It doesn’t matter whether you’re a manufacturer, supplier, retailer or holiday park, big or small, in the caravan sector, social media is, or should be, an essential part of everyone’s marketing plan, but it needs to be done well, and consistently. But how do you use social media to build your audience and, ultimately, generate more business? Here’s a few tips that might help.
These days, before buying a caravan or motorhome, an accessory or choosing a campsite or holiday park, most people search on-line before going anywhere near a showroom or shop, so you need to ensure they find good content about your business or the products you sell.
Consumers have a lot of choice, so your social media content should try to differentiate you from your competitors, inform them, and help them know and like you more, rather than just be about offering the biggest discounts or shouting caravan sales messages at them all the time. People like to buy from people, not faceless businesses, so use social media as an opportunity to let them get to know you better (rather than your competitors).
You don’t have to use all the social media channels; choose which ones your ideal customers (existing caravanners, potential caravanners, local media, etc) will be using. Top tip: It’s better to use one or two channels well than try to do too many, badly.
If you’re going to use social media, you must post consistently and have the time to respond to comments and messages. Top tip: create a weekly and monthly social media content plan to ensure consistency and effective communications.
You can use snaps and video taken on your phone for casual social media posts, but it is worth investing in some professional photos and video to have as assets to repurpose on your social media channels – after all, you do want to present your business and products to look as good as possible. Top tip: an editorial style photo/video can be more popular than glossy ‘marketing’ style shots. The better the image/video, the more likely it is to attract attention, be liked and then shared.
Good content is essential, but so is engagement with your followers. The objective is to create dialogue to build relationships and show the algorithms that your content is popular. You also need to know how you’re going to respond to any negative comments or complaints. Top tip: Be ready to respond quickly and appropriately (better to take if off-line as quickly as possible).
The magical algorithms used by each channel like posts that are popular and will then show them to more people. For example, Facebook will only show your posts to a certain percentage of your followers – especially for posts on business pages (which are different to personal pages). Top tip: if you can, get as many people to like or comment on your posts as soon as its posted. The algorithms will then think its popular content and share it with more people.
It’s good (and important) to increase the number of followers on your social media channels, but quality is better than quantity. If you follow people, most of the time they will follow you back. It’s far better to be communicating with an audience that is engaged with your content. Don’t be tempted to buy followers just to make your channel look more popular.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are by far the most popular social media channels, but each one has its own advantages, uses and, hopefully, different audiences, so try not to post the same caravan images across them all – it can be tedious if someone ends up seeing the same thing repeatedly. Be creative! Hashtags (e.g. #WednesdayWisdom or #Thursdaythoughts) should be used on Twitter (selectively) and especially on Instagram to increase the likelihood of people finding your posts.
Video content is said to be more and more popular and effective, as are daily stories on Facebook and particularly Instagram. Top tip: if and when you’re brave enough, going live on Facebook or Instagram will deliver great reach compared to a regular post as the channels will notify all your followers, so they can’t miss it.
Consider the other social media channels as well: YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each of these needs very different content. Top tip:Pinterest is actually used like a search engine and I’ve heard it can generate a lot of traffic back to your website; it’s a good place to post links to your (informative) blogs, for example.
Blogs are a great form of content to create to drive traffic to your website and improve dwell time while they’re there. There’s so much you could write about (or get someone to write about). Top tip: think about what questions your customers are most likely to be thinking to themselves.
When you’re comfortable using social media, then the next step is to set up an advertising campaign. It works. It is also surprisingly affordable as you can set tight budgets from a few £/day and can be highly-targeted. Top tip: never just pay to ‘boost’ a post as you can’t specify who is going to see the post. It’s much better to create your own advertising campaign instead.
Finally, don’t forget that editorial content, via PR, from an independent third party, is powerful and effective content – and will be much more cost effective than traditional advertising.