People started jumping off the Facebook bandwagon after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica was allowed to "harvest" user data without consent from Facebook users, compromising their personal data.
Others are gravitating away from social media overall for many reasons and concentrating more on things such as blogs, email newsletters and other forms of original content to attract customers.
But, for collision repairers, many have stayed put because Facebook is still a great way to promote their businesses. So, we recently asked Nick Schoolcraft, president at Phoenix Solutions Group, and Angel Iraola, owner of Net Business Consulting & Solutions, if body shops should still utilize Facebook and how to use it for optimum results.
ABN: Should body shops still believe in Facebook, even though it has lost momentum recently due to the data breach?
Schoolcraft: The short answer is yes, and the main reason is that today's consumer has become accustomed to living in a world of increased transparency. As unfortunate as these breaches are to our level of trust, consumers continue to interact with brands even after a breach has occurred. While trust has always been a commodity that is hard to come by, it's important to understand the way Facebook approaches businesses vs. personal profiles. A personal profile represents you as a human being, while a business page represents your business. However, to have a business page you are required to have a personal profile to manage it. What is important to note is that Facebook cares more about the personal profile data than the data on the business's page. Most shops don’t realize there is a difference between a profile and a page. This is why it's critical to seek out an organization that understands the difference between the two and partner with them when diving into the digital marketing space.
Iraola: We have changed our customers' approaches on Facebook and now are relying on other forms of social media as part of a marketing mix, but Facebook is here to stay and a necessary part of any plan we devise for body shops. Some consumers quit using Facebook initially after the breach, but many of them have returned based on our research.
They were skeptical about Facebook but later realized that it was still the best way to connect with their friends and associates and find businesses and services quickly and easily. In the meantime, we are adding Instagram and LinkedIn to our marketing plans for our body shop clients, and both are working well.
ABN: Maybe the question rather should be “Is Facebook (or any other social platform) the correct platform for your shop?”
Schoolcraft: Exactly. The focus should be placed on better understanding how social platforms can reaffirm your organization's trust with a collision repair customer. By having a full understanding of which platforms work best for you, your shop will be able to use these tools to attract new customers and deliver growth to your business. Therefore, it is vital that body shops rethink their social strategy and begin developing social media content that is rooted in customer insights [and] aligning with their needs while further accentuating the shop's customer-first mindset. Unfortunately, shops often misuse channels like Facebook by focusing solely on driving conversions (sales), rather than what the platform was initially intended for: community engagement. Consumers have begun to blur the lines between industries, meaning they expect the simplicity and convenience they encounter in one experience to apply to every experience, regardless of the difference in industries. Because of this, it’s vital that your brand has a presence on the channels that your prospective customers use. And how you approach your activity on these channels is critical.
Iraola: Some shops are perfect for Facebook, because they support it through their in-house efforts and have a lot of things to post. They perform a wide range of community-related activities and are proactive with their philanthropy and maintain a blog that is connected to Facebook, so they're posting new items all the time. We also suggest that they purchase Facebook advertising on a regular basis in order to get their name out in front of more people. Some shops think that all they need to do is establish a Facebook page and hope that people will find it on their own, but from our experience, it does not work that way.
For a very small amount of money, they can get in front of a significant amount of their current and potential customers in a highly focused and targeted way. You can specify users in a tight geographic area based on their interests, etc., so you don't have to take a shotgun approach, which leads to more engagement, and you pay only for those people rather than people who may not be in your market.
ABN: So, the days of businesses posting cute videos and funny photos on Facebook are over?
Schoolcraft: Yes. We have learned that collision facilities should not use Facebook as a tool to showcase their comedic talent or to share recipes, but rather as an outlet to provide information on how they can serve their community, as well as incorporating the differentiators a shop has over its competitors. The reason for this is because social media is an element of the collision customer’s purchase journey and should be used that way---as a validating resource, rather than expecting it to be a conversion tool. While a well thought-out and purposeful social presence can help in converting customers, it should not be considered this industry's next silver bullet. It’s simply a piece of the overall marketing puzzle. Our research is further validated, as Facebook's mission is "to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Iraola: We tell our shop clients that they should still have fun with their Facebook pages, because people still expect that from Facebook to a degree. But, yes---if you post too many funny videos or other trivial content, you might lose your relevance. Keep in mind that collision repair is not an impulse buy and that most people don't ever wake up in the morning thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts about the experience of getting into a car accident. Your image on any social media should be similar to that of an attorney, a bank or a school where transparency, honesty and full accountability are key, so always take the high road when you post anything on Facebook.