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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jared Hamilton

Jared Hamilton Founder - CEO

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Social Media Marketing is a great way for companies to engage and energize their audience.  Dealerships and other companies are moving to these mediums to extend their marketing.  While the benifits can be big, there are some very common mistakes that businesses so regularly made it’s almost embarrassing to admit.  Commiting these errors could cause a disaster for your brand that will take a while to repair.

Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Mistake # 1.   Interrupting and shouting.

Social Media Marketing is about connecting and creating conversations around your brand or areas of expertise.  However, marketing professionals have been trained to grab the attention of the consumer and insert their message inside the short moment that they have captured. This does not work on social mediums.   I liken this to sitting around the coffee table talking with friends and interruping with your company's call to action at every pause in conversation.

Constant "call to actions" would be rude in a physical conversation and are considered interrupting and shouting in a social media setting.  Everyone that has had dinner with a sales person who does not stop pitching their product knows how annoying this can be.  The good news is that people are on social mediums because they want to be involved and they willfully give you their attention, just don’t abuse it by shouting back or you will turn everyone away like the annoying sales person.

Mistake # 2.    Using your PR/Corporate voice.  

As an extension to point #1, when you converse with friends around a coffee table you so with YOUR personality.  This is not a time for PR style language, or corporate speak.  When talking with others on social mediums use vocabulary and tone like you do in person, it should NOT feel like your PR manager is speaking through you.  A general rule of thumb: If you would say it over lunch with an associate, the language is ok.  If your statement could be printed on a brochure than most likely it is too unfamiliar and will not resonate well with your audience.  People will avoid you if you talk like a brochure.

Mistake # 3.    Not being a good citizen.

This rule is simple, but so often over looked!  You must give before you can take.  You give by participating and sharing your knowledge.  Be a good citizen by answering questions, commenting posts or rating contents to make the community a better place.  Those who are good citizens in the communities in which they participate always receive the greatest return on their participation.

Often the first step a company makes when getting involved in a community is to leave a response like this, “We have a solution to that question, see it here <link>.”

While this activity will not get blocked on most networks, it may as well be! That is one of the fastest ways to get people to ignore you.  In the physical world, sales people have always been trained that until they build value, they have no right to ask for the sale.   The same is true on social media. Being a good citizen builds your reputation and through that you will earn the right to present a call to action.  Be a good citizen and give before you try to receive.

Mistake # 4    Keeping too much control

Companies like control.  Dealerships have had control for decades but the Internet, and now the social web, has eroded that control. Don’t worry!  This is not the end of business, as you know it.  It just means you have to be a bit more open to succeed in the social, user-generated environment.

Companies should give guidelines to their employees and then encourage them to participate as actively as possible in the communities relevant to your brand.  If you offer good products and are genuinely concerned about serving your customers with value, then you have nothing to fear.  No, not every interaction on social mediums is positive, but neither are they in the physical world that you have already succeeded in! So what are you so worried about?  Your employees (if given the tools,) and your current customers (if engaged properly) will become your greatest ambassadors if you allow them to.  Your message will spread faster, wider and cheaper than ever before.  This requires a more open policy than most companies are use to, but isn’t this why your company is involved in social media in the first place, to extend your brand?  Let your brand grow by allowing your army of greatest enthusiasts spread your message.  You will not succeed without being more open.

Mistake # 5.    Inconsistent participation.

Lastly, if you were to join two customers at the coffee table who were talking about your brand, and you only said one sentence then remained silent through the rest of the conversation, how effective would your communications be?  The same is true on social media.  Engagement requires constant participation or the conversation will pass you by.  Set realistic goals, be involved daily or weekly and stick to the schedule.  Most communities have ways to be alerted and reminded of conversations that you should be involved in.  Staying involved can be a simple few minutes a day, but disappearing when a conversation is about you is not a good way to engage your audience.

Mistake #6  Being too afraid to try.

Most of you are probably reading and thinking, "this is common sense."  I completely agree, social media engagement is common sense!  If you have good “in-person” social skill, then social media marketing will be natural for you, but you have to try.  One this is ceratin, sitting on the sidelines will not make any progress!  Get involved, leave a few comments and enjoy yourself.  Most companies screw it up when they put their "marketing" hats on and look at the mediums as completely transactional or over analyze every comment they leave.  Experience has proven that transactions happen, brands grow and your message will spread best when you treat "engaging your market on social media" as you would if you ran into a customer on the street.

