TikTok for Auto Dealers: Is it Worth the Time and Money?

TikTok for Auto Dealers: Is it Worth the Time and Money?

Whether you’ve heard about it in the news or you use it personally, you’re probably aware of TikTok as a cultural phenomenon. The video-sharing platform has blown up, in part because of the excess amount of time we all had during the pandemic. But does this popularity mean you should sprinkle TikTok into your dealership’s marketing mix? 

In short, probably not. 

But that doesn’t mean it won’t work for some dealerships. 75% of TikTok’s American users are over the age of 19. That’s a lot of could-be drivers who are reachable on TikTok, but this platform requires different creative content than other platforms your store might be using. 

TikTok 101

Although it’s a new(er) kid on the block, TikTok ranks among the top social media platforms in the world.

In September 2021, TikTok announced that it had 1 billion global monthly active users,(a) placing it 6th in our ranking of the world’s most ‘active’ social media platforms. (Source)

bar graph showing the world's most used social platforms

At its core, TikTok is a video-sharing app. Users upload up to 3-minute-long videos doing things like baking recipes, reacting to memes, dancing or clips showing their animals, plants, AirBnbs – the list goes on and on.

Other users can react to videos and comment on the content. It’s very similar in execution to Instagram’s Reels feature, which was released in late 2019.

Is TikTok Right for Your Dealership?

Even though TikTok gets dismissed as a purely Gen Z platform, that’s not entirely true. 

Sure, there are plenty of Gen Z videos calling out Millennials and making jokes that I, a 30-some-year-old, just don’t understand. But there are plenty of Zennials, Millennials, Gen-Xers and Boomers playing around with the platform, too. Like I said before, only 25% of users are under 19

Updated TikTok global advertising audience.

This means there are plenty of drivers and will-be drivers on the platform. But unlike Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube, the content needed for advertising on TikTok is different. A 30-second TV spot can be repurposed for YouTube and Facebook pretty easily, but the audience on TikTok expects a more genuine approach. 

The sales promotions your dealership is used to running won’t be as successful as an informal, ‘behind the scenes’ video on TikTok. 

Whether paid or organic, the ideal content for a car dealer on TikTok is an unpolished walkaround or videos showing new SUVs coming off the truck. Consistency is key, so if your store isn’t prepared to produce content throughout the week, it’ll be hard to gain the high engagement rates that would justify the time investment

We have seen instances of more polished TikTok marketing from the auto space, but this type of highly-produced content should be coming from the OEM, not your dealership. Tier 1 marketing aims to drive home a message about why buy this brand; your Tier 3 store marketing needs to show the character and personality of your store that makes it a better place to shop than your competition down the street. 

Is Your Marketing Foundation Strong?

New platforms shouldn’t necessarily be excluded from your marketing plan, but we consider apps like TikTok to be the sprinkles on top of the cone

Let’s say your website is the waffle cone – it’s definitely not the most exciting thing on its own, but it’s holding all the good stuff together. When you’ve got a solid foundation, you can start adding fun stuff like ice cream and online ads

If your store has a really beautiful ice cream cone of marketing going on, then by all means, start adding the sprinkles! But if you’re not effectively doing email marketing, Facebook ads or search engine optimization, then it’s a better use of your time to focus on that

No one wants to eat just sprinkles. 

Are You Ready for Sprinkles?

At 9 Clouds, we’re realistic with our clients about the best use of their marketing budget, and every client has a custom package that best suits their needs. We focus on researching tools that will increase revenue for our clients, and we’re never going to push a channel that doesn’t make sense because it’s trendy. 

We’re also passionate about showing dealers the opportunities that will provide their stores the most value – even if they never work with us. 

Reach out for a custom marketing assessment, and we’ll show you the cracks in your foundation or the fun sprinkles you can add to your existing plans.

Looking for more tips on how to navigate TikTok? Download our FREE resource with our best suggestions for dealership success on TikTok.

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