As of 2019, 73% of small to midsized businesses invested in social media marketing. While it takes some time to build an audience and learn each social media platform’s ins and outs, the rewards are high.
Organic and paid social media marketing remain some of the most cost-effective ways to reach your customers. In the modern digital world, many people expect their local businesses to maintain a consistent online presence. Some will even check out your profile before deciding whether to try out your car wash. With 90% of consumers buying from brands they follow on social media, using your online presence to your advantage can drive sales and grow your car wash business.
It’s free to join most platforms with a business profile, so marketing your car wash through social media is just a few clicks and swipes away. To help you get started, we’ve put together this list of social media tips for businesses in the car wash industry.
1. Develop Your Social Media Strategy
In the last few decades, social media marketing has matured. There are now jobs and even agencies dedicated to running social media channels, with some even specializing in a particular platform. With so many social media marketers out there, online competition is tight. A formal strategy that addresses factors such as messaging, content types, how often to post, etc., will set you up for success. You might even create a separate plan for every channel you use.
As you develop your approach, you’ll find plenty of data online about what works and what doesn’t. That information can range from what colors get the most likes to how many words provoke the most engagement. Educate yourself on the platforms you plan to use, alongside those your target customers prefer. Then, create a basic outline for your posting strategy.
Once you’ve been posting for a few months, you’ll also notice some emerging trends. For example, you might learn videos of your washing equipment perform better than still images. Or, you might see before-and-after comparison posts of dirty and clean cars exhibiting the highest engagement. Update your strategy often to include these insights from your audience.
2. Get Creative
Instagram started as a visual platform. Since the app took off, social media posts across all channels have performed better with an image attached. At a car wash, you have plenty of opportunities to take creative, unexpected pictures that feed your audience’s desire for fresh visual content. Get shots of your equipment in action from unique angles. Break up your still photos with video. Regularly experiment with new post types, whether they’re before-and-after photos, a weekly employee spotlight or something else.
It’s also helpful to be more personable and conversational in your posts. People don’t follow social media to see stiff posts and formal tones that feel salesy and rehearsed. Frequent social media users love their favorite platforms for off-the-cuff posts from friends, celebrities and even companies. Your social media voice can afford a dash of humor or quirkiness if it fits your brand. Remember to post in good fun and avoid anything off-color, political or offensive.
Another way to get creative is to take advantage of new app features as they roll out. When a platform releases a new feature, they promote it heavily to introduce it to more users. If you’re an early adopter, you’ll get a bump in reach right off the bat. By experimenting with the new tool early, you can also get a leg up over your competitors as the feature becomes more mainstream and they scramble to adapt.
3. Create a Distinct Voice and Style
While there’s plenty of evidence for what content performs best online, the real secret is doing something different from everyone else. After all, your marketing helps you differentiate from your competitors. As you cultivate an online following, find ways to make your voice and visuals instantly recognizable.
This strategy is as much about standing out from the crowd as it is about developing consistency. When you have a unique voice and style in your photos and messaging, followers will recognize and think of your brand every time you post. To achieve this effect, craft a social media branding style guide. This document keeps you or anyone else who helps with your writing on the same page. It can be especially advantageous on a growing marketing team, since many people may have a hand in content creation.
To create a useful style guide, make sure you cover verbal and visual guidelines. On the linguistic side, you might include some consistent messaging to include in every post. You could also make a list of approved and unapproved words and phrases, alongside some adjectives that describe your brand and tone of voice.
On the visual side, you may create a set of rules for the types of images you post. Those rules could include when to add logos and graphics to your photographs, if ever, and what filters to apply. You might also require each day’s photo to look different from the day before.
For example, if you post a picture of a shiny, clean car one day, the next day’s post should focus on an employee or your wash equipment instead of a vehicle. Another policy could be to alternate between graphics and photos. On Instagram, this posting method will create an attractive checkered pattern that will impress page visitors.
4. Connect With Your Audience Using Videos
Video is a powerful tool that can build instant connections with viewers. Social media users consistently engage more with photos, and the effects are even more significant for video. One study found that videos received two times more engagement on Instagram than other content types.
One reason videos are so useful for car washes is that they allow you to show off your business in a way words and still photos can’t. A video can show your wash bay in action — how your team moves as a unit to quickly wash every car that pulls up. A walk-around shot can provide a 360-degree view of a newly washed vehicle, letting your followers inspect it from every angle.
They can also establish a personal connection with your brand, bringing you and your team to the forefront. Interviews with your team, or a short service overview video hosted by one of your employees, let your digital audience get to know your staff. Feeling a personal connection can be especially crucial in the car wash industry because many customers will only hand off their car keys to someone they trust.
5. Create Hashtags
Using hashtags in your post is a great way to expand your reach. Many of your potential customers may follow terms related to your local area, and car enthusiasts look at tags related to auto maintenance and detailing. While using relevant hashtags in your posts helps new customers find you, using hashtags you create can have a surprising effect on engagement.
Engaging, fun hashtags encourage your followers and customers to use them in their posts. After a fresh wash, a satisfied customer might share a photo of their car, tag your business and use your hashtag. When their followers see the post, a unique hashtag that incorporates your branding can intrigue them enough to check out your page.
6. Share Promotions
One of the major reasons customers follow brands online is to find out about promotions and special deals. According to a 2020 survey, 57% of consumers follow brands to learn about new products and services, and 40% want to be among the first to know about promotions and discounts.
