How to Find the Best Hashtags for Your Car Dealership
If you’ve read anything about social media best practices for car dealers in the past few years, you’ve probably heard about #hashtags.
The truth is, there is still a lot of untapped potential for dealerships to reach more people in more geographic areas using hashtags on social media.
What Are Hashtags?
This question might be a bit basic for some, but I think it’s important for us all to have a shared understanding of hashtags before we dive into some best practices for using them.
Simply Put: Hashtags Are Topics
A hashtag is a word or phrase used to categorize topics on social media.
Hashtags organize your content into searchable categories, so your followers can do more research on the topic. But, perhaps more importantly for us marketing folks, hashtags help you get found by people who are interested in what you’re selling or what you’re posting about.
To create or use a hashtag, you simply put a pound sign (#) before the word or phrase, omitting spaces between the words.
For example, if you tweet about a Chevy Silverado, you might want to use the hashtags #Silverado, #TrucksForSale, or #ChevySilverado in your tweet. That way, your followers can click on each hashtag to see all the other public posts about that topic.
Conversely, when non-followers search for any of those hashtags on Twitter, your tweet will appear among the other public posts, helping you gain more exposure.
Where and When Should My Dealership Use Hashtags?
On Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter — where the hashtag was born — the pound sign (#) turns any word or string of words without spaces into a link that can be clicked. This helps you organize your content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.
If you’re tweeting about your dealership’s event, for example, you might hashtag the name of the event and location: #BlackFriday, #SiouxFalls, or even #SouthDakota.
Since hashtags help you get found by other people researching or participating in a conversation about a particular topic — let’s say #FordF150 — you should make sure that your hashtag is always related to the tweet, photo, or post.
You wouldn’t want to bring a car to a truck party, after all.
How Do I Find the Right Hashtag to Use?
Some hashtags just make sense. If you’re a Chevy dealer in Billings, for example, you’ll likely want to use the hashtags #Chevy, #Chevrolet, and #Billings quite liberally to establish your dealership’s presence in those conversations in your market.
Before you use an existing hashtag, it’s a good idea to make sure that your target audience actually uses the hashtag, too. For example, auto industry events such as #NAIAS and #NADA might be a big deal for your sales staff or management, but they’re probably not going to be of interest to the average car shopper.
I’m not saying you should avoid those hashtags; they might establish you as the authority on those topics in your market. I’m simply saying that you should use them with caution.
How to Connect with Customers Using Hashtags
That brings me to my next point: If you want people to relate to your dealership, you need to first get your tweets, Facebook posts, or Instagram pics in front of them by using relevant hashtags.
So, how do you find those local, high-frequency hashtags?
Here are a few quick ways to conduct your own hashtag research:
- Take a look at your current set of followers, and keep a close eye on the hashtags they use.
- Does your dealership sponsor a local sports team? Visit that team’s social media accounts to find the hashtags they’re already using.
- This will help you associate your dealership’s brand with the brand of the team (which, after all, is the primary reason your dealership sponsors them).
- Keep up with local or regional events in your market, including concerts, games, festivals, or even sports tournaments that bring people into your dealership’s backyard.
- Since many people use social media from the comfort of their own couches, meet them there. If your dealership shows TV commercials on a certain network (let’s say Fox) during a certain football game in your market (let’s say Vikings vs. Packers), it makes perfect sense for your dealership to tweet about the game with a relevant hashtag (likely candidates: #MINvsGB, #SkolVikings, #GoPackGo, #VikingsVsPackers, #Vikings, #Packers, or anything that you see trending.)
- The same goes for popular TV shows such as #Survivor, #AmazingRace, #NCIS, #Idol, #ParksAndRec, etc. (If you’re interested in lending your dealership’s voice to a TV-oriented conversation, this list is really useful.)
The Best Hashtag Tools for Auto Dealers
Even after conducting your own research on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr, you might still be at a loss for knowing useful hashtags to use.
That’s where hashtag tools like these come in handy:
- Hashtags.org uses Twitter’s open-source data to show you any hashtags that your account might be interested in using. When you search for a hashtag, the site will show you the definition, related terms, statistics, and related hashtags.
- As the name implies, Trendsmap.com shows which hashtags are trending in your geographic area. This approach is great for finding those interesting local conversations to help your dealership retain valuable top-of-mind awareness.
- Hashtagify.me helps you find hashtags around a particular topic, the top influencers for a given topic, and usage trends. A paid account will also unlock a feature showing in-depth information related to a given hashtag.
3 Types of Automotive Hashtags to Use
Even with these “hashtag discovery” tools, it can still be hard to know exactly which hashtags will give you the best bang for your buck.
That’s why I suggest any combination of three key types of hashtags to include on any product-promoting tweet or post.
It’s one thing to use #Toyota or #Camry in your content, but how will you make sure that people in your backyard see it?
This is why you should always include your city, state, or regional name in your hashtags.
Using a topical product hashtag will help people find your vehicle in-line with other vehicles of the same type.
For example, if you’re selling a Chevrolet Malibu, try using #ChevysForSale, #CarsForSale, or even #MalibusForSale in your tweet or post to show up in the relevant hashtag search.
This one may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. People search a massive variety of topics on Twitter and Instagram every day, and it’s important for you to become part of those relevant conversations.
Similar to the #___sForSale hashtag, it’s generally a good practice to simply hashtag the product: #F150 or #Silverado, for example. When you combine this with #Location, you’re essentially marking your X on the map for that particular vehicle.
So if someone from a nearby state happens to stumble upon your #F150 hashtag, they’ll also know that your F-150 is located in #DesMoines (or wherever you happen to be).
Looking for More Auto Marketing Help?
With a little research, local awareness and product placement, you can get some real return on investment (ROI) from your existing social media accounts by leveraging the power of the hashtag.
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