Auto Parts Marketing On Facebook And Instagram – A 10,000-Foot View
Facebook and Instagram are important marketing tools for the part and accessory industry. It’s where
- many enthusiasts discover new products and new brands
- a lot of enthusiasts learn about vehicle upgrades
- consumers form opinions about quality and value
In this blog post, we’re going to look at the marketing tactics and techniques that many aftermarket automotive brands and retailers can use to promote themselves on Facebook and Instagram, but we’re going to do it from a “big picture” perspective. This post is for auto part brand managers, owners, and CEOs.
1. There Are No Free Lunches
Once upon a time, it was possible to get good results from Facebook and Instagram without spending a dollar on ads or boosting posts. While that was arguably never true (the time spent promoting a business Facebook and Instagram has value), these platforms are 100% “pay to play” today (as of October 2022). The days of posting a cool image or meme to Facebook and getting tens of thousands of “free” views are long gone.
Facebook and Instagram (you know, Meta) are in business to make money, and unofficially ending their free program is a great way to boost revenue. But also:
- Facebook/Instagram needs a way to filter the number of commercial items in a user’s feed to keep things manageable. Asking businesses to pay for views is a good way to do that.
- Generally speaking, businesses that can afford to pay for promotion on Facebook/Instagram are more likely to be good quality.
But the long and short of it is that marketing your company on Facebook and Instagram is going to require a budget of both dollars and time.
2. Facebook/Instagram Doesn’t Work Like It Used To
There was a period of time between 2014 (or so) and 2020 (or so) when Facebook and Instagram were extremely popular, their ad targeting was extremely good, the creative requirements were really basic (you just needed good imagery), and the competition for ad inventory was relatively light. In this magical time period, many businesses came to depend heavily on Facebook/Instagram for growth. Then, several things happened:
- COVID drove up ad inventory pricing and sucked up a lot of the “free” impressions many companies were counting on
- The increased competition put additional pressure on advertisers to produce higher quality creative (thus raising costs to advertise)
- Apple and Mozilla rolled out systems that effectively crippled Facebook/Instagram’s ability to track and target a large percentage of consumers with disposable income
- At the same time that Apple and Mozilla got serious about blocking Facebook/Instagram tracking systems, Facebook/Instagram also removed some of their more effective advertising tools
- Facebook/Instagram started to lose users and engagement to TikTok, began changing their systems to try and “be more like TikTok,” and have changed the effectiveness of some ad types
Facebook/Instagram is still a place worth marketing your business, but the return on ad spend (ROAS) will likely never be as good as it once was. Pour out a little brew for the old ROAS performance you remember, and then move on.
3. Facebook/Instagram Is Different For Manufacturers
If you’re an auto parts manufacturer, one of the smartest things you can do on Facebook/Instagram is to facilitate product discovery. (Learn more about that here.) “Product discovery” is a fancy way of saying, “make sure people know about your products and what’s good about them.”
You can facilitate product discovery in several ways:
- You can run ads, which requires some know-how and some decent imagery/video but is predictable and generally has an acceptable return on ad spend
- You can post good quality content to your page and ask your fans/followers to help spread the word (it works for some brands)
- You can find influencers to promote your product and then work out a way to compensate them
All of these product discovery methods have pros ad cons, but most brands use at least one of them.
4. Facebook/Instagram Is Different For Retailers Too
If you’re a retailer, product discovery is not something you want to invest in. As a retailer your margins are low, and unless you have some sort of exclusive relationship with the manufacturer, there’s no money in your budget to try and create the market for someone else’s new product or brand.
As a retailer, you want to use Facebook and Instagram in the following ways:
- Retargeting – Most of the people that visit your site can be tracked and matched to a Facebook or Instagram profile, and then you can advertise to those matched visitors. These ads can then be used to get people to come back and buy.
- Repeat/Loyalty Messaging – Most retailers post something to their page about upcoming sales or new products or brands they carry, because these types of posts can get customers back. But you can also post about your staff, events your company attends, and any recognition your company has earned. These are all messages that facilitate customer loyalty.
- Influencers – Finding influencers to promote your company is difficult, as many expect either a large fee or a big slice of sales as payment. Still, it’s possible to find the right opportunity with diligence.
5. Facebook/Instagram May Be Dying
Last, but not least, we come to a statement that is likely to look either prescient or foolish in a few years: Facebook/Instagram may very well be dying.
Granted, there aren’t a lot of examples of social media companies collapsing (MySpace, Friendster, and Google Plus all come to mind), but all of the collapses have one thing in common: Very few people outside of these companies saw the collapse coming.
This is not to say that we see something everything else doesn’t. In fact, we’d argue that there’s already evidence Facebook/Instagram is starting to fail:
- The company reported losing users for the first time in its history in Feb 2022
- Reported revenue fell for the first time ever in the 2nd quarter of 2022
- It’s been reported in Sept of 2022 that Facebook/Instagram is freezing all hiring and perhaps even engaging in quiet layoffs
It could be that 2022 is just a bad year for Meta and that there will be smooth sailing ahead. Or not. Either way, any marketing strategy should acknowledge that big investments in Facebook/Instagram must be met with some skepticism. Now isn’t necessarily the best time to go “all-in” on drumming up Facebook page fans or Instagram followers.
NOTE: As a hedge against the collapse of Facebook/Instagram, get to know TikTok…only install it on your device at your own risk.
Facebook/Instagram marketing is important – it’s a great tactic for reaching previous customers and boosting awareness. But it’s not free, it’s not as easy as it used to be, and it may be withering away right before our eyes.
Still, in the here and now, Facebook/Instagram is a behemoth. Hundreds of millions of people around the world spend 20+ minutes a day on Facebook and/or Instagram. Even if it collapses, it will likely take years for that to play out.
It’s safe to say that no marketing strategy is complete without a plan for Facebook/Instagram. Hopefully, our notes will help your team build a good plan for the future. But if you have questions – or would like to get some expert advice on your company’s specific plans – reach out.
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