers/services or as we like to call is, ‘customer experience’. Your online customer experiences are just as important as your promotions or low prices. Most dealerships offer the same services, such as booking test drives, financing even trading in vehicles.

Social media gives you an opportunity to advertise those services in a fun and engaging way

You can focus on promoting your easy-to-use test drive sign-ups

For example, Ford focused on the benefit angle to get users to test drive the new Ford Focus.

Mazda MyWay, on the other hand, decided to gain customers’ attention by implying that they can do a test drive during their lunch break. Offering this type of service is an excellent way to convince customers to physically come in to visit your store.

If you offer trade-in services, get the attention of price-conscious customers

According to a Visual Marketing Study by Business 2 Community, “We’ve seen how visual communication takes place at lightning speed in the human brain. We know that the most effective marketing is visual in nature in part because of the speed at which customers skim from one activity to the next on the rapid-fire smartphone/tablet landscape.”

That is why a good picture can make all the difference in getting a lead.

Chat directly with prospective customers through Facebook Messenger, adding that much needed personal touch. Guide them to your website to complete the purchase journey, or you could set up a test drive.

You could use any of these examples and add your own flair to it. That’s the beauty of social media advertising for car dealerships – it’s flexible and offers loads of opportunities. If you are not sure what to offer, have a look at your analytics to see which pages/services are the most popular on your website. Take those popular services and promote them on social media. Have fun and get creative with it, distinguish yourself from the competition. Thinking outside the box is almost certain to count in your favour.

The ultimate goal here is to show potential customers all the services you have to offer as a dealership.

#2 Grab attention with social video ads

Everyone loves watching videos. It is one of the most engaging forms of content, and with today’s social media-obsessed world of today, most people prefer to consume content via video. Social media channels have taken note and are much more video-driven. You only have to look at the success of platforms such as YouTube to know this is true..

According to HubSpot, “Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.”

This gives auto dealerships an opportunity to advertise their vehicles as well as promotions with attention-grabbing videos. Based on what Force Marketing said about the fact that 84% of car shoppers plan to watch auto videos the next time they are in the market for a car, it’s the perfect method to get more customers.

Your next step would be to choose your platform as well as video types

STEP 1: Decide which social platform works for your dealership

The first question you should always ask is: “Which social media platform should I choose?” Below you will find a list compiled of some of the most popular video ad-friendly social media platform options..


YouTube features different video formats you could choose from. It’s a good option if you’re a car dealership since you could create videos ranging from 5-seconds long to 3 minutes. It’s not advisable to go over 2 minutes though, as people have a shorter attention span these days and easily become bored.

Below is a great example of a Bumper Ad by Mercedes-Benz Singapore.

Facebook and Instagram

The automotive social media marketing space has grown so much over the years. Facebook &Instagram now offer many video options and, as we all know, you can’t scroll through any one of these platforms without seeing a video or video ad. On mobile, Facebook also has a watch icon which is solely dedicated to watching videos. Within these videos, you encounter ads – many, many ads.

This obviously gives your car dealership ample opportunity to market to audiences located far and wide.

Let’s have a look at both the desktop mobile video ad options on Facebook and Instagram:

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  1. Facebook News Feed

Automatically play videos in the news feed.

  1. Instagram Feed

Newsfeed ads work best if they are 15-30 seconds long. As a user scrolls you want to catch their attention, but not interrupt their scrolling flow too much. You want your message to be clear within that limited time frame – make every second count..

  1. Facebook Suggested Videos

Opting for Facebook suggested videos means your ads will be played in both Facebook’s Watch feed and suggested videos feed. If you’re targeting cold audiences – consumers unfamiliar with your product/service – this is a wonderful way to reach out to them and breed familiarity.

  1. Facebook Right Column

A lesser-used placement option, ads appear in Facebook’s right column across the site to those browsing on their desktops. As this ad placement is exclusive to desktop view, you may not get as much reach as with mobile-friendly ad placements options.

  1. Messenger Inbox

The placement of ads in-between conversations on Facebook’s Messenger home tab hasn’t been a hit with audiences thus far, because of its intrusive nature. Clicking on one of these ads will lead to a detailed view of the full ad within Messenger, alongside a call to action (CTA). The CTA button will direct to whichever destination was specified when setting up the ad.

