VINCE BOND JR.

For Canadian Ford dealer, a blue ribbon from Twitter

Automotive News | August 29, 2013 - 6:30 pm EST

Zender Ford marketing manager Ryan Holtz's Twitter strategy has received the ultimate stamp of approval.

The dealership in Spruce Grove, Alberta, was the subject of a Twitter case study released Thursday highlighting how the store successfully used a promoted tweet to capitalize on Ford's "120 hour sale" for the 2013 Focus, Edge and F-150 this summer.

The promoted tweet -- a premium tweet that shows up even if someone doesn't follow that account -- led to several conversations between Holtz and potential customers on Twitter that produced three sales: two Focuses and a used vehicle. The campaign netted the dealership $57,000, a 5,500 percent return on the initial investment in the promoted post.

Zender Ford is the first car dealership Twitter has conducted a case study on, said Katie Winn, an account manager for Twitter's auto team.

The case study is featured on Twitter's business page and will also be tweeted out on the Twitter Advertising account -- @TwitterAds -- which has more than 200,000 followers.

For case studies, Winn said Twitter looks for companies "doing innovative things" while "running campaigns on the platform and seeing successful results."

"We worked with Ryan on finding out how people communicated with him on Twitter and then him taking the conversation offline and getting their phone number or information about them to set up an appointment," Winn said. "That was all done over direct message. Initially, the conversation took place back and forth on Twitter and then Ryan was able to take that offline with individual customers to get people into the actual dealership to take a look at the car."

Bridging the gap

Holtz's efforts to bridge the online gap and connect with social media followers offline were featured in Automotive News in July, and the approach was in full display during the 120-hour sale.

Zender Ford sent out a promoted tweet that was enhanced with location and interest targeting to reach the most receptive audiences.

According to the case study, Zender Ford used a so-called interest targeting tool to gain the attention of those talking about car culture, SUVs and sedans. The store also used user name targeting to get in touch with tweeters who followed local accounts such as the Edmonton Sun newspaper and the City of Edmonton.

Geo-targeting was also deployed to ensure the promoted tweet appeared on the timelines of Alberta residents, the case study says.

Holtz said a conversation with a local cupcake business owner who saw the tweet and was close to buying a Mazda3 stood out to him the most.

The woman tweeted Zender Ford and Holtz found out during their exchange that she was considering the Mazda with her husband. Holtz then asked her what she wanted in a car. She said she needed something with plenty of room in the back.

Holtz then made a casual pitch without knocking the Mazda3.

"I said, 'Have you checked out the Ford Focus hatchback? There's ton of room in there. You could fit 10 bodies. It's a small car, it's fuel efficient, it's a great car. We have great reviews on it. If you bump it up to the ST, it has some pep in it,'" Holtz recalled.

He continued, asking her if she'd like to come in for a test drive. She stopped by the store afterward and said, "I love this car."

Fast-forward a few months: She'll be delivering cupcakes for the dealership's grand opening next month.

"It goes back to the transparency and being authentic. There was no angle to that," Holtz said. "It was a sale by simply using social media and being social with it."

Vince Bond Jr. is social media coordinator for Automotive News.Vince Bond Jr. is social media coordinator for Automotive News.

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