We have looked at thousands of social media posts made by body shops all over the country. My team at Optima Automotive is approaching 1 million posts for our clients. We’ve seen it all at. The key question that a shop must ask themselves, when they are considering what to post, is “who am I posting for, me or my target audience?” Most of the time what we are seeing is shops are posting for themselves. Let me explain.
Your target audience only needs a body shop when they need one. Given industry statistics, that means your target audience needs you only once every seven years or so. Why in the world would anyone follow a body shop online if they don’t need you until they need you? Especially when most shops are posting things they really don’t care about. Sorry to be blunt, but it is true. Social media is about building brand awareness, not advertising. People are hit by advertising all the time from multiple sources. They would really rather not have their entertainment interrupted by advertising, yet that’s what too many shops do.
We Give You A Lot Of Credit
Let me give you credit where it is deserved. You have made a significant investment in equipment, training, tools and people. You are proud of that, and rightfully so. Hat tip to you. You may also get great reviews. You have earned those reviews. You are proud of that, too, and your team. You care about that and want to highlight it, promote it, get that ROI. However, unless an individual needs a body shop right now they simply don’t care. And yet that is what we see more often than not when we look at what shops are posting. They highlight their OEM certifications. They boast about their training, equipment. They post their reviews. In fact some shops post nothing but their reviews. They fight with insurance companies, taking their shots at DRP shops and insurers and do so in a fairly belligerent manner.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. It might be years before they need a body shop. If they follow a shop online and all they see are reviews, or posts highlighting the shop’s certifications, before and after photos, pictures of a repair in process or paint being sprayed, or fighting with insurance companies, what do you think their response will be? Unless they eat, breathe and dream about cars all the time like you do, or are down for the struggle with insurers, like you may be, they simply won’t care and many of them, if not most, will unfollow you or not pay any attention to what you post.
So What Should A Shop Post?
If you are going to post on social media you have to post things that are for your target audience. Something that is interesting, engaging. Something that adds value to their lives. Examples of this include car care tips, driving tips, interesting things, humorous things (be careful here), local events and any community service you are participating in. That kind of posting will keep your audience engaged with your brand until they, or a friend of family member, need a body shop. That kind of posting will get their participation with your brand through liking what you post, commenting on what you post or sharing what you post. Given our nearly 1 million posts on behalf of your clients we have a lot of data on what works and what doesn’t, and this data backs up everything I am telling you to post.
IMPORTANT- You CAN post before and after photos, reviews, your OEM recognitions, just not exclusively. The suggestion is that you post these things a maximum of once a month. Spread them out over the month so they aren’t all together.
FREQUENCY- How often should you post? We suggest posting at least 4 times a week on Facebook and twice a week on Instagram. We aren’t seeing any ROI worth spending time on any other platform other than YouTube, which should be used to stream to your website. Ask us how we do it for our clients and why.
Bottom line for social media posting… post with your target audience in mind, not what you may wish to post. Do not advertise all the time. Do not post nothing but before and after photos, reviews and your certifications. These kinds of posts are ok in moderation, but turn off your followers if you do too much. Don’t take your battles with insurers to social media. It’s not your target audience’s fight. It’s ok to educate your followers that they have the right to choose where to have their car fixed, but again, do it in moderation. Seek engagement, entertain and educate your audience. Make them laugh. Add value to your relationship with them and they will be more likely to remember you when they need a body shop.
See below for examples of social media fails and successes…
Social Media Fails
Here a shop posted that they love a full shop. A follower suggests that the shop should just advertise, not share this kind of “crap” every day. The shop responds that they are proud of what they do and proud of their team, and then invite the person not to follow if they would rather not see this kind of posting. This speaks right to what I covered earlier. This shop is posting for themselves, not for their target audience. They got offended when their target audience suggested to post something other than “crap”. They said the person didn’t have to follow them, and I’ll bet he isn’t anymore, along with who knows how many others unfollowed. Not good.
Here’s the worst social media fail we’ve ever come across, It’s a video of a fight between two employees in the shop. It appears to be the shop employees gathering on a Friday afternoon, cracking open a few cold ones at the end of a week of work. One employee appears to be overserved and starts picking a fight. It gets a bit ugly and there is a great deal of profanity. A child gets doused in beer. The name of the shop is included in the video and it has been seen over 17,000 times over many, many years. It’s still there. What is this shop thinking?
Here’s a common error. Your profile image should always be your logo. It often isn’t. Here’s an example of someone wearing a mask as their profile image. This does nothing for brand recognition.
Worse yet, look at the second image. A guy without a shirt in the shop. Nobody wants to see something like that. How fast would you unfollow?
Social Media Successes- These are all posts we at Optima Automotive have done for our clients
Here are two images that capture your attention visually, then tickle your funny bone with the captions. Engagement is strong (or will be more so over time).
Doing a public service announcement is an effective way to add value to your relationship with your shop followers on social media. Here’s one that is very timely for Summer, a reminder that cars get very hot and both children and animals die each year. This image captures attention and drives home the point.
Vehicle recalls are coming out all the time. You can be the entity that brings these recalls to the attention of your audience. Become the trusted authority on all things automotive.
Yes, most shops have issues with insurers. But your battle isn’t your target audience’s. You can educate your audience without vilifying insurers. To fight steering, educate your audience that they have the right to choose where they get their vehicle fixed. Use graphic images that capture attention then make your point with the text.
Use video whenever possible. Video gets more views and more engagement than all other types of posting combined. Here are a couple video posts that discuss child car seat replacement and a very timely topic of saving gas. Click on the images to watch the videos. We at Optima Automotive created branded videos like this every month for our social media management clients.
Yes, promote your OEM certifications, but do it in measured fashion. Once a month is plenty. Target advertise to people who follow those makes. IMPORTANT- Use only the approved logos the OEM’s provide you and only the language you are allowed to use. Otherwise you’ll be in violation of trademark law and could put your partnerships in jeopardy.