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Don't Be Afraid to be Social

Relate to Customers; Boost your Sales

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Social

By Luke Schoenbeck, Mark VII VP of Marketing 

So, you’ve got your pump toppers, menus and sharp exterior and interior signage all nailed down. You’ve done all you can to market your carwash, right? Not so fast. Social media may well be an underutilized tool that can take your marketing to the next level.

Now for those of you who froze at the very mention of social media marketing, relax. You don’t need to be an expert, hire a pro or spend a lot of money to positively impact your brand awareness with social media marketing.

Here are the basics. If you have one or two locations, social media will be your friend, especially Facebook and Instagram. Both are very business-friendly, as opposed to Snapchat or TikTok, which are geared more toward individuals.

What do you post? Visuals—photos and videos—are always the best way to go. And don’t think your content has to be slick and professional. All you need is a smartphone. People are just fine with genuine, less polished videos from local sources. Just pull out your phone and record that great foam curtain or tri-foam application or your cool light show. That is great social media content. For length, 20-30 seconds is the video sweet spot.

Photos also work well on social media, especially happy customers and before-and-after shots. Encourage your employees to take photos – since they’re probably going to be on their phones at some point anyway. Of course, ask your customers for permission to use the images online.

Try to post something new, either a video or photos, at least once a day. As you get more comfortable with social marketing, there are tools available that let you schedule posts in advance so you can place content once and cover daily posting for several days. Hootsuite and Loomly are the two leading platforms that enable you to schedule and integrate all your social media activity – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. – in one place.

Once you have the basic social media activities running smoothly, you may find that you’re enjoying this aspect of your marketing. Or, you may have a staff or family member that wants to take a more active role on the social media side. If so, you can move into more advanced promotions that really engage your audience. The most powerful next step is user-generated content – customer essentially selling to other customers. People don’t want to hear from marketers, they want to hear from each other.

For example, you can run a promotion on your social media saying, “Use the hashtag #bubblespacarwashcleancar and post before-and-after photos of your car and receive a free wash.” Your customers are getting involved in your business and creating content you can share, and that’s the stuff that gets a lot of attention.

Also, don’t discount the importance of Google reviews and Yelp. Always encourage your customers to give a review, and you can incentivize those reviews with some sort of discount or free offer when the provide proof of a review. Don’t fear a bad review. Negative reviews can be turned to a positive with an appropriate and timely response. That also holds true for negative Facebook and Instagram comments. With that in mind, you will need to check your social media twice daily, morning and evening, at a minimum. You can also set alerts that let you know when your @ symbol or hashtag is mentioned.

Connecting your social media efforts to your site marketing is also important. Create an official hashtag for your carwash and feature it boldly right at the entrance to the wash. While they have that 2-6 minutes in the wash, they will be on their phones. Inspire them to do something carwash related.

Tie an incentive to hashtag use. Give them a reward when they show the attendant or cashier a post with the hashtag and a time stamp. If you’re wash is tied to a convenience store, have the hashtag on the pump topper. Collecting that reward will give them one more reason to come inside and potentially purchase food, drink and merchandise.

Finally, as you grow more comfortable with social media, putting up 1-2-minute videos on YouTube is a next step. If you have someone who is inspired and creative, Vimeo, a low-cost alternative to YouTube (which is free) does offer some editing tools.

Social media marketing is a great complement to your other marketing efforts. It’s a great way to increase awareness of your business and reach a different pool of potential customers. Start with the basics and see where it takes you. I think you’ll enjoy the journey.

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