  1. Facebook Stories

This is an ad placement space worth watching, as the organic use of the Stories function has grown exponentially. This format could be a smart automotive social media marketing move, as your dealership has the potential to reach incredible amounts of consumers. Stories ad placement is available on three platforms – Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

  1. Instagram Stories

Have a look at number six above.

  1. Messenger Stories

Have a look at number 6 above.

  1. Facebook In-Stream Videos Placement

In-stream video ads are placed before or during video content. The key is to keep them short as well. These ads can go up to 30 seconds, but we recommend no longer than 15 seconds. You are basically interrupting someone while they watch a video, so you want to keep it brief. If you can pull of a 6-second video ad, you are in the gold.

Facebook and Instagram have totally different types of audiences.

For Instagram, it’s a good idea to target the millennials. According to Ad Espresso, nearly 2 out of 3 users between the ages of 18-29 are using Instagram. This provides the perfect opportunity to market to these audiences.

If you want to learn more on how to effectively advertise on Facebook, Hootsuite has compiled an extensive article on how to Advertise on Facebook in 2020.

STEP 2: Choose the type of video

Facebook, Instagram and YouTube all offer video advertising services just waiting to be fully embraced by social media marketing in the automotive industry. There are many video types you can choose from and these include:

About Us Videos

Share what your automotive dealership does and why – i.e. what sets you apart from your competitors, why your offering is special and why a customer must choose your dealership to buy a vehicle from.

Have a look at the Sturgess Motor Group’s Leicester dealership’s About Us video below.

Product Demo videos

These are self-explanatory. It’s a great way to showcase your product to audiences. Demonstrating how specific features work in a vehicle is way better than telling what the benefits are.

See how Bachman Volkswagen in Louisville, Kentucky demos the Volkswagen Car-Net iPhone app.

Promo videos

Promo videos are basically just specials or promotions you run. For example, if you know your price for a certain vehicle is the lowest in the market, create a promo video and market it. Include all the information your audience will need like how they can contact you and where your dealership is located.

Have a look at Muskoka Kia’s automotive dealership promo video below for some ideas.

Customer testimonial videos

These videos can include different quotes from various customers, one customer telling a story or interviews with satisfied customers. The key is not to make these videos too long. Hook and engage the consumer, then proceed with a call to action – keep things short and to the point.

Take a look at Listers Group Limited’s customer testimonial video below, regarding their Audi on-demand service, as an example.

Event Videos

Any event you run is a good advertising opportunity for your dealership. You could live stream the event while it’s happening in real-time – i.e. interview experts, show new vehicle releases and chat with attendees. You should share recaps and highlights after the event as well, with the option to boost these videos.

Live-streams of new model releases is a great way of drawing public interest and informing your consumer base. Check out this launch event live webcast from Maruti Suzuki.

Car Walkaround videos

If a new vehicle has been released, create car walkaround video to show potential customers the latest features. These videos can also be created for all other existing vehicle models..

Watch Nissan USA’s walkaround video of the 2019 Altima sedan below.

Car Care Tips videos

If you have the experts, share the knowledge. These videos should be short and sweet.

See Groove Subaru in Englewood, Colorado’s video on Subaru care tips below.

Behind the Scenes content

Behind the scenes, content can also add that personal touch to your brand.

See how Amato Automotive handled theirs behind the scenes video below.

Model Comparisons

Consumers want to know what the difference is between models and makes. Car comparison videos can do just that and help them make an informed decision.

Take a look at this Mazda3 trim level comparison video below.

New Car Launches

This is the same as a promo video but includes the excitement of unveiling a new vehicle.

Check out Land Rover UK’s new car launch video for the Range Rover Velar below.

If you are not sure which platform to choose for your automotive social media marketing campaign or want to see what different social media video ads look like, head over to Ad Parlor (Ad Mockup Generator). This fancy tool shows you what Instagram and Facebook video posts look like:

You can design your ad by adding content and videos. And as you add content it automatically generates on the right-hand side panel and you can download mock-ups afterwards.

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This tool does not allow you to download files you can upload directly to your social accounts, but it gives a great overview of what it could look like.

#3 Get back lost leads with Social Media Retargeting Ads

Retargeting forms a big part of your automotive social media marketing strategy. The goal is to send reminders to customers who visited your website but did not take action or failed to complete a process, i.e. they never completed a form, or they just browsed through pages.  It’s an opportunity to remarket on Facebook or Instagram and to remind them about your available vehicles. The goal is to stay at the top of their mind.