Be yourself, be helpful and be active!  With that, there are many experts out there reading this.  What are some other common mistakes that should be added to the list?


David Book
Social 101 - this post has been needed for a long time. It may or may not be worth "adding" to the list of biggest mistakes but it does warrant some typing. When you participate in social networking you are developing what I call a "Social Reputation." It is important that your Social Reputation match as closely as possible your actual reputation. This begins with using your real name in posts, and a picture. Amazing how many people leave out their real picture. Don't work behind empty or fake profile pics and pose with secret handles or screen names, it's you people want to build a relationship with, not a "pretend you." Like your real-life reputation, your social reputation is constantly changing. In our offline-lives, most of us understand, for the most part, what our reputations are, what they suggest and what others may think of us. We need to also understand what others think of us in our virtual-lives. When your walking down the street and you see a "friend" you immediately and unconsciously begin to "think" about this person. A picture of "what they are all about" and why you consider them a friend. Online, it's not much different. Ideally, the people that you maintain online relationships with will process the same thoughts when they see your name and picture. This seems like a no-brainer for those that we socialize with on a regular basis. However, we cannot forgot that in a business-setting we sometimes socialize with people online far less often. Make sure you profile includes your real name, a picture (ore more than one) and a complete description of who you are, what your all about any why I would want to become "your friend. " The Golden Rule: If you ever complete an online registration process to begin "socializing" within a system (like this one), the first thing you should do is make sure your profile is as complete as possible. Empty profiles are bogus. The next thing you should do is learn the six no-no's Jared outlined above. Before long, you'll have more "friends" than you know what to do with ;-) Cheers David
Hey Jared, Thanks for your post! I have a question for you: is the current approach out there akin to "not seeing the forest through the trees"? My advice to dealers is: SAVE YOUR SANITY AND ABANDON THIS APPROACH TODAY. Just creating a Facebook page, a MySpace profile, or a Blogger blog and trying to "friend" everyone isn't the key. Nobody really "wants" to "friend" a business or a salesperson absent a true reason. And no ISM or Internet Dept. can build relationships with thousands of customers through social networking, per se. has solved this problem. Make your dealership's website "social" without ever visiting a social network again. And by "social", I mean, generate sales leads from Facebook, increase your website's search engine rankings on Google, create brand awareness on MySpace - and do it all with one action. First, the problem: A shopper visits a dealership's website, looks around and either submits a lead or they leave. Effective dealers have about a 10% visitor-to-lead conversion ratio. What about the other 90%? Do you think they visited your site just to look around? Of course not, they came because they're buying but don't want to be hit with lots of email and sales pitches. So they just leave. It doesn't have to be that way. Now, here's the answer: A shopper visits a dealership's website, looks around and gets ready to leave... but wait... what's that thing there? It's a Dealer Widget. Now, instead of just leaving, the customer can grab the Widget and place it on their social network page. Why do they do this? Because they can save time and money by doing so. Instead of asking them to repeatedly visit your website to find up-to-date sales information, which they obviously want, they can get it from the convenience of their social network. Through the Email-to-News feature, the ISM can post daily items from their email that instantly appears in their Dealer Widget's news feed. If 500 people grabbed your Widget that month, that's 500 additional people that are getting your sales news that they want to receive. That’s 500 additional potential customers that otherwise would have normally just left your site, never to be heard from again. When they're ready to buy, they can use the built-in Lead Form to send the ISM an exclusive lead. When the buying process is over and the dealership has won the business, the customer can easily remove the Widget from their profile or they may decide to leave it up (if they were treated well). This is how to engage the 100 million social network users in a way that makes them say, "Ok, this is the convenience I want from my dealership, I’m in." The rewards are free leads, a greater website conversion ratio, increased search engine rankings and huge potential for viral marketing opportunities. Otherwise, dealers can keep avoiding the whole social network issue, but in today's market, that really isn't an option either.
Paul Rushing
Wow Oy, You talk about people now wanting to connect with business in a social environment, but what about businesses that pitch a product in their first comment on a social network. Kinda funny I have built a business over the last year via social networking and have yet to drop a single ad or write a self marketing piece. That is the power of networking. NOT SPAMMING LINKS IN COMMENTS!!
David Book
Amen! This is NOT the place to blog advertisements, there are plenty of places to do that. In fact, I can send you a little "widget" I made to help automate the process - wink.
Ok guys. Got the message loud and clear. Sorry for the self-promotion. I guess I got a little over zealous because I'm so involved in this issue. Thanks for the gentle guidance.

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