Running a Shop Online Marketing Social Media Strategies

Simplifying Social Media

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Eight seconds.

That’s the length of the video on Boudreau’s Automotive Service Center’s Instagram page that earned 12,289 likes and 66 comments. The August 10, 2021, Instagram post from Jim Boudreau’s Tewksbury, Massachusetts, shop isn’t over-produced with fancy filters or effects. It’s actually very simple. The video shows a technician taking the tire off of a vehicle and revealing the ball joint with the caption, “That’s an ugly feeling when you turn your steering wheel and your tires don’t turn.”

According to the 2022 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey, 20 percent, or one-fifth, of shop owners do not have social media accounts. Additionally, 23 percent of survey respondents reported not marketing at all. But, as we see in Boudreau's example, social media clearly works. Even if you aren’t using it, your customers are, which is a valid reason for giving it another go. While shop owners may argue that they don’t have the time, if you’re not making the most of social media, you’re losing out on a way to reach your customer base. And, running social media accounts doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you may think—just look at the reach Jim Boudreau got with an eight-second video. 


BACKSTORY

Jim Boudreau started fixing vehicles in the ‘60s and built his own shop, Boudreau’s Automotive Service Center, from the ground up in 1980. The $1 million per year shop sees between 60 and 90 vehicles per week. Boudreau, who drag races in his spare time, originally got on Facebook to connect with his drag racing friends roughly six years ago. Boudreau, who laughs and says he’s a part of an older generation, was not an early adopter of social media, but he didn’t let that intimidate him. He got on social media, figured out how to create a Facebook ad, and started targeting customers within a five-mile radius of his shop. Soon after, he got his business on Instagram. 


PROBLEM

Boudreau says he’s been lucky and has figured out what type of posts work on both Instagram and Facebook. For example, videos of the shop floor frequent his Instagram page and Facebook have links to blogs about car maintenance or traveling tips. As soon as he joined social media, he saw engagement, so that’s never been a problem for him. But, it’s all about trial and error. Experiment with different types of posts to see what gets the most engagement from your particular customer base. 

The one minor issue he ran into was time. Many shop owners who don’t make the most of their social media pages, or who are not on any platforms, say a lack of time is the issue. It adds one more task to an already full list of responsibilities for a shop owner, such as Boudreau’s follow-up calls and thank-you letters. 


SOLUTION

Boudreau’s solution was simple—have someone else do it. 

Autoshop Solutions was already managing Jim Boudreau’s Automotive Service Center’s website and Google listing, so Boudreau paid the company a little extra to help manage the social media accounts. Boudreau sends in content, such as videos, and the software company helps post and create rotating ads for him. Now, he doesn’t have to worry about staying on top of Facebook ad bills, which he says were a hassle to keep up with. 

“Autoshop Solutions has done it for a year and a half; it’s easier,” Boudreau says. “They don’t charge much to do it or more than what Facebook charges.” 


AFTERMATH

When this story was reported in May, Boudreau’s Automotive had 125 followers on Facebook and 2,804 on Instagram. Boudreau says customers will often comment on his posts, so he knows he’s reaching his target audience. 


TAKEAWAY

“It’s a new way to get out there. I think you have to do it,” Boudreau says of being on social media platforms. 

For a small fee, he’s been able to gain likes and followers and draw in customers through ads by having his software company head up the task. 

“I didn’t mind paying someone if they knew how to do it right,” Boudreau says. 

And creating content is easy. Boudreau estimates it takes 45 minutes each week to gather the content and come up with some of his own organic posts. 

“It doesn’t take much to do it if you have a good camera on your phone,” Boudreau says.


Facebook versus Instagram  

A breakdown of what content you should post to which platform

Posting the same post to Instagram as you are to Facebook? This isn’t the best strategy. A 2019 article by Sprout Social breaks down the two leading social media platforms and shares tips for what to post to each. 


Facebook

  • More informative. For example, you can use this platform to post your company’s hours of operation and contact information, just as Boudreau’s Automotive Service Center does. 
  • Text is most successful on Facebook. Boudreau’s Automotive has posts reminding readers to come in for routine maintenance for their vehicles. 
  • Facebook is the platform to use if you want to make an announcement, such as a closure for a holiday since it’s more text-based. 
  • Sharing curated content. Boudreau’s Automotive recently shared the blog “How to Get Over the Fear of Driving in 6 Key Steps.” 


Instagram

  • Instagram is all about visuals, so behind-the-scenes photos and videos (such as the one described in the introduction) are the way to go on this platform. 
  • If your company hosts a vehicle give-away or a Christmas party, posting images to your Instagram feed helps potential customers engage with your company and feel more connected. 
  • According to Instagram, more than 500 million users publish and watch stories. With this large audience, adding a story, which is a way to share videos and photos that disappear after a day, is a great way to engage your customer base. 
  • Reels, which allow users to put texts, stickers, and filters onto their photos and videos, are a unique way to connect with a younger demographic. Another bonus? If your shop is selling something, you can link to products. So, if you’ve added retail to your shop, Instagram can be a great way to promote it. 


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