Across the world, businesses of all sizes are using social media to advertise their products to consumers. With that in mind, it is critical that sales staff uses social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, responsibly and ethically.
There are federal laws requiring that ads and sales pitches online be true, honest, and in good taste. In the next four minutes, we will cover the do’s and don’ts of social media marketing for auto-finance and sales professionals.
First, here are some rules that you should follow online at all times, so you stay both compliant of federal and local laws, and so that you treat consumers ethically and fairly at all times:
Number one, remember that, while using your personal social media channels to advertise dealership promotions can be useful, staying compliant can be complicated. Whenever you’re writing online, always be professional and respectful of your audience.
Number two, use social media messages primarily to drive consumers to your dealership’s website, where full offers and additional disclosures will be available.
Third, review each message closely to ensure anyone reading the ad would not be reasonably deceived or misled. For example, make sure promotional ads in English and Spanish have precisely the same content and offers. And never stretch the truth.
Fourth, think about the ad from the perspective of a consumer. Ask yourself, “if I were a random person, would I know exactly what we were promoting, and at what specific price?”
Fifth, make sure you always are clear about any fees or extra costs; the number, amount, or timing of payments; or credit qualifications for a specific offer.
Sixth, always be sure that your ads do not create an impression that your dealership has a fiduciary responsibility to a potential buyer, if they do not.
Seventh, always disclose specific terms for special offers, when introductory offers expire, or exactly what a consumer must do to get an advertised rebate.
Eighth, never advertise a deal that doesn’t actually exist, and make sure that any limited-time offers are explicitly labeled as such.
Ninth, always honor the prices that you promote online, even if a customer doesn’t specifically mention it to you. If you post it, whether on purpose or by accident, be prepared to honor it.
Tenth, make sure that all social media promotions clearly identify that your ads are through a dealership and not a private seller.
11th, clearly identify the name of your dealership.
And finally, always to follow up on inquiries that come your way as a result of social media advertising.
We also have 12 things you DON’T ever want to do:
First, never disclose confidential dealership information, including internal finances.
Second, do not use bait and switch tactics, such as mentioning an offer that isn’t actually available, or saying an offer is available for a “limited time” without fully disclosing what that time is.
Third, never use specific trigger terms, like mentioning APR, a payment schedule, or a required down payment, without also clearly disclosing the specific terms of those offers.
Fourth, avoid using fine print or vague statements like “see dealer for details” on any ad, without making those details available online in a way that’s easy to find.
Fifth, make sure you never create an advertisement based around a manufacturer’s active recall. And if there is an active recall on a car you’re promoting, never make claims related to the car’s safety or reliability.
Sixth, always avoid using threatening, disrespectful, or vulgar language online.
Seventh, do not promote dealership activities outside of normal business hours.
Eighth, do not use copyrighted material from your manufacturer or dealership without express written permission.
Ninth, be sure that everything you post online has been approved by any legal staff at your dealership, if need be.
Tenth, never name specific customers in social media posts without express, documented permission, nor post pictures of them.
11, also do not post any photos of vehicles for sale without express permission from your dealership.
And finally, never post phony reviews on your social media channels. All endorsements of your dealership must be honest and organic.
Social media is a critical marketing tool, but you have to use it carefully and ethically. If you ever feel unsure about something you’re posting online, ask your dealership’s management for guidance or refer to our written guidelines. Thank you for your watching!