The hottest thing in social media marketing right now is influencer marketing. Businesses continually leverage celebrities to gain exposure and attention. Think about all the dealerships that hire famous athletes, or a YouTube celebrity, to help draw a crowd to their dealership. Sure, it works. That’s why businesses do it. But do they always attract the right type of consumers who will actually accomplish their goals and get a good return for this investment?
Regardless of if you spend $1,000 or $10,000 for the “influencer” you want to use to bring in traffic, the goal has to be a return on investment -- just like any other marketing expense. While these individuals have a ton of social media followers, are these followers the right demographic? Could they conduct future business with you? Or are they merely vying to interact with the influencer?
In an article published on JSTOR, Dr. Alexander Samuel states that there is no difference between a famous "influencer" and the typical person. All of us want attention. Celebrities and well-known social media personalities simply get it easier and more often. And they get paid for that attention. But what about a regular person? They also want attention. It’s just harder for them to get it. That’s where the saying, “Keeping up with the Jones’” originated from.
Who is the real influencer in your demographic? In the end, what really matters is how much business does your dealership get from that investment.
Influencer marketing is definitely a legitimate marketing strategy. Dealerships just need to know who the influencers are that will drive business. If a company sells cosmetics, it is highly probable that hiring an Instagram model would drive more sales. However, in the automotive industry, it may work better to think about who (and how) you can leverage influencers to do the same.
In my opinion, the most effective influencers for a dealership are your customers. Why? Because everyone wants attention. Have you ever been mentioned on Twitter or Facebook by a company? It's kind of a great feeling and injects some happiness. Sure, that Instagram model has lots of followers. But customers sharing your content on social media channels are more likely to reach a demographic what will spend money at your dealership. The Instagram model may be able to attract a huge crowd but will likely cost more and produce less ROI.
Consistently share your customer’s stories on social media and encourage those customers to share that content. In fact, you don’t even really need to encourage them to do it, just ask them if you can and tell them when you have. The motivation to share it will be intuitive and something that they do on their own. Who doesn't like to share a picture or video of their shiny new car!
And that is the best outcome for any dealership in terms of ROI. It costs nothing but produces more than any Instagram model could ever achieve.