Sometimes, it's tough to change.
That has been the lesson learned in the car business over the past year. As markets go, automotive is one that has held fervently to an aggressive style of marketing that is about getting the name out, getting the message out, and getting the promotions out as loudly and proudly as possible.
In social media, being loud and proud is not very effective.
As thousands of car dealer representatives travel to Orlando for this weekend's NADA Convention, social media is the hot topic of discussion. Many dealers are going with the sole intention of absorbing as much information as they can about how to get into social media. Some have tried and failed. Others have been extremely successful. Most are still looking for help.
The key to success for those who have found it is that social media is not a form of advertising. It is not a television clip or a dealer website that can be used to actively promote their cars. Here are the talking points that will be discussed at NADA and that will hopefully guide many to understand what social media is really about:
- Social Media is About Conversation - Constantly "talking" about inventory items, specials, and tent sales is a practice that is shunned on most social media sites. Rather, people want to be able to engage with dealers through social media in a way that is clean and conversational. They want to ask questions, make comments, and receive human responses. They don't want automated feeds.
- YouTube Videos should be Informative - There's nothing wrong with posting some advertisements on YouTube, but the bulk of a YouTube channel should be two things: customer testimonials and instructional videos. Testimonials have an obvious use - people trust other people more than they trust businesses. The instructional videos should be resources. How to sync up an iPod, how to program the clock, advice on oil changes, guides to do-it-yourself maintenance; if people can find value in what you post, they'll be more likely to remember you.
- Dealership Blogs Should Include the Community - Many would claim (and be partially correct) that business blogs are all about the business. The part that needs to be added is that a dealership blog should also highlight parts of the community. You'll get more traffic to a post with images and videos regarding the Little League team you sponsor than you will about the tent sale this weekend. While it may seem that the Little League visitors are worthless, remember: image is everything. When people send their friends and relatives to see little Jenny sliding into third base, seeing it on your branded blog will have an impact on everyone who views it.
- Social News is not for Spam - In 2007, it was a valid search engine optimization technique to use social news sites like Digg and Reddit to get "link juice" for ranking purposes. With nofollow attributes, bannings, and spam controls now in place, the last thing you want to do is post links on these sites. Not only can the be detrimental to your rankings, they can also be detrimental to your image. If you post to these sites, make it valuable to the world. Otherwise, just stay off of them. There's nothing to see here if all you want to do is spam your specials.
Social media can be a tremendously valuable tool for business, particularly a car business that has had its share of knocks over the past 2 years. As long as dealers go in understanding that it's about engagement rather than advertising, they have the ability to be successful. Otherwise, it's something that they should probably avoid altogether.
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