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Video tools evolve for a mobile world

Experts say dealers should tailor content for specific networks

These are screenshots of Instagram Stories from Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell that are used to draw consumer attention.
Insta-Cars
A Facebook-commissioned study looked into what drives the auto universe on Instagram. Of the U.S. participants, 400, or about a quarter, called themselves passionate about autos. Among the results
  • 52% of auto enthusiasts watch videos to evaluate vehicle performance.
  • 83% use Instagram to watch videos about cars at least once a week.
  • 53% turn to Instagram to connect with others who are passionate about cars.
  • 53% use the platform to get easy exposure to their favorite vehicles.
  • 70% of the auto enthusiasts in the study were millennial men.

Popular auto hashtagsSource: Facebook; study conducted in October with 1,662 U.S. participants

The influence of video content on shopping behavior is undeniable. That means it's critical for dealers to tailor their videos for mobile devices, the top research tool for a growing number of potential buyers.

The tools to make this happen are evolving. Dealers can now push live videos to engage customers on the fly through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Stores can also get fancy with 360-degree videos on Facebook and YouTube that have the potential to create unique looks for vehicle walkarounds.

Google's Automotive Shopper Study found that 46 percent of consumers go to dealership websites after watching video content. In addition, the Google study says 42 percent of shoppers search inventory on a dealership website as a result of watching online video.

On Facebook, 100 million hours of video are watched every day.

Some dealers are tempted to recycle their TV spots for YouTube instead of tailoring content for the network, said Alexi Venneri, CEO of marketing company Digital Air Strike.

"Dealers are really hit-or-miss in producing quality content across the board, especially mobile," Venneri said. "They may be relying on a traditional advertising agency that they use to do their broadcast and cable spots. They may be asking them to convert that and put them on YouTube. That's not going to work."

It pays to understand the quirks of the various social networks, and what type of content works best on each, Venneri said.

Concise YouTube walkarounds or vehicle service tips could work, Venneri said, but they should be enhanced with strong keywords and titles for search engine optimization.

On Twitter, meanwhile, dealers should do live streams and short, looping videos. Twitter prioritizes video content, so it will appear higher on user timelines, Digital Air Strike says.

With Facebook, the agency suggests uploading videos directly to the network, rather than posting links to videos on YouTube or other sites. Digital Air Strike said direct video uploads on Facebook draw 30 percent more views than videos posted from other sites and appear more prominently on news feeds.

Tutorials, short videos

Dominion Dealer Solutions says inventory videos are useful on YouTube, but they should last only a minute.

The videos should also appear on the vehicle detail page on a dealership's site. Dominion says this saves shoppers from having to look through 20 inventory photos when they're on the vehicle detail page.

Dominion, which sells dealership management and marketing services, says "how to" videos, which are shareable on YouTube and other social platforms, can draw eyeballs.

The tutorials can show viewers how to change a tire or connect a phone with Bluetooth. Dominion said doing this will promote stores as helpful businesses that aren't just sales-oriented.

Dominion also recommends customer testimonial videos that can build trust among buyers in competitive local markets.

Dealers can turn to the YouTube Director video editing app, available only to iPhone users, to create videos for the site.

Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell in Kentucky sometimes streams live through Instagram Stories to let viewers see the exotic inventory that comes through the lot, said Brandon Cogozzo, a product specialist. In addition, Cogozzo said the dealership has sold cars to people who've seen inventory photos on the store's Instagram account.

Vehicle walkarounds

Dealers don't need expensive production crews to create impactful content.

Sometimes, all it takes is a smartphone and a clear idea of who the dealership is going after.

Courtesy Nissan of Tampa in Florida ran a video promotion on Facebook that was directed to a Spanish-speaking audience. The video highlighted the store's used-car inventory and mentioned that the staff was bilingual.

The Asbury Automotive Group store threw $1,000 behind the video to promote it on Facebook for 11 days. The campaign ended up drawing 142 leads that led to 31 vehicles being sold, said Trace Przybylowicz, Facebook's auto lead for industry relations and strategic growth.

"Video has exploded on Facebook in the last couple years," Przybylowicz said, adding: "It's not that Facebook came to the table all of a sudden with a beautiful new video product. It was just that the landscape had shifted. Networks and mobile phones increased their capacity to serve this type of content at lightning-fast speeds."

Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo and video app, continues to deepen its stake in video content as well.

The network introduced Instagram Stories last summer that allows users to capture moments through video and photos that are presented in a slideshow format. The content, which can be dressed up with text and visual effects, disappears after 24 hours.

Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell in Kentucky uses Instagram Stories for vehicle walkarounds and to give people a behind-the-scenes look at the store's operations. The store sometimes streams live through Instagram Stories to let viewers see the exotic inventory that comes through the lot, said Brandon Cogozzo, a product specialist.

Cogozzo said the stories typically garner around 400 views. Facebook says 200 million people use Instagram Stories every day.

"It's really cool, especially when we have big events," Cogozzo said of live video within Instagram Stories. "You can walk around and show everyone exactly what's happening at that time instead of just posting a picture."

Insta-Cars
A Facebook-commissioned study looked into what drives the auto universe on Instagram. Of the U.S. participants, 400, or about a quarter, called themselves passionate about autos. Among the results
  • 52% of auto enthusiasts watch videos to evaluate vehicle performance.
  • 83% use Instagram to watch videos about cars at least once a week.
  • 53% turn to Instagram to connect with others who are passionate about cars.
  • 53% use the platform to get easy exposure to their favorite vehicles.
  • 70% of the auto enthusiasts in the study were millennial men.

Popular auto hashtagsSource: Facebook; study conducted in October with 1,662 U.S. participants
You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com -- Follow Vince on Twitter: @VinceBond86

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