Like it or not, social media is a must-have component of a business’s presence and marketing efforts in the modern age.
In an increasingly social media-minded world, the biggest brands have realized that a two-way communication model is the most effective in humanizing, legitimizing, and enhancing their brand power. Interacting with your consumers and personifying a brand is the key to making them comfortable and willing to engage on a deeper level.
The best and most interactive way to do this is through social media platforms. Customers are people, and people are social creatures. People also drive cars. I think you get the picture!
While all social media channels can be a viable tool for strategy, visibility, humanizing your brand, and connecting with your auto dealer consumer base, some are simply more viral than others. In this case, we’re talking about TikTok, the latest infectious video social media platform that has taken the world by storm.
First, let's look at what exactly TikTok is and how it works.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is the latest in a legacy of video content creation platforms designed for quick consumption, lending itself well to the short attention span nature of customers today. For comparison, you can think of TikTok as the spiritual successor to Vine, a short video creation app that led to some serious viral creativity due to the tight six-second time constraint.
TikTok has a little more flexibility with content length, but the idea remains essentially the same: Create quick, snappy content that conveys humor (or any other emotion, really) in the hopes that it’s funny, emotionally moving, and relatable enough to become a widespread viral catch. And with a host of in-app editing tools and effects, anyone can be a star!
To summarize, TikTok is a channel that encourages short, digestible content in video format, with videos being currently the most engaging form of content in the marketplace. By utilizing short, humorous, and informative shorts, auto dealers can basically create mini commercials and even host TikToks on their website.
TikTok and Dealerships Work Well Together
With that little bit of background, you can probably start to see why using TikTok as a marketing channel could be a potentially awesome addition to your auto dealership’s marketing strategy efforts and building an audience. In fact, TikTok was the most downloaded app in Q1 of 2022 and has over a billion users overall, so the time to start download and create is now! Get ready!
3 Ways TikTok Can be Beneficial For Your Auto Dealership
Here are some tips about how you, as a dealer, can use TikTok in your marketing efforts and what the platform can do to increase audiences and entice potential buyers.
1. Viral Social Media Content Potential
First things first. If you do everything right on TikTok (post great content, optimal video length, trending sounds, and songs), the potential for getting a lot of eyes and attention on your auto dealership and drive more engagement can be high. And you can further hone your reach by setting your dealerships location on the app/in your posts so that the algorithm can reach nearby hopeful consumers on the app.
Highlighting dealer inventory, filming POV test drives, vehicle features, current running sales; all of this done in a creative and fun way can serve to become great, engaging content and generate serious local buzz for your automotive dealership. And, this doesn’t have to begin and end with vehicle sales; you can create content for your parts and service departments, which are often a dealership’s biggest profit centers/bottom line generators.
Ironically, the possible visibility from a well-made, well-placed TikTok can surpass even your most focused advertising efforts in terms of effectiveness and cost (TikTok is free!). That being said, the focus is not about getting a sale directly off of TikTok, but planting a seed to keep you top of mind for future vehicle sales/service needs, and can serve more purposes like in our next point. So, running a TikTok alongside your more traditional marketing could only serve as a bonus, not a detraction. (And did we mention that it's free?)
Audi Milwaukee already went viral by showcasing their luxury vehicles and their features and being transparent about their processes. We think that's worth it!
@audimilwaukee Everything we do to get the car ready for the new owner! #audi #audimilwaukee #fypシ #4ringflex #satisfying #NCAA ♬ original sound - Audi Milwaukee
2. Humanizing Your Car Dealership/Brand
Here at ActivEngage, we believe that people buy cars from people. So, let buyers know that your auto dealership is filled with…well, people! An unfortunate truth is that dealers and car salespeople have a low trust index. According to a fairly recent Gallup poll in 2019, “...Car sellers are among the least-trusted of all professionals, just slightly ahead of members of Congress…91% of people have zero trust in the car buying process…” (Source)
While less than ideal, you and your dealership (or dealerships) can combat these negative pre-conceived notions by showing that you’re more than just a building with cars to buy in it. You and your staff are real people with unique personalities, so showcasing that can possibly serve to melt away some “dealership dread” that your hopeful customers might be harboring and increase trust for dealers.
Newton Nissan South is a great example of a dealership that already uses TikTok to show their staff's personalities while also marketing and promoting the vehicles they sell.
@imwithnewton Replying to @una_camisa What”s your choice? #iconiccars #dealershiptiktok #gtr #silvia #nissanz #stagea #salesman #fypage #viral ♬ original sound - Newton Nissan South
3. Improve Your Customer Experience
While you will mostly be using the TikTok platform in an active way for your dealership, you can also use the platform in a way that helps you keep your fingers on the pulse of consumer behavior/sentiment. The viral nature of TikTok can be great for wide visibility and exposure for a business. However, by that same token, a customer with a negative experience can then use TikTok as a megaphone and highlight a business unfavorably.
The real reason for this point is that you can keep an eye on these types of “putting a business on blast” posts to monitor customer sentiments in the vehicle sales process and learn from them, or get ahead of them and highlight that your business doesn’t partake in those bad practices.
And, if for some reason a customer has a not-so-stellar experience in your showroom and decides to take it to the ‘Tok, you can engage, reassure, and get however many eyeballs that saw the post on your public attempt to right any perceived wrong. Getting ahead of feedback is key; especially in automotive!
People like @Nate_Riders_Garage show people what to look for when car shopping. These are good accounts to follow and like because you'll be able to understand car shoppers' most up-to-date expectations.
@nate_riders_garage I hope this helps you while you shop for your next car! 🏎💨 #usedcar #carshopping #howto ♬ Blade Runner 2049 - Synthwave Goose
ActivEngage Recommends TikTok for Car Dealership
We’re having a blast on TikTok! You can check out our page here. While we aren’t a dealership, we are partnered with thousands of dealerships as the first people-powered live chat platform, and provide modern engagement solutions that enhance the online customer experience. In addition to the deepest integrations with various automotive digital retailing tools, we also offer a varied suite of customer engagement solutions: