Basic Facebook / Instagram Strategy And Tactics For Parts Manufacturers And Retailers

A lot of marketers and marketing agencies advocate aggressive marketing efforts on Facebook and Instagram (well, technically “Meta” now) and tell brands and retailers to pour resources into making cool creative, writing clever posts, and so on.

At Spork, we see it a little differently. Most companies are putting too much time into Facebook and Instagram, not spending enough on ads, and fundamentally misunderstanding what these platforms are good for when it comes to selling parts and accessories.

Strategy Point #1 – Search Is First

The vast majority of consumers do not go to Facebook or Instagram when they’re trying to solve a problem. If the check engine light comes on, for example, most people go to Google (or Bing or Duck Duck Go or whatever) to find answers. The same goes for finding a set of nice-looking wheels, a set of seat covers, and so on. Until consumers stop relying on search engines to find things or get answers to questions, social media won’t typically drive the kind of revenue that search can.

While this “search is first” strategy doesn’t mean that Facebook or Instagram can’t drive sales (they absolutely can), it’s still important to prioritize.

Strategy Point #2 – Social Media Is Usually Best For Awareness And Discovery

Something like 70% of the consumers in the United States have an account on Facebook or Instagram, and active users on those sites will spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour on social media daily. Because users can be targeted somewhat narrowly – meaning you can show ads to people who are likely to have at least some interest in what you’re selling – Facebook and Instagram can be a great place to reach people who might buy your wares.

However, most of the time that people are on Facebook or Instagram, they’re doing something else. They’re not actively shopping (like Amazon users) or trying to solve a problem (like Google users), they’re trying to look at some videos, see what friends and family are up to, kill some time between meetings, and so on. Facebook and Instagram are great for planting seeds, but poor for harvesting dollars.

Strategy Point #3 – It’s Called SOCIAL Media

If you’re at a dinner party and you meet someone who:

  • Talks only about themselves
  • Constantly tries to sell something to everyone in the room
  • Never gives anyone else a chance to talk

You’d probably never want to meet or hang out with that person again.

Now imagine that Facebook and Instagram are kind of like a dinner party – people mingle and engage in small talk, share interesting tidbits about themselves and their interests, and offer advice. Only occasionally do people form meaningful connections.

A good social media strategy acknowledges the importance of building quality connections.

Strategy Point #4 – How Do You Feel About Faith?

Because social media users aren’t likely to see your ads or content and immediately buy something (Remember, they’re often doing something else while they’re on social media.), it’s extremely difficult to track an ROI back to your Facebook and Instagram efforts. People may or may not click on ads or content they like, and they may or may not decide to take action soon after they see ads or content.

Because of the attribution challenge, most of the companies who jump into Facebook and Instagram marketing with both feet are operating on a “faith” basis: They have faith that, if they do the right things, Facebook and Instagram will pay off.

But faith isn’t for everyone. Some companies can spend money without having to prove there’s an ROI, and some companies can’t. If your company is the latter, Facebook and Instagram shouldn’t be high on your priority list.

Strategy Point #5 – Sometimes, Facebook/Instagram Can Drive Immediate Revenue

In some situations, Facebook can drive sales just as well as search. These situations aren’t common, but every company should try a couple of things to be sure:

  1. Try selling products to impulse buyers with Facebook/Instagram ads – Some of our auto parts clients sell “impulse buy” products that perform well in Facebook and Instagram advertising. If you have any products that people can fall in love with on first sight, test some ads. If you get more than a token response, you can work on building nurturing and prospecting ads as well as creating posts and content to generate sales.
  2. Try Facebook’s new Advantage+ Shopping Ads – Currently, as of October 2022, Facebook is attempting to build out a rival to Google Shopping called “Advantage+ Shopping”, and the idea is to leverage all the engagement in Facebook’s marketplace to try and drive sales like Google Shopping does. These types of ads are also worth testing.

Still, the number of our clients who successfully generate substantial revenue from Facebook and Instagram ads is low.

No More Strategy – Let’s Get Tactical!

Let’s put all the boring “strategery” behind us and focus on marketing tactics because that’s the fun part.

Tactic #1 – Retargeting Ads

Every company should retarget anyone who visits their website on Facebook and Instagram because it’s easy and it’s cheap.

  • Easy because all you have to do is install the Facebook pixel and/or (even better) configure Facebook’s conversion API
  • Cheap because Facebook and Instagram have a ton of ad inventory and costs per eyeball are low

If you use a variety of creative (including videos) and you only try to serve 1 impression per day per user, you can spend as little as $5 per 1,000 retargeted users per month. It’s dirt cheap, so why not do it?

Learn more about retargeting ads in this Spork Marketing blog post.

