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Adam Boalt

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Facebook Timeline and What it Means for a Dealer

I was excited to hear about the great turn out at Digital Dealer 11, the Driving Sales Executive Summit and J.D. Power Internet Roundtable.  It’s amazing to see how far these conferences have come and to be able to host keynotes such Eric Qualman, author of Socialnomics, and Gary Vanyerchuck, author of Crush It and the Thank You Economy.

It was reassuring that these keynote speakers along with other industry thought leaders had such a positive outlook on the future social media landscape for the automotive industry.  The questions that I keep asking myself since f8 is what does Facebook Timeline mean to dealers and how will that change the game.

For starters, if you haven’t already enabled Facebook Timeline, there is an easy tutorial on how to add it to your profile on TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/22/how-to-enable-facebook-timeline/).

Facebook Timeline is going to change everything.  The Facebook News Feed as we know has already started to change from being chronological to relevant.  Our Facebook profiles and pages are going to become a historical timeline of our personal and brands life.

This means that procuring content will become more challenging and brands will be forced to build engaging relationships with their customers.  Relevancy, you’ve heard it a million times, but now it will be a prerequisite if you want your post to even appear on the News Feed.

Here are 5 simple steps that I recommend you follow if you want to stay ahead of the curve when these changes occur in the upcoming weeks:


  1. Advocacy: Reward your customers and find brand ambassadors that can help build awareness around your dealership.  A reward doesn’t have to be a free oil change, you can be a bit more creative than that.  Sometimes even simple things like recognition will do.
     
  2. Authority: You need to think of yourself as authoritative expert on the subject matter and realize that if you earn your customers trust, they’ll will buy their next car from you!  Keep an open dialogue with your customers and encourage them to ask questions about buying or servicing their car regardless if they are an existing customer.

     
  3. Community: Some of the most successful dealer Facebook pages I’ve seen are fueled by sharing local community events and collaborating with nearby businesses.  It does you no good to create a customer base that’s 1000 miles away.
     
  4. Patience: Building out your social networks takes time and commitment.  It’s not a race for the most likes or followers.  If you need to outsource this aspect of your communication strategy, that’s alright as long as you choose a vendor that you can trust to communicate the right message.  Stay involved!
     
  5. Relevance: Try to share content from consumer automotive blogs that have a lot of Likes or Retweets on the post, that’s a sure indicator that people are interested in the article and it’s most likely going to have a high level of engagement and actually appear on the News Feed.


Lastly, keep in the mind that a lot of the Facebook applications you’ve seen are going to radically change so don’t get too hung up them.  The new Open Graph API on Facebook is going to be less about searching your inventory and more about your customers seeking help from friends on brand consideration.

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