Are SnapChat and WhatsApp Right for Auto Dealers?

Social media marketing may be the most important part of your dealership’s marketing strategy. More people are on social media than ever before, and the numbers continue to grow. Almost three quarters of Americans use at least one social media site, along with nearly half the population on the planet. The benefits of effective social media marketing are impossible to ignore, but with so many platforms, where should you focus your efforts? Stalwarts like Facebook and YouTube are safe bets, but newer arrivals like TikTok, SnapChat and WhatsApp also offer many opportunities for new sales leads.

Are these platforms worth your time and marketing dollars? We’ve talked recently about the tools TikTok is adding to help dealers, but let’s take a look at two popular apps in the same vein, SnapChat and WhatsApp, and explain why we think that your time and energy is better spent elsewhere.


SnapChat for Auto DealersSnapChat is a free-to-use mobile application that allows users to create short videos and messages to send to friends, family, and their followers. Released in 2011, the application found an audience by offering a new type of instant messaging: short, easily edited videos. Each video is limited to ten seconds, but multiple videos can be linked to create a SnapChat “Story.” Users can easily add filters, AR widgets, and emojis to videos to make each one unique. The app has found a home with millennials and Gen Z as a stable platform for video calls and messaging friends.

While that may seem like good news for advertisers looking to tap the millennial market, there are some drawbacks:

  1. SnapChat videos disappear after a short while. The app allows users to view a Snap, but unless they screenshot it themselves, they can only view it for twenty four hours before the app deletes it forever. From a marketing perspective, this means your ads are only viewable for a day.
  2. SnapChat’s core user base, 18 to 34 year olds, are not known for their brand loyalty. One survey found that over 60% of Gen Z are less loyal to their commonly shopped brands, compared to 33% of the boomer generation. Unless you’re marketing specifically to a young audience, SnapChat may not get you the results you want.
  3. SnapChat has no share or reshare option. The only way to move your content off the platform is to screenshot a Snap and upload to another site manually, severely limiting the reach of any posted content.

Add to this the fact that SnapChat doesn’t have anywhere near the daily use numbers of competitors like Instagram and the high cost of advertising on the platform, and you can see why we recommend against using this application for marketing.


WhatsApp for Auto DealersWhatsApp is another free-to-use messaging application that focuses on encryption, simplicity, and a no-frills approach to communication. Started in 2009 and purchased by Facebook in 2014, WhatsApp rose to popularity by allowing users to send text messages over the web rather than through their phone provider’s network. It has grown to the largest standalone messaging application in the world, with over 2 billion active users.

Though there are WhatsApp marketing strategies that can add to your bottom line, there are several reasons why we don’t recommend using it:

  1. WhatsApp was designed for consumers, not enterprises. This makes any marketing efforts difficult and clunky. For example, the max number of recipients for a message is limited by the app to 256. Though you can send more with multiple lists, the app only allows a certain number of messages to be sent per hour.
  2. Message recipients must consent to receive messages from you. This makes any marketing outside your already established sphere of influence difficult and time-consuming.
  3. WhatsApp allows limited file types for message attachments. You’re able to send images and PDFs, but you cannot send links, CTAs, gifs, stickers, audio, or contacts. This can limit the types of advertisements you’re able to send to recipients.

In short, WhatsApp just isn’t designed to be used for marketing at enterprise scale. Combined with the lack of data protection and the fact that the majority of WhatsApp users are outside the United States, this makes a compelling case against using this application for marketing your dealership.

If you’d like more information about which social media application is best for your advertising budget, consider speaking to one of our Social Media Specialists at The Automotive Advertising Agency. We can help ensure a ROI with a comprehensive strategy placing you above the competition. Call us today at 512.610.7300 or email us at

About the author

Michelle Camacho is the President of The Automotive Advertising Agency.