Tactic #2 – Don’t Try To Be “Viral”

The number of marketers who think they can create “viral” posts on Facebook or Instagram far exceeds the number of posts that actually go viral. So, instead of trying to be clever and viral, bust out the corporate credit card and run some ads.

For example, video awareness advertising often costs us less than half a penny per view. With an investment of $500, we can show an auto parts video to more than 100k people. That blows the doors off of the reach that a typical post has, and, unlike “viral” posts, it’s repeatable and scalable.

Tactic #3 – Be Social

If you want people to like and comment on your Facebook or Instagram posts, you need to:

  • Be interesting
  • Be funny
  • Be helpful
  • Engage with people who engage with you

While every company’s Facebook page or Instagram profile will have commercial messages, most of the content won’t be about sales or new products.

Facebook messages should be social
If you get too “salesy” on Facebook, your fans will ignore you or unlike you.

Tactic #4 – Be Personal

People who rave about brands usually have a personal connection to them. If you want your customers to rave about your company, give them a chance to connect personally:

  • Talk about your team – share photos and tell stories
  • Respond to comments
  • Share photos of customer vehicles, videos of customers using your products, etc.

Personal connections build customer loyalty, and loyal customers will become advocates.

Tactic #5 – Facebook Page Post “Boosts” Are Always $5

The relationship between dollars spent on Facebook page post “boosts” and eyeballs is not linear. If you spend $5 boosting a post, you’ll get more views per dollar than you will if you spend $10 on a boost. And if you spend $10 on a boost, you’ll get more views per dollar than if you spend $20 on a boost. And so on.

Basically, the more you spend boosting a post, the less value you get.

At the same time, the whole point of “boosting” a post is to give it a chance to get more eyeballs than it might have otherwise. If you boost a post and it performs well (meaning people engage with the post), it should naturally gain additional traction…which means you don’t have to spend more than $5 to get a good post rolling. And if $5 doesn’t get your post traction, $10 isn’t going to change that.

Tactic #6 – Boost Liberally

If you’re only boosting a small percentage of your posts, you’re either posting a lot of boring content or you’re being too conservative. Boost any post that’s meaningful or special – just spend $5 when you do it.

Tactic #7 – Indulge Influencers

Influencer marketing is a whole separate topic, but at a minimum level it’s about:

  • Showering influencers with praise
  • Giving free products or, if you can’t give away auto parts or related products, simple gifts
  • Treating influencers like people and not business opportunities
  • Doing what you can to form a personal connection with influencers and their fans

If/when an influencer mentions your brand or your page, thank them. Send them a gift. Post about how honored your company is to be mentioned by them. Flattery goes a long way. And if an influencer asks you to do a favor for a fan, try to accommodate that.

Learn a little more about indulging influencers in this post about hosting your own car show.

Tactic #8 – Be About More Than Business

Almost everyone supports charities that help kids or animals, veterans organizations, and raising money to fight disease. Choose one that is widely supported and show your support. Aligning with a charity or cause is not just a valuable effort, it also gives you social media content to post.

Tactic #9 – Share And Promote Website Content

Last, but not least, share and promote any content you add to your site on Facebook and Instagram. Sharing content is a good way to get more links and mentions for your website, both of which have SEO benefits (remember, search is first).

Learn more about sharing website content in this blog post from Spork Marketing.

Follow Spork Marketing on Facebook here. Follow us on Instagram here.

Summing Up

If there’s one area of marketing that most auto parts retailers and manufacturers do wrong, it’s Facebook and Instagram. A lot of companies are wasting time and money on clever posts and trying to “go viral,” and many more are treating their Facebook and Instagram profiles like a flea market. Most of the time, neither of these approaches is correct.

While there’s no one “right” way to do Facebook and Instagram, there are three pages/profiles that those in the parts and accessories business should study (none of which Spork Marketing has any affiliation with, btw):

  1. Yeti – Everything the marketing team at Yeti does is worth studying (and everything they do takes significant resources to pull off), and this is a great benchmark for companies that want to go all-out.
  2. Mishimoto – Success doesn’t require frequent posting. It doesn’t even require original content. It’s just knowing your audience and making sure you’re interesting.
  3. RockAuto.com – One of the largest auto parts retailers in the United States all but ignores Facebook. What does that say about the importance of Facebook when it comes to selling parts?

On one hand, social media marketing is hard, and attributing success to social media is even harder. Marketing dollars are finite, and a lot of companies decide that there’s not a lot of value in Facebook/Instagram…and that’s just fine!

On the other hand, social media can be a game-changer for companies struggling to launch new products or establish themselves in a tough segment. Before Yeti, it was hard for anyone to imagine spending hundreds of dollars on a cooler, for example. So what’s the right answer? It depends.

When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, most marketers aren’t asking the right questions. And if you’d like Spork to look at your social media and start asking questions, contact us.

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Auto parts in the cardbox. Automotive basket shop. Auto parts store.