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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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Are We Getting Social Media Wrong?

OEMs and Dealers