Information travels fast. As soon as news happens CNN.com has it on their home page, RSS news aggregators have delivered the content to subscribers, hundreds have written blog posts, it has a Facebook group, the footage is on YouTube, people are having a conversation about it on Twitter and Google, MSN and Yahoo! have indexed it for the world to discover. All of this happened while you were designing you newsletter and everything you were going to say has already been around the world. The simple fact is, Web 2.0 moves much faster than you. Today's information is instant. Social Media helps connect us and distribute information faster and in new ways. If you're thinking about sending out a newsletter, consider the following alternatives:
- Create a Facebook Group: By creating a Facebook group you allow people that are interested in your dealership to join your group. Facebook groups are great places to add photos, introduce new staff members, upload video of new vehicles and answer questions. It is one of the largest social networking sites on the web. There is no reason not to create one.
- Create a YouTube Channel: Creating a YouTube Channel is simple. In fact, if you have a Gmail account you're already on your way. Upload videos to your YouTube account and be sure to tag them with relative keywords to help people discover your content. People interested in your videos can subscribe to your channel (something YouTube sets up automatically) and be notified when you upload new content as soon as it is available.
- Create a Twitter Account: I absolutely love Twitter. Once you sign up for a Twitter account, you're on your way to connecting with your customers in a very unique way. Twitter allows you to send messages under 140 characters to the "twitterverse". Your message is placed on the public timeline where it can be viewed by millions of other users. These users can follow your messages and every time you post a message ("tweet"), the people who follow you receive your message instantly. Other Twitter users can send you messages, comment, ask questions and even direct message you, for a more private conversation.
These are all viable alternatives to delivering the same content that you would normally put in a newsletter and send to your subscribers. The services listed above will have a profound impact on the way we communicate. Email is becoming less frequent, Cell phone minutes are being used less, text messages are being sent more and mobile Internet usage is on the rise. People want instant and the web is listening.
I do not recommend stopping your newsletter all together but do think you can safely start shifting the direction a bit. Start using your newsletter as a vessel to drive people to these "instant" marketing avenues. For example:
- Month One: Create a Facebook Group, YouTube Account and a Twitter Account and announce it in your newsletter. Explain briefly what each outlet is for and provide a link for your subscribers to visit each. Be sure feature this content in the newsletter to ensure people see it.
- Month Two: Move the Facebook Group, YouTube and Twitter information to an area in your newsletter that will be permanent. The placement of these links should not change from now on. Continue with your newsletter content as you normally would. Be sure to dedicate a few short paragraphs each month to each of these new areas. A brief summary of what happened, such as "We received 200 new members of our Facebook Group. Click here to keep up with our Dealership".
Remember, persistence is key. People may not join or use these services at first, but as other companies and people start talking about it more they will use these new mediums to connect with you. Everything I mentioned is free and you can set all three accounts up in less than 10 minutes. Following these three recommendations will provide your dealership a way to connect to your customers in real time and can be used in conjunction or as alternatives to your monthly newsletter.