If you’ve ever thought about marketing your shop, you’ve undoubtedly considered social media. Why wouldn’t you? The whole world seems to be on it. You can share all kinds of stuff with all kinds of people.
But the world of social media moves fast. There’s almost always some hot new platform, or an algorithm tweak that means some content gets more views than others. And of course, you’ve got to use it consistently if you want to be even moderately successful at it.
We figured that there’s plenty of shop owners out there who might be curious about social and how to put it to work for them. We also figured they might not know where to start.
We tracked down Dieselmatic Managing Director Nick Adams to get his help on this. We had two major questions for him: Should a commercial repair shop focus on social media marketing, and if so, which platforms should it put to work? And how do you make social work for instead of against you?
As always, he showed us the way.
SOCIAL IS GREAT…IF YOU’RE INTO IT
Before anything else, Nick cautions, the shop owner needs to understand that social media is an ever-evolving tool. “It requires a strong level of understanding of your audience and the platforms themselves to really make it worthwhile.”
In a previous blog dedicated to social media, we were pretty much merciless when it came to telling people to get on the platforms. Not a fan of social media in general? Suck it up, Buttercup!
Nick has different advice: “If you’re not interested in it and you don’t want to produce good content that fits the platform that you’re looking at, you’re gonna waste your time. You won’t do a good job, the content won’t perform well, and there’s not gonna be any return on investment.”
So. There you have it. If you really, truly cannot picture yourself posting much of anything because you just can’t stand it, then don’t force it. It’s not going to come off well and you’ll just start grinding your teeth.
If you are an avowed hater of social media, you still have some options; you can hire a marketing agency like Dieselmatic, for example (yes, we’re plugging them!), to do a bang-up job on your social media marketing.
PICKING A PLATFORM
OK. If you’re willing to move forward on social—or at least haven’t run screaming into the night—let’s talk about the platforms.
For truck repair shops, the three biggest platforms are Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
- Instagram: Primarily a photo-sharing app, though you can also upload videos called “reels.” You can post captions and people can comment on your pictures, so there is an interactive element, but it’s definitely more of a “share” vs. “interact” platform.
- Facebook: Probably the granddaddy of the current social media crop (the actual king, of course, being Friendster). You can post pictures, videos, memes, stray thoughts, pretty much everything—people expect a variety of content types. It is also pretty easy to interact on.
- TikTok: Videos! ALL the videos! If you like shooting videos of things, TikTok is your platform. Yes, the younger generations made it popular, but everyone can use it.
Did you wince just thinking about TikTok? That’s OK.
Here’s where you get to make your first decision. As we just said, TikTok is basically all videos, all the time. You can post short videos to Facebook and Instagram, but they’re not as tied to video as TikTok is.
“TikTok’s algorithm is incredibly good at creating and curating communities,” Nick says, presumably putting on an alliterative show just to impress us. “You will be able to find a diesel technician community within TikTok and you’ll have diesel techs from all over the world creating little videos of an engine rebuild or some kind of service, or something weird on a truck that they need advice on.”
But the key to TikTok and all of these platforms is you’ve got to want to post that kind of content. Or at least not be opposed to it. If videos give you hives, maybe stick to pictures or memes on Insta and FB.
YOUR CONTENT SHOULD BUILD TRUST
So Fullbay, you may be saying, can I just post memes about moon penguins and call it a day?
While we’ll certainly be your friends if you do that, your shop’s social media shouldn’t be just moon penguin memes. If you’re really stumped for content ideas, though, just talk about your shop!
Nick advises shop owners to think about why they started a business in the first place. “Maybe you worked in a shop and you didn’t like the way it was run, or how they treated customers, and you wanted to do a better job.”
Does that sound familiar? Share it!
Shop owners caught up in the day to day of running an operation can forget to talk about those kinds of things. But that’s exactly what attracts customers. “A short video of you outside your shop, talking about your story about why you started the shop, how you provide service to customers, how you value your staff…those are all important things to talk about,” Nick says. He goes on to add: “And talk about them over and over again.”
Why? It’s fresh new content. The potential customer who lands on your Facebook page today might not have seen last week’s entry about your values. And they might not be moved to scroll down, either.
This is all part of building brand loyalty and brand recognition—and driving revenue, ultimately, by being top of mind for customers and potential customers.
