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In the auto industry social media can play a huge role in brand management by bringing trust, recognition, and awareness to more than just your sales department. It can also boost your service and parts business as well as highlighting specific aspects of your F&I, such as buy here pay here and special finance, the latter of which will be the cornerstone of this post.
The special finance customer is in an uncomfortable spot. This uncomfortableness can quickly lead to stress and anxiety as it surrounds one's ability to find financing for an automobile. Imagine a young family with one car and two small children, with both parents working outside the home, who run into a bit of bad luck and find themselves needing to replace their car. Knowing their credit is severely lacking they first try their credit union only to be turned down. Hitting a dead end, because they know nothing about subprime lending, their stress levels begin to rise and they start to feel as if they have nowhere to turn.
This type of scenario happens all the time, causing the couple to Google terms like bad credit auto loan, only to find, you guessed it, a third party lead site. From there we all know what happens, but I'd like to ask you, what would happen if they already knew, ahead of time, about your dealerships special finance program, not only that but they already had a level of trust in your capabilities and knew the finance manager, the general sales manager and a few sales people by name? How would the above scenario have gone down differently?
I'm telling you right now that the ONLY reason people go to third party lead sites is because they have no other place to turn except a cold, uncaring search engine, that spit out websites that spend the most money on SEO. Things don't have to go down this way. You can make your local market more aware of your special finance department by building solid, trust inducing, win-win relationships BEFORE the need for your services ever arise. How? Through the use of social media.
Putting A Strategy In Place
Authority is influence. Having influence is authority. The two go hand in hand and I'm going to show you how to be the authority in your market, through the use of social networking. As Mitch Joel said in his book, Six Pixels of Separation, "People will buy from you and want to stay connected to you, only if they are getting real interaction from a real human being." So let's give them interaction!
Step 1: Create a blog. Don't let that scare you, setting up a blog is much easier that you might think. You can get hosted, or a self-hosted blog, I recommend self-hosted. With a quick search on YouTube I found THIS VIDEO on how to set one up.
Now that you have a blog, let's start blogging. Keeping in mind that you want to create authority, start creating posts about finances, credit repair, auto financing, banking, and the issues of high interest rates. The idea here is to showcase your knowledge in order to paint yourself as the authority. Don't use this blog to pitch yourself, just give good information. Create a good about me page that showcases who you are, what you do and what dealership you work for but don't use your blog as a thinly disguised advertisement. The idea here is to give.
Step 2: Start a Facebook fan page. Odds are you already have one but how are you using it? If you're using it just to talk about yourself, you have it all wrong. Use it as a place to post links back to your blog, and other articles & blog post that relate. Do a contest or two a month in order to get your fans to engage. Maybe you can give away percentage off coupons, Flip Cams, or dinners for two.
Look for groups in your local market and become part of them. Engage people there as well. Remember to give, showcase your authority, become a person of influence through your actions. Remember, don't pitch!
Step 3: Create a Twitter account and start tweeting. Twitter is a great way to target you local market, it's the easiest to build and if done right you can funnel those people to your blog, your Facebook page and to any videos you might want to make. Watch THE VIDEO I created for you on locating people in your local market.
Again, don't use Twitter to pitch, instead use it to inform and build relationships. Engage tweeters by asking questions and answering theirs. Direct people to your blog and your fan page, keeping in mind that the majority of what you tweet about should have nothing to do with you, it should all be about them.
I highly recommend video, although it's not mandatory. It's very easy to create and to distribute . Video is a great way to build authority and we are already accustomed to sharing them with people we know. Videos, if using the correct titles and descriptions, index in the SERPS (search engine ranking pages) very well.
You could create a series of videos on the topic of credit repair, getting financed with bad credit, or any number of topics that relate to finances in general. Just like in the strategy above the idea is to create authority, to show that you are knowledgeable in your field.
Build authority and they will come. By giving people a place to turn, in times of need, then actually fulfilling that need, you set yourself up to having a lifelong customer that creates other customers. Don't overlook the idea of building social influence on social networks, it's a source of endless bounty if you keep their wants and needs in mind. In fact, I feel that it's bad business NOT to showcase your authority. Get the team together, today, and put a strategy together, today, so that you can stake your claim in the wonderful world of social media.