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Kelly Kleinman

Kelly Kleinman Digital Content Director

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Twitter vs Instagram; Which Social Media Platform is Better for Dealerships











Some of you are wondering why I left out Facebook.  So am I. Realistically though, up until its recent debacle, Facebook has easily been the best social media in which to sell products, and still is at certain price ranges. The issue with Facebook  is CPA when it comes to higher priced items with smaller profit margins. If your COGs are under $5 with a selling price of $79, and laden with up-sells, you just may sell a bunch of units. Not so with cars.  Nevertheless, FB owns Instagram so let’s just overview the two lesser platforms and see how they fit into the mix.


Until 2015, Twitter had been adding approximately 12-15 million accounts per year at a 6% growth in ad revenue (over a half billion each year). It’s growth has reached stasis and has slowed considerably to 3 million per year. 54% of its users are between 18-49 years old, which matches the age demographic of those most-likely to buy a used vehicle.  Currently, there are 300 million Twitter users BUT, 79% of Twitter users are outside of the US.  There are 67 million Twitter users in the USA.

My rub on Twitter is that although it started out mostly as a way to express a quick opinion, thought, or Influencer endorsement, it wasn’t visual enough to be engaging.  With the addition of a picture or video to a tweet, engagement increases 150%. The biggest hold back to Twitter was the 140 character limit which is now at 280. It allows you to hashtag more effectively and get more exposure syndication faster (to grow your following) which has long been Instagram's magic bullet. The 280 character limit still limits the platform and because of that, I consider it a supplementary social media platform.  It’s # 3 on my social media list as it is likely yours.

Twitter, the Modern Day Teletype

Do you have a flash sale?  Did the new Camaros come in?  Did you just have a dealership anniversary, or have an exciting new promotion to announce?  If so, Tweet it out! Those event oriented announcements work well on Twitter. Brands, individuals, and media do well on Twitter when they have breaking news to report.  Twitter is more like a modern day teletype that everyone has discriminatory access to. You don’t have to listen to the vapidness of a Kardashian tweet if you don’t want to, but if you’re a car “guy”, you can enjoy exclusive tweets from because you have chosen to follow them!  Good Twitter engagement rates vary from .09 to .33%. In plain English, that’s 3-10 engagements per 1,000 followers on Twitter. When I get 5+ likes and a few retweets, I feel pretty good about Twitter and its low bar of engagement.

Instagram Leads All Social Media in Engagement

Instagram is by far the best platform for engagement. Its frequented mostly by 18-29 year olds who make up the largest demographic, followed by Generation X that consists of 34-54 year olds.  It’s noteworthy that most first-time car buyers are actually Gen Xers, not Millennials. 800 million worldwide users attest to it’s addictive gravity. An engagement rate between 3.48% and 6.67% is considered to be high, where an Influencer would expect 34.8 - 66.7 reactions for every 1000 followers on Instagram. Additionally, an engagement rate between 6.67% and 100% is considered to be very high, with expected reactions to be between 66.7 - 100 for every 1000 Instagram followers.  

With the addition of Instagram stories in 2016, another 100 million folks added an account.  Instagram saw 28% growth in 2017 which basically mirrored the loss of 2.8 million under 25 yr. old Facebook users who dumped the platform because their parents “ruined it”.  Instagram is a highly visual medium which makes it perfect for car dealers. Most dealers use it to post pictures of happy car buyers and inventory. In fact, 91% of all Instagram posts have a photo attached.  The speed in which an Instagram post gets a reaction (engagement) is quicker than with Twitter or Facebook, and as mentioned, has a higher engagement rate than either. Here’s why.

You Like My Post, I’ll Like Your Post

Everyone is so darn insecure.  The unspoken rule of Instagram is that if I follow you, you should feel inclined to follow me and like my posts. It becomes a popularity contest with each post as users frequently check back to see how many likes or comments each of their posts generates.  If a dealership has garnered a bunch of followers, they’re hoping that they’ll get more than 10 likes per “car buyer pic post”. A decent engagement gives the dealer the perception that they’re doing something right and reduces a buyers potential cognitive dissonance.  Of course, if the purpose of the post is to congratulate the salesman for being a “sales machine”, it can have the opposite effect.

What I Do

I use Twitter and Instagram to grow my brand visibility.  I have 122,000 legit back-links in just 7 months of incarnation so I know a thing or two about this subject (and others), although I have far more to learn. In fact, if you’re reading this article, feel free to contact me and let’s see how we can collaborate! But I digress, Twitter is the more limited platform to be sure, but I suggest every serious dealer have a regular presence on it for the aforementioned reasons.  Instagram is more fun, more visual, more engaging and easier to grow. It has few limits other than length of videos.

Are either social platforms going to sell cars?  Incrementally speaking, “eh”. Neither Twitter nor Instagram are going to blow inventory out by themselves. Creating a post a day for either platform is just fine as long as they aren’t all ads.  Make the posts compelling or humorous or both. If advertising an event, double down on creativity and cover all the angles. When all is said and done, it’s the preponderance of visibility and good reviews that’s going to increase any dealerships sales.  Should you have a Twitter or Instagram? I hope this article helped as you sit there scratching your head.




Patrick Bergemann

Kelly, you know that as a whole, I agree with most things you say...however, I'd be remiss if I didn't argue a bit on this point.

I think comparing Twitter to Instagram is like comparing apples to applesauce. The userbase is completely different. The older crowd barely touches Instagram and the younger crowd isn't engaging with brands on Twitter as much as influencers.

I think Twitter is more a B2B thing in the automotive world and Instagram would be your B2C platform, thus more pertinent to dealerships. However, if I was a dealership with Twitter, I'd suggest using it to leverage with local organizations to build your community network. Our biggest dealers became that way by being a community name.

Kelly Kleinman

I eat apples and applesauce so there.  BTW, apples become apple sauce after a few chews.  Are Influencers brands?  I say they definitely are. Athletes take to Twitter daily and they are definitely brands unto themselves.  When LeBron has new shoes coming out...he tweets. But seriously, the point of the article is to distinguish how to use each platform and why.

Patrick Bergemann

And you covered the why very well. I've often found myself in conversations of people (dealers and other industries alike) saying they struggle to find the time to put all this content out there, so to answer the headline of "which is better" or (as I interpreted it) "where should I spend my time", I vote Instagram works better in the dealership world.

Kelly Kleinman


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