Leveraging Social Media to Cultivate Relationships

Best Practices – May 05, 2016

​“Success in business is all about making connections.” – Richard Branson

Running a successful equipment dealership is all about the power of relationships. Put simply, your business is built on the foundations you’ve cultivated with your customers and your suppliers. With manufacturers taking to social media more than ever to highlight new products and innovations, and customers looking to their web browsers for solutions to their equipment needs, is your dealership doing the right things to continue developing relationships online?

Here are five tips to help your dealership get the most out of social media.

Know your audience
It seems that new social media platforms pop up every week. With so many content sources available it’s important to know where your audience goes to get their information. A little research will go a long way to make sure your messages get to the people you want. Is your customer base primarily located in a rural area? According to Sprout Social, 69 percent of rural community members are active on Facebook, while only 17 percent of rural residents take to the Twittersphere. Understanding social media demographics like this can help you decide where your time and effort will be best spent.

Better to be a master of one than a jack of all trades
When your dealership first opened its doors, you likely didn’t carry every piece of equipment available for every industry. Instead, you probably started out with a manageable, focused inventory and slowly added product lines as you gained comfort and momentum. The same principle applies to social media. It’s better to have a strong presence on one platform than to attempt a halfhearted juggling act with five different social media channels.

Learn to listen, and respond
While traditional marketing helps develop and strengthen brand recognition, it serves as a one-way communication tool. Even the sharpest website is limited to speaking at potential customers. Customer surveys are a classic listening tool, but they don’t provide responses to customer feedback, at least not quickly. Social media offers an avenue for instant two-way communication, so you can identify customers’ needs and respond to them immediately and publicly, showing off your dealership’s top-notch customer service.

Build your reputation with manufacturers
Manufacturers pour a lot of resources into their marketing efforts to ensure customers are aware of their latest and greatest innovations. This is great content that you can leverage to highlight new products and features to your customers. Share articles, releases, photos, videos and advertisements about new product rollouts and tag your manufacturers in your posts.

Add “youtility” to your customers’ lives
The best way to build trust is to help someone. You can spend your entire marketing budget on billboards, magazine ads and TV spots, and your message will essentially boil down to: “Buy from us!” And while these marketing tactics are important pieces of building your brand, social media can enhance the brand message. Making a short video for social media giving tips on how your customers can get the most out of their equipment puts the focus on them and shows that you’re there to help. Instead of simply saying “we have the best stuff at the lowest prices,” you’re sending the message that you are a credible equipment expert with the information your customers need to optimize their own operations.

About the Author
Austin Fallin is a public relations manager at Osborn Barr, an agriculture-focused full-service marketing agency. He connects some of agriculture’s largest companies to stakeholders through media relations, social media and communications planning. Austin, a veteran Air Force public affairs officer, grew up in San Antonio and now lives in St. Louis