Many tire dealers are using social media these days to support their customer service, provide advice and community relations. They are missing an opportunity, however, if they are not using social media advertising, particularly Facebook and Instagram, to create sales.
An organic Facebook post only reaches an average of 5% of your followers, plus people you reach through hashtags. There’s a reason that Facebook, which has 250 million US users, is one of the world’s most valuable companies – you must run ads to reach a meaningful size audience. A Facebook and/or Instagram ad—I put these two together since they are owned by the same company, Meta, and work similarly—can indeed, deliver your message to thousands in your target audience. Even a smaller tire dealer with a single store can have an impact by spending only $100 or so on a Facebook/Instagram ad or boosted post. Facebook/Instagram advertising delivers in spades on two key metrics – targeted and cost-effective.
Here’s an example: Say you’re a tire dealer in Nashville, Tennessee, wanting to increase your AT and MT light truck tire sales. Build an audience by typing in a few keywords in the “interests” section – four-wheel drive, outdoors and off-roading – and, voila, you can deliver your message to 500,000 local consumers who have an interest in light truck tires.
Then decide on your ad content. Maybe you’re running a price special on a particular brand of MT tires. Or your intent is to establish your business as an expert on LT tires by promoting a blog post on the difference between AT and MT tires, or alternate between the two.
If you’re a commercial tire dealer in Nashville, you can target people who like the truck brands like Peterbilt and identify with occupations such as heavy-duty truck drivers — that’s 80,000 potential customers to whom you can deliver your ad messages.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to start advertising on Facebook. Learning all the ins and outs will take considerable effort, but you can create and run campaigns using simple self-serve tools and track their performance with easy-to-read reports.
The first step is to set up an Ads Manager account connected to your Facebook page. Click here for getting started.
After setting up Ads Manager, the first step to advertising is to choose your objective for a particular ad. Some options include:
Brand Awareness: Increase overall awareness for your business. With this, you are going for the maximum number of eyeballs in your targeted audience. Staying with the LT tire example, you target folks in your market interested in off roading and the outdoors with a message about your comprehensive offerings and expertise. If you have a salesperson with particular expertise in this area or is active in the local off-roading community, maybe focus on him or her. As my former colleague at Bridgestone/Firestone, John Gamauf, used to say “People buy from people.” So true!
Reach: This is a similar objective to brand awareness. You are going for eyeballs as opposed to click-throughs to a link, although these ads should include a click-through link, such as to your website. It is important to note that you can set a maximum spend on any type of ad. If you set a budget to spend $100 over 10 days, your ad will cease running in 10 days when you hit that dollar amount. With brand awareness/reach ads, you are paying for the maximum number of eyeballs.
Traffic: The objective here is to drive people to your link, which can be your website, a contact form on your website, a sales event page on your website, etc.
Lead Generation: This includes a contact form with your message – “We are experts in off-road tires… Can we contact you?” You can ask the person to submit their email address, phone number, etc. In our experience, the fewer the questions the better. Two keys here – You need to be prepared to follow up on the contact requests in a timely manner, whether that’s a phone call, email or both. Secondly, even if your ad is touting a specific sales special, don’t assume that the person is ready to buy tires at that moment – they may just want general information. Either way, it can be a good opportunity to engage with a future customer.
Another option is to run a Facebook Messenger ad. Our experience has been that some people find having an ad pitch in their Messenger stream is intrusive. I mention this because when you run an ad or boost a post, you often have to opt out of the Messenger option.
Define Your Audiences
You can develop a target audience based on their age, sex, location, occupation, and/or interests. You can create and store different audiences for different campaigns. I discussed the off-roading audience as an example. How about an ad for young mothers discussing tire safety, quick service, Wi-Fi availability in your store, etc.? Or an ad for gearheads promoting your wheel and UHP tire offerings?
Whether you use video, images or words—or a combination of those elements—there’s a Facebook ad format that fits your business story. We’ve found that short, to-the-point videos work very well. People these days love to learn things quickly (i.e., the explosive growth of TikTok) via video. Let’s face it – most consumers are not passionate about tires and auto service, but they are concerned about safety, getting a good deal, etc. A series of short videos on tire and auto maintenance best practices could garner lots of views. We’re not talking about hiring a video crew here. The cameras on today’s smartphones are amazing. You can make it fun and entertaining. We’ve had tremendous success with short videos set to trending music.
After your ad goes live, you can track performance and make tweaks and adjustments in your ad with Ads Manager. Key metrics include cost per click. If you are running a traffic ad sending people to a sales special page on your website, what did each click cost? A/B testing is always helpful. Did Ad A generate a better cost per click than Ad B?
An easy way to get started, once you have set up Ads Manager, is to boost a post on your page. Identify a post that you think will resonate with a particular audience, designate that audience (i.e., off-roaders), set your budget and boost.
Click on this link for more details on how to run ad campaigns on Facebook and/or Instagram.
Here are some more helpful links from Facebook: Find your customers and grow your small business, Getting Started with advertising Blueprint Courses, Business Resource Hub, Small Business advertising.
I encourage you to give Facebook/Instagram advertising a try. For a really modest amount of money, you may find it is just the ticket to growing your business.
John Taylor began his career in journalism and developed his marketing chops in the corporate and agency worlds, performing national and international work for Bridgestone, Michelin, Volvo Trucks and many other major brands. He and his wife, Christine, launched JTMarCom in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010 and specialize in digital marketing programs in the ag, tire, trucking and automotive space.