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David Johnson

David Johnson Social Media Aficionado

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7 Habits of a Highly Social Dealership

automotive social media

I almost didn’t give it that title. I mean, come on, how pretentious is that! Naming a blog post after one of the most important business books ever written? Well, I did say almost…

There is a huge difference in doing social and being social. Doing social doesn’t necessarily mean that you are social just that you read somewhere about the importance of having a social presence and decided that you needed to do something NOT to look like a dinosaur. So, what sets a social dealership apart from a not so social dealership? Well, well, I’m glad you asked!

Habit #1 – They Blog

That’s right; a social dealership is a content creating machine. If that scares you then you need to get over it and quickly. Why? Because marketing in the sense we know it now is evolving. It’s quickly turning into an always on endeavor instead of one consistently working toward the next big campaign.

Content is still king and will remain that way but not just because of its SEO power but also because of its mind changing, thought leader prowess. Content in the form of videos, podcasts, images, the written word and more has the power to change people’s minds, the power to help you close deals and the power to create repeat and referral business. But not just ordinary, I’m just putting it out because somebody told me to, but the kind of content that people can use. The kind of content that is top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel.

Habit #2 – They Are Part of the Community

By the community I mean the real life, in person community, not just Facebook, Twitter or Google +. A highly social dealership is one that is seen, one that participates in making the community better. Not only are you being a good steward, it’s just plain good business. Take a look at the following stats from an Edelman PR Group study:

  • When quality and price are equal, 53% of people say that social purpose ranks as the most important factor in selecting a brand.
  • 72% of people said they would recommend a brand based off of their social purpose.
  • 71% of people said they would promote a brand based off of their social purpose.
  • 73% of people said they would switch brands based off of their social purpose.

You can read a post I wrote titled, Social Purpose – The Deciding Factor in Your Customers Wanting to Do Business with You that goes into more detail.

Habit #3 – They Use Social Networks to be, Well… Social!

The less you pitch the more you sell, the less you pitch the more you sell… when it comes to social networks. Social networking is about more than the pitch, it’s about selling the people of the dealership more than it is selling the cars of the dealership.

I know that may leave some of you scratching your head, but it’s the truth. If you go into social marketing with the idea that you are going to use it to sell vehicles or fixed-ops, then you are going about it all wrong. Instead, think about how you can connect in an authentic way around what matters to the people you want to connect to the most.

Habit #4 – They Invite Their Friends Over

That’s what friends do right? Of course! A social dealership will have Facebook days where they invite people to the dealership for a fun time. Have a cookout, after hours, invite the fire department for the young ones, crowd source somebody to play music (I’ve seen this done before and it’s huge!), and play games. Make it a family night and hold a raffle for door prizes (a lot of times local businesses will give you gift certificates and whatnot for the free advertisement), record the whole thing and put a video together that can be shared.

Habit #5 – They Have a NEWSletter

A social dealership sends out helpful advice to the people subscribed to their email lists. This doesn’t mean that they are trying to pitch anything, which is okay to a point, but instead they give out helpful advice on how to take care of their car, what the dealership is doing socially, such as the meet-ups mentioned in Habit #4, and other local news that pertains to the dealerships social purpose mentioned in Habit #2.

Habit #6 – The People Of The Dealership Are Social

It’s one thing for the dealership to be social but another one entirely for the people of the dealership to be social. It’s not out of the ordinary to see a dealership, or another business for that matter, being social on say Facebook. But, more than that the people of the dealership need to have a presence, in other words they need to be seen.

Why? Because with all things being equal, people will do business with the people they like, know and trust. How is that going to happen if they don’t know the people that make up the dealership? Think about it…

Habit #7- Video

Video emailemail newsletters, walk-around videos, DIY videos, there are so many different kinds of videos that a highly social dealership can make that there is no reason why they shouldn’t. It’s all about being visible.

The service drive at a highly social dealership will put out a DYI video on changing wiper blades while a salesperson will make a video on how to work the navigation. It’s all about showcasing the personalities at the dealership while at the same time giving helpful advice. Along with that a highly social dealership will record the happenings at the dealership, birthday parties, Christmas parties and even meet ups so that the community can feel they are part of what is going on.


Each one of the 7 habits above can be expanded on and while each one will allow a dealership to become socially adept there are others that are important as well. What other habits do you feel should be added to the list? Let me know in the comment section below.

Mike Elliott
Great article, David. If you are helping to open the eyes of some managers and've done a good thing. Regarding a Dealerships' Social Media, are you more a proponent of doing it in house or outsourcing it? In example # 7 you mentioned Do-It-Yourself videos (and I agree with you). I'd bet that a DIY video will usually have more credibility than something slicker. Real people want to do business with other real people. # 2 made me think of how I react to a local business that sponsors youth sports teams. When I see that picture of the kids in their uniforms on a business' wall I KNOW the owner wants to support the community that they're in.
David Johnson
In-house is best in my opinion. Social is personal, real people have to be involved in order to make the kind of connection that leads to increased loyalty and associative memory (branding). I do feel that in order to get it done right that a dealership should bring in somebody to help them put together a social strategy. Just get to all the pieces in order. I appreciate the comment!
Shannon Hammons
Great reading. A lot of good information here to help all of us be more aware of what we can do to become better at our jobs daily.
David Johnson
I appreciate the kind words Shannon, I'm honored you liked it!
Josh Knutson
Hit it on the head! Dealers need craft themselves both online and in person to create a social experience that people relate with and get excited about. Great article David!

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