Your social media channels are an excellent way to announce these specials to people who wouldn’t otherwise know they exist. Motivate more clients to follow you on social networks with the promise of exclusive discounts. Post some redeemable codes only available through your social media feeds that customers can cash in at your payment terminals. When clients know they can access exclusive deals from your page, they’re more likely to follow you, so they’ll never miss out on a great deal.
7. Host Competitions
Offering promotional discounts as prizes can generate a lot of buzz online. A competition encourages users to tag your account in a post, engage with your account, follow your page or do some other action you choose. With a prize like a free wash, discounted services for a month, free detailing or another similar prize, your followers will have an excellent incentive to join in on the fun.
Depending on your campaign goals, your contest could do a lot of good for your social networking channels. First, offering one of your services as a prize lets you promote that service to your entire audience. Asking users to tag your page in a picture of their car exposes your brand and social media page to each participant’s followers. If your clients must follow or like your page to enter, you’ll turn your offline customers into an online audience. Then, you can push more messaging to them between washes, intensifying their relationship with your company.
If many followers like and comment on the same post, it will dramatically boost engagement. Besides getting your followers to communicate and deepen their connections with your brand, increased activity will also give you more organic reach. Most social media platforms’ algorithms will show more people your posts when users interact with the content.
Another option that can offer even more marketing benefits is requesting both email addresses and page follows as entry requirements. This strategy lets you build your subscriber list alongside your follower count. Have participants sign up using an online lead capture form or in person from your car wash’s payment terminals.
Remember, all these contests rely on having a desirable prize up for grabs. Decide what kind of discount or freebie will sway the most followers to participate. If you have a large audience, you might consider giving away prizes to several followers to make the giveaways seem more attainable.
8. Interact With Followers
Social media is conversational. When people join an online network, they want to connect with their friends and family while sharing and reading updates about one another’s lives. In a way, brands on social media become an extension of those virtual relationships. A business that does social media well will make its public presence feel like a real person. When someone asks questions, be sure to respond quickly. As your social media presence grows and people interact with your accounts more, that’s another reason you may want to hire a dedicated employee to manage these platforms full-time.
Because your followers want social interaction, it’s essential to develop a two-way relationship. These days, many people see social media as a quick way to contact a company’s customer support team. They may send time-sensitive questions like, “Are you open on President’s Day?” Or, they could ask general questions about your business. When your customers reach out directly, it’s a chance to strengthen their relationship with your brand.
If someone comments on your post, reply. Other users will see the attention you pay to your audience and be more likely to follow. When someone direct messages you, answer them as soon as possible. On some platforms, profile visitors will see a response time estimate based on how fast you respond to direct messages. If you consistently answer within a few hours or even a few minutes, you let customers know you prioritize your relationships with them.
9. Take Advantage of Customer Testimonials
When we think of social media, we usually think of the giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, a few social networking tools outside these mainstream sites may be more powerful for small businesses. Many online platforms aggregate honest customer reviews. Positive ratings on these sites can boost your search engine rankings and let prospective customers know they can trust your car wash.
One of these tools, Google My Business, will likely be the first set of reviews web surfers see after searching for a car wash online or when researching your brand specifically. Another popular option, Yelp, also has an excellent reputation among consumers who do their research before trying a new business. A new player in the game is Nextdoor, a neighborhood-based social media platform. It’s an excellent tool for local businesses like yours. Nextdoor users can share business recommendations with their neighbors, meaning your reviews will get in front of the right viewers.
Claiming your business on each of these platforms and building your presence by gathering and managing reviews can be an immensely influential arm of your social media strategy. Customers trust independent reviews much more readily than marketing messaging that comes from your mouthpieces. Build out your review ecosystem by offering clients a discount on their next wash in exchange for an honest online review.
Once you have a “critical mass” of testimonials, your next step is to manage them. Do this by responding to your comments, especially negative criticism. This step shows future researchers you’re willing to accept feedback and make things right after an underwhelming customer experience.
10. Promote Your Message Across All Platforms
Some of your followers may only use one social media platform, while others follow you on every channel. On the one hand, you want to make sure every follower receives your messaging and updates. On the other, you want to prevent followers on several platforms from seeing repetitive posts. The secret to striking the right balance is to stick to the same general topic and messaging and add variations tailored to each network.
Remember that every channel primes its users for a different experience. Twitter’s character limits have cultivated bite-sized posts, while Instagram’s distinct square-shaped photographs call for artistic camera work. So, on Twitter, you might pare down your messaging into pithy statements. On Instagram, you might post compelling, visually exciting images that can stand with or without the caption underneath — since not all users will read them.
Explore More Car Wash Marketing Tips and Strategies From JBS Industries
JBS Industries is a car wash chemical supply manufacturer built on veteran car wash owners’ experience. For over 40 years, we’ve used our hands-on expertise to develop innovative cleaning formulas. Our industry expertise has also given us the knowledge and skills to help fellow car wash owners grow their businesses.
Besides offering marketing collateral tool kits for our Shine Time® customers, we make it our business to share our knowledge with car wash owners like you. On our blog, we dive into the details on topics ranging from customer satisfaction to general marketing. Check out our blog to explore more of our industry-specific marketing and business strategies and drive sales for your car wash business today.