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David Johnson

David Johnson Social Media Aficionado

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What Is Social Media Really, And How Can It Help My Dealership?

It's not the end all be all, that's for sure. What? But David I've been to one of your seminars, I've seen all your webinars and have read your blog posts, you're a social media guy... aren't you? In a sense you could make the argument that I am, I do preach it, I'm passionate about it and I feel that every dealership in the country can benefit from it to one degree or another but I would argue that I'm more than just a social media guy, allow me to explain.

Wikipedia says the social media is media for social interactions, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. It goes on to say that social media uses web based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.

Wha?

Basically social media is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. And just like any tool there are both wrong ways and right ways to use it. So in other words I'm saying that the "tool" is not the end all be all, it's what that tool can help you accomplish that's the end all be all. Think about it, what's worth more, the hammer or the house it built? Rhetorical I know, but you get my meaning.

So What Does The Social Media Tool Build?

It builds the platform on which social interactions can be built. It's the coffee table we sit around as we get to know each other, it's the telephone held to our ears as we talk about the day's events, it's a communication channel. What are you using that channel for?

Some would say that it's used to sell, that it's another channel to get your vehicle seen. I would say the first part is closer than the second part but the kind of selling that should be done with the social media tool is much different than the kind of selling you're used to. Social media purists would argue that you don't sell on social networks and I would say that they are wrong... in a way. True were not selling products or services but what we are selling is ourselves. We are selling the fact that we are human, that we are more than car people, that we have thoughts outside of selling cars and that we want nothing more than to build positive, win-win relationships with our clients.

I talk to a lot of dealer principals, general managers and sales managers who don't seem to get what social media can do for them, they call it a fad. Fad you say? Networking has been around since the dawn of time, in fact the fancy word I used a few paragraphs up (social interactions) is just another word for networking, is networking a fad?

With social media tools you now have the option to networking with hundreds and thousands, even millions, whereas before you were lucky to network with 2 or 3 at a time. If you're one of those people that stay away from hype for the sake of it being hype then think of it this way: Social media is the tool used to humanize and build relationships with the people in my community, much like the newspaper, way back in the day, was used to sell cars.

Relationship Marketing Is The True Hero

If you haven't had a chance to read last week's blog post please take a moment to do so, it's titled "Harnessing The "Human" Mindset." In that post I go into the mindset behind why social networks are so popular and if you are able to harness the basic desires behind it you are well on your way to increasing your social capital.

Again we can go back to Wikipedia for the definition of relationship marketing: a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns which emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on sales transactions. As a practice, Relationship Marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value of customer relationships and extends communication beyond intrusive advertising and sales promotional messages.

Isn't that refreshing! With relationship marketing the pressure of the sale isn't even there, in fact we are doing what we're are hard wired to do, be social! With the onset of social media it's easier than ever to build relationships with our clients and indirectly relationships sell. Relationships get people to talk about your dealership and your sales people, isn't that what you want, word of mouth?

So I'll say it again, social media isn't the end all be all, but what it can help you accomplish...whoa! So, what are you waiting for, go forth and multiply... your networking that is.

Cathy Aron
David, I couldn't agree with you more! The Ford Fiesta TweetUp earlier this year was a prime example of building relationships through their social media network - the success of that event wouldn't have been anywhere near what it was if social media didn't play a significant role in it. It's been proven over and over again that it's in our human nature to want to meet face-to-face. Once a relationship has been established through social media, the next natural step is to meet in person. Speaking of which, so sorry I missed you at the F&I Conference in Vegas - I'm sure our paths crossed without recognizing each other. It would be ideal if the event next year has an organized "tweetup" for online networks to meet face-to-face! Dealers, you need to jump on the train and become a part of the social networking crazed. Fad or not, it's HOT!
David Johnson
Very well said Cathy! Dealers need to stop looking at social media as just the "new kid that wont be around too much longer." It's here, it's now and it's huge and if used the right way can create incremental sales for any dealership.

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