Many companies have their own Facebook page to reach the largest possible target audience. Until recently, this also applied to the Van der Vleugel family business, which as a car dealer specializes in the purchase and sale of second-hand American classic cars.
In 2019, the company decided to test what would happen if the Facebook page were to be suspended for a week. Will I miss customers then? That’s how the car dealer wondered. The results of their research are more than interesting.
When the Facebook page was still online
The family business decided in 2012, in addition to the company’s already existing website, to make itself heard through social media. A Twitter account, Facebook account and a page on Instagram were chosen. In this way, the company was able to establish faster and more direct lines of communication with the intended target audience.
Soon, the specialist in used American vintage cars had hundreds and later thousands of followers. ‘New’ second-hand acquisitions were promoted by the family business on the social channels, often with interesting background information.
This media strategy led to growing trade and sales figures, concludes Dolf van der Vleugel, the founder of the family business. Sales rose by 4 percent in 2013, by 6 percent in 2014 and again by 6 percent in 2015. After that, growth slowed down somewhat, but each year there remained a few percent extra sales compared to the previous year. Facebook in particular, the company had about 3400 followers on their Facebook page in 2019, turned out to be a trigger for sales.
That year, Van der Vleugel decided to look at what the temporary suspension of the Facebook page with its customer base and/or the sales figures would do. Just one week, because as an entrepreneur you don’t want to suffer any unnecessary loss of turnover.
September 2019: the Facebook page goes offline
Without announcement, Van der Vleugel took its Facebook page offline in September 2019, from one day to the next. What happened in the days that followed still amazes the car dealer. First, the mailbox was filled with disturbing emails and comments from followers who believed the company had gone bankrupt. The company was also called by several people.
They indicated that they missed the ads and articles from the car company. A second consequence of taking the car page offline on Facebook was a measurable drop in sales by about 10 percent. Van der Vleugel: ‘This drop surprised me. I didn’t expect our Facebook page to have such a big impact on customer relationships and sales.
We promote our finest American vintage cars via Facebook, and apparently that is a trigger for our followers to purchase. Of course they do not do this via Facebook, but by calling us or visiting our company. We now notice that the custumer journey is via Facebook. ‘
Back online soon…
Because of the shock effect we noticed through customer reactions and sales figures,’ continues Van der Vleugel, ‘we decided after a week to reactivate our page on Facebook. Grateful reactions on the page itself and sales figures that started to grow again were the result. We didn’t expect Facebook to have such a direct effect on our business operations and operating results. For the time being, we won’t take our page offline any more,’ laughs Van der Vleugel.