Remember that the average potential customer may not need your services right now. They’re doing some research for later on. They’re probably looking at you and two or three other shops, and during their research they might meander over to social media. If one of your posts is about how much you value your customers and how you treat them…that’s exactly what the customer wants to hear. You’re building brand trust before they even make their service decision.
BUT WHEN SHOULD I POST?
So…when do you post? Every day? Every other day? Every other month, but only by the light of the full moon?
As with all other things, consistency is key.
The reality is most customers will probably at least glance at your social media during their research. And if a potential customer lands on your page in 2022 and sees that you haven’t posted since 2019, they might wonder if you’re still, you know, alive. “Whether a customer truly acknowledges or understands that that makes a difference in their decision, it ultimately does,” Nick says, because it shows a difference between Shop A and Shop B. The former shop is active online and keeps up with social media. Shop B is just silent.
The silence can steer someone elsewhere.
In short: don’t worry about when you post. Focus on posting itself. Heck, aim for every Monday with your morning coffee if that makes it easier to fit into your schedule.
INTERACTING WITH THE PUBLIC: A WORD OF CAUTION
One of the coolest things about social media is that you can, y’know, be social.
People can respond to things you post. They can ask questions. You can have full-blown conversations on some of these platforms. Your hope, of course, is to please existing customers and convert visitors into new customers. Practice the three Bs: Be polite, be friendly, be informative.
Of course, there’s another element to social media some of us wince away from—the fact that people can use it to complain to or at you.
Here is the key to dealing with any customer complaint: Address it.
You should never let a customer complaint or negative review go unanswered (aside from some kind of ongoing legal action, maybe). But when you see one—and at some point you will—keep these three things in mind:
- Be kind. If you’re angry, leave it for a little bit, blow off some steam, and come back later.
- Follow up. You can use boilerplate: “We’re so sorry you didn’t have the experience you expected! Please give us a call and ask for [whoever is doing the posting] and we’ll do what we can to make it right.”
- Don’t get combative. This is really important. No one wants to go to the shop whose owner is cursing people out on Facebook.
But Fullbay, you may be thinking, what if it’s one of THOSE customers?
You all know the kind we mean.
Nick emphasizes that you should remain polite and reasonable, but answer in a way that hopefully makes a future customer understand the complete picture. Sometimes that means providing the other half of a story. For example, a customer posts angrily about being kicked out before their turbo was repaired. You know darn well this customer cussed out your techs, so you threw him out.
In cases like this, tell your side of the story. You didn’t just kick this guy out because you didn’t feel like making the repair—he brought it on himself: “We didn’t finish repairing Mr. Kevin’s turbo because he was rude to our techs, and we don’t stand for that.”
Sometimes that may also mean owning up to a mistake. Not that you make mistakes. But if you did…honesty and making a situation right can go a long way in building trust.
BUILDING CONTENT IN 2022
At last we come to the section you’ve been dreading. What should you post?
Honestly, anything that highlights your shop’s services and values. You can also think about the following:
- Your techs, office manager, and employees
- The shop pets, if you have any
- Pictures and videos of tire and oil changes, or other jobs
- Weird things you see in the shop (including “What is this? Have you guys seen this before?”)
- Updates on the industry (new DOT regulations, for example)
- Pictures of your equipment
- Video of your coffee machine
Once you commit to posting, build it into your routine. Add it to your schedule. On Mondays and Wednesdays, for example, make a commitment to taking some kind of picture of something you’re working on, and post it with a description. That’s really all you need to do.
If you’re not too keen on your photography skills, or you want something a little more polished, Nick also offered us some top-secret advice drawn from #agencylife. Brace yourselves.
Hire a photographer.
Seriously. Find a local professional. Book them for four hours. Let them roam the shop, taking pics of tools, techs, trucks, equipment, everything. They can then share those photos with you and BAM. You have hundreds of high-quality images to share over the course of a couple years!
ONWARD AND UPWARD
Your social media can play a pretty solid role in a digital marketing plan—when used properly, it’s a powerful way to reach people (and stay in touch with them).
We know we only really scratched the surface on the whole social media thing. Hopefully it’s enough to get you started, or at least make you realize it’s a tool worth looking at. In the next few weeks and months, we’ll post specifically about each platform, giving you a high-level how-to that will get you up and interacting (and hopefully attracting customers) in no time.
Until then, think about your values and what you’d like to share with people—and if all else fails, moon penguins.