An easy way to explain Facebook retargeting is with the following infographic, created by Integrated PPC:

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Your ads do not necessarily have to be special offers or referral incentives (as mentioned in the infographic). You can retarget customers with normal auto ads on Facebook and Instagram regarding your available vehicles.

Retargeting topic ideas 

Special Offers & Referral Incentives

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Urgency and latest offers

A sense of urgency, reminding customers to look at the latest offers before they end.

Inventory Callouts

Below is an example of a dynamic ad that was shown to a customer who looked at a 2017 Honda Civic VDP and a search results page (SRP) of pre-owned 2014 Honda Accords:

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With Facebook dynamic retargeting ads, you can show ads to customers who have gone through your inventory or listed vehicles on your website. These ads are in carousel format, allowing a customer to swipe through the ad.

With this strategy, you have the potential to close more deals and the opportunity to get customers in-store.

#4 Get more leads with Facebook Automotive Lead Ads

Lead ads are not new. They have been around for a few years now. As a dealership it is worth checking out, especially if you offer services like requesting test drives or getting quotes, and even downloading brochures.

Lead ads consist of three steps:

Step 1: A user scrolls and sees the ad

Step 2: A user clicks on the ad and completes the form

Step 3: A user submits the form in return for information

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The great thing about lead ads is that a customer does not have to leave Facebook to complete the process. Facebook also pre-fills form fields based off a customer’s public profile info.

Below is a step by step example of BMW UK’s ‘book a test drive’ lead ad:

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What can you do with all the leads you gather?

Lead ad information can be used to take a customer further down the funnel. You can send out newsletters. You can create custom email lists and target the same people with different offers. You can send out lead emails with special offers and upcoming launches. The possibilities are endless.

If you want to read more about Facebook lead ads and automotive lead generation in general, head over to our ultimate guide to car dealership digital marketing article.

#5 Advertise your vehicles with Slideshow & Carousel Ads 

Both Facebook and Instagram offer these ad formats.

Slideshow Ads for brand awareness

If you do not have any videos for advertising, slideshow ads are the answer. This ad format can turn your images into a video. All you have to do is choose a few photos (up to 7 on Facebook and up to 10 on Instagram), add audio and include some text overlays. These ads work best if you tell a story. For example, you can showcase the interior or exterior features of a vehicle or do a walkthrough of your auto dealership.

Carousel Ads for inventory

Carousel ads are straightforward and easy to create, making this a must for automotive dealerships. With these ads, you could show off your latest inventory, list pre-owned vehicle specials, showcase interior and exterior features and even show what services you offer.

Below is an example of the interior view of a vehicle. They’ve placed the photos to encourage users to keep on scrolling to see more.

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#6 Share customer success stories

Social media accounts are not just there for advertising. Adding a personal or human touch to the automotive social media marketing strategy is what will set you apart from other automotive dealerships.

There are many ways to do so, one of which is the telling of success stories (happy customers). A happy customer is a gold mine and sharing that positivity with prospective customers is a fantastic strategy.

If a customer buys a vehicle, take a photo of them with the vehicle and post it on your social media account. You can also get in touch with everyone that has bought a vehicle from your dealership and ask them to send a selfie with their car. Each of these happy customers can also provide a review on your Facebook page – just proceed to post these reviews on your website. This is invaluable content that connects a prospective customer with a happy customer.

Below is an example of a customer who just bought a vehicle:

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#7 Create social competitions and/or promotions

Hopefully, you now see that there is so much more to social media marketing in the automotive industry than meets the eye. It’s about keeping consumers engaged and interested in your dealership’s goods and services in a way that best showcases what makes your dealership stand out from the competition. Always remember to be creative and have fun during this process – reward your social media following with contests and promotions exclusive to a dealership’s social media accounts..

There you have it: 7 tips on how you can elevate your automotive social media marketing strategy.

We have only mentioned a few of the social media marketing tactics you can implement to help your business flourish. There are many more social media tactics and advertising methods that can help boost your dealership’s current marketing. It’s best to start with the basics and go from there. Remember: automotive social media marketing changes every day, and it’s a good idea to keep up with the latest trends.

Interested in some more expert insights that could help propel your automotive dealership forward? Read our automotive digital marketing article here.

Want to learn how a social media marketing agency can help grow your brand in general? We’ve got the answers here.

If you need help with your social media marketing or are unsure of where to start, contact us or schedule a free 15-minute automotive dealership digital strategy assessment!