How a $500 Honda Sold for $20k on Social Media

January 2, 2024
By Michael Padway
Max Lanman Honda Commercial

Generally speaking, used cars are a value-losing proposition. Unless you own a rare classic or a McLaren F1, your 20-year old Camry with the dented fender and six-figure odometer is unlikely to sell for five figures large, or even half that.

And yet that’s exactly what Max Lanman from LA did, with an even older Honda. In this case, the car was a 1996 Honda Accord coupe with over 400k miles on the clock. From an original MSRP of $21,000, he managed to sell it for an astounding $20,000 in today’s dollars… not bad for a car that dates all the way back to the Clinton administration.

So how did a used Honda with a max KBB value of $1,500 sell for 13x the price? Simple: the guy tapped the power of social media.

A Joke Ad Gone Wrong

Max Lanman’s fiancee wanted to dispose of her 24-year old car. Fortunately for his fiancee, Max has a great sense of humor, as well as professional filmmaking skills. In fact, he’s the founder of an LA-based creative agency that makes ads for heavy hitters like Microsoft and Haagen Daaz.

So instead of taking to Craiglist as normal people would, Max decided to create a high-end commercial for a car that could have been eligible for Cash for Clunkers. He pulled together a crew of friends, a professional Sony camera, a drone, and some 200 hours of his own time… all for what he considered to be a joke. The end result was a stunning yet tongue-in-cheek commercial fit to air in a Superbowl.

There are so many things to love here, from the DIY mirror in the trunk to the authentic-looking fine print at the end. All of it interspersed with a professional voice-over, soaring cinematic music, and gorgeous shots of the California coastline. 

The Internet agreed, and what was meant to be a joke turned into a viral Youtube hit with over 7 million views. While Max’s girlfriend was puttering along the coast, listening to Macarena on cassette, the ancient Honda was getting more views than a rapper’s tricked out Rolls Royce.

All that media mileage translated to real-world bucks: in the end, the modest Honda Accord caught the attention of Carmax, who snapped it up for 20 grand.

There are three things we can learn from this story:

One: the adage “No lowballers, I know what I got” can actually be true.

Two: when you’re trying to dispose of a car, it helps to have a writer, director, or agency head for a fiance.

And three: never underestimate the power of social media.

Since the first two are highly unlikely to happen, let’s focus on the third one.

Social Selling is the In Thing

If you were to sell your motorcycle today, the first words that would probably come to mind are “dealer”, “eBay”, or “Craigslist”, the 3 Holy Grails of riders wishing to dispose of their steed. 

If this is the case, you may want to broaden your horizons more and include Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit in the mix. This is because social media is rapidly becoming a hotspot for online selling, even for big-ticket items like motorcycles.

Here’s why:

  • Social networking sites have one thing that dedicated selling or auction websites lack a community of like-minded enthusiasts.
  • When it comes to selling, there are actually two potential markets in social media. The first is the site’s official selling section, such as Facebook Marketplace, which is available to a wider, more general audience. 
  • The second is enthusiast subgroups, such as Facebook groups or Subreddits, which are frequented by common-interest people. While such groups are typically private or closed off to the general population, their group members are far more likely to be interested in your bike.
  • Buyers and sellers on social networks are identifiable by their social media profiles. This allows more transparency to be shared, and trust to be built between parties in the transaction.

In fact, Facebook Marketplace has overtaken Craigslist in terms of active users, boasting over 800 million monthly users over CL’s 55 million. And that’s not even counting the thousands of Facebook groups and group chats created by users based on location and interest. 

And with more people stuck at home due to the pandemic, that number is only set to rise.

6 Practical Tips To Sell your Bike on Social Media

Broaden your reach

Posting on the marketplace is one thing, but Facebook groups hold a niche audience that may be far more interested in your bike than the average shopper. By joining such groups, you can tap a wider audience, as well as find a supportive community of like-minded enthusiasts. 

Search for groups based on:

  • Your geographic location
  • Rider enthusiast communities
  • Your bike type (ex. Harley owners, cafe racers)

The good news is that Facebook allows Marketplace ads to be cross-posted to different groups, so you won’t have to repost them for each group that you join. Just make sure you follow the group’s rules and selling guidelines before posting.

Suggest using a screenshot of a sample with Facebook’s “Post to more groups” option that shows various motorcycle groups. This is better done by someone from MLF since they likely belong to bike-focused FB groups

Improve your ad description

Make your post as thorough as possible. This provides potential buyers much of the information they need to make an informed decision. As the seller, it will also save you a lot of time from answering questions and streamline the purchase process. A detailed post helps weed out people who are not serious about buying. 

Some of the critical details to include are:

  • Make and model
  • Asking price (and whether it’s fixed or negotiable)
  • Purchase date and ownership history, as well as the title status
  • VIN and odometer reading
  • Modifications and accessories
  • Maintenance and service history
  • Any flaws or damages

Be sure to fill out those tag fields too with your bike’s brand, model, and type. This helps the website index your ad so that it appears to buyers searching for those specific tags.

Photos speak louder

Pictures are the only way your buyer can see the merchandise, and in many cases, the quality of the image can make or break a deal. 

Before taking pics of your bike, make sure it looks its best. Unless you want your ride to end up on CL Horror Stories, dust off the old horse. Give it a good wash, buff those fairings, and get a good location to pose your ride. 

Next, put a little effort into your photoshoot. Make sure the lighting and background are good and shoot the bike from different angles. A bike that’s polished, lovingly shot, and has tons of well-lit photos speaks volumes about the owner’s level of care for his steed.

A close up of a rusty motorcycle, sitting in a field behind some houses.
This guy got the angle and lighting right, but everything else could use a little work.

Social media sites suggest uploading at least 3 photos. I would generally recommend more — as many as it takes to truly showcase all of what your motorcycle has to offer.

Include a video

A short walk around video acts as the virtual bike tour. Capture all the little details while you explain the bike’s mods, quirks, and features. 

You don’t need to spend 200 hours like Max on your cinematic masterpiece. However, it pays to figure out what you want to say beforehand, so you don’t stutter or ramble on in the clip. A short, concise narration makes you sound more authoritative as a seller, and as an owner that knows his bike.. 

Spruce up your profile

An often-overlooked fact is that buyers are just as likely to check out your profile as your wares. If your profile photo is Garfield the cat or your Facebook wall or Reddit history is suspiciously bare, it can raise red flags and scare them away.

  • Put up a decent profile photo and cover image so they can put a face behind the ad.
  • Fill out some of the bio details so they know you’re not a bot or scammer. If you’re protective of your personal details, you can customize the privacy settings for each detail and show it to “Friends of friends”.
  • Share photos of the bike on your timeline so they can see its history of ownership under you. You can choose to make past photos public, create a dedicated photo album for the bike, or include it among Featured Photos on top of your profile so they can see how much the bike means to you.

Be reachable

All that effort will go to waste if interested buyers can’t contact you. While shoppers on Facebook Marketplace can always send you a message, the same isn’t necessarily true for posts you make on Facebook groups. Even if the buyer is able to send you a private message, it can go into the junk folder and never see the light of day.

  • Tweak your privacy settings to allow strangers to message you. You can choose “Friends of friends” or “Public”.
  • Fix your notifications so you get an alert whenever someone comments or sends a message about the ad.
  • Always check your Message Requests or Filtered Messages (i.e. spam) folder for wayward inquiries.
  • If someone likes or comments on your ad, click their profile and tap the Send Message button. This will allow you to quickly check in case they already send you a PM that you weren’t able to read.
  • If your post gets shared by other people, check those shared posts for comments by potential buyers. Questions and inquiries can sometimes be made in those secondary shares, without the seller being aware of them.

When it’s time to sell your ride, social media is one of the online avenues you can harness to make the sale. The best thing about most social networking sites is that posting is free, there are no sales commissions, and you alone are responsible for the performance of your ad. For traditional channels and methods for selling motorcycles, you can check out our comprehensive guide on how to sell your motorcycle.

 In the age of coronavirus, digital garage sales are the new norm, and it pays to know how to sell stuff on social media… literally. 

 So good luck, and happy selling!

About the Author

Spencer Padway is the CEO and co-founder of Search Nurture, a full-stack digital marketing agency that specializes in driving growth for B2B SaaS companies and eCommerce expansion for brands that manufacture goods. With over a decade in the marketing industry, Spencer is well versed in selling and advertising online.

Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

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