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This article was first published in the October 2018 issue of British Dealer News.

Updated research for the motorcycle trade reveals significant Instagram growth, the benefits of being an actively social business, and the continuing widespread need for social media training.

You may have noticed that I bang on about the importance of performance monitoring on a regular basis. That’s usually in the context of understanding what aspects of your social media activity are working so that you can do more of what yields results and less of what doesn’t. But there’s a bigger picture to consider as well.

Recently I published my 2018 study into the social media usage of the British motorcycle trade, which compared the current state of play with the findings of the same research from last year. The intention was to provide a series of useful benchmarks and identify trends in the way social media marketing is evolving within the industry.

A peripheral discovery of the research, and sadly not an entirely surprising one, was that just over 7% of the 363 businesses in the 2017 study no longer seem to be trading. In challenging commercial times being on the ball with marketing is more essential than ever, yet 40% of the dealers, retailers and training providers in the sample still aren’t even linking to any social channels from their websites.

17% of motorcycle businesses now have a presence on the combination of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, up from only 10% last year. Most of that growth comes from Instagram, on which 22% of dealers now have an account compared to 13% in 2017. However, there still appears to be a marked difference in the level of familiarity and confidence people have in the using the different networks. While 68% of businesses had posted on Facebook at least once during the week before the study, only 35% had on Twitter and 22% on Instagram. This is a skills gap that can easily be bridged with training.

If you’re wondering if posting frequently is worth the effort, bear in mind that the more actively social businesses have a Twitter audience 150% larger than average and a whopping 361% larger on Instagram.

In a blog post last November I highlighted why feeding Twitter from Facebook (or Instagram) is a bad idea, and this year’s research adds statistical evidence to support that argument. 18% of businesses are still using an automated Facebook feed on their Twitter account and 6% are doing the same from Instagram, but their audience on Twitter is shrinking as a result. That’s particularly noticeable with the Instagram-feeders, who have 54% fewer Twitter ‘Followers’ than the overall average. The reason for this is very simple: people are increasingly turned off by the truncated, image-less tweets generated by cross-posting. It’s an unnecessary and self-defeating tactic, and another example of where social media training can have a positive impact.

To find out how your social media audience and activity compare to those of your peers, you can review all the updated benchmarks in the full research report.

Having taken a look back, now let’s look forward again. Motorcycle Live is looming large in the diary next month and it represents an unmissable opportunity for creating engaging social media content.

If you’re going as an exhibitor, you need to be thinking about how you’ll make the most of visitor interaction on your stand while maintaining originality over the course of the whole show. On the other hand, if you’re attending as a visitor you’ll need a content plan that’s focused on the manufacturers and brands sold by your business.

In either case, you’ll certainly want to post plenty of photos and short videos to social media during the show (average daily tweet volume for the top ten most active exhibitors last year was 7.9), but make sure you produce enough material to hold in reserve for later as well. Don’t forget to include @motorcyclelive and #MotorcycleLive in all your posts.

If you anticipate needing some help to cover everything effectively, let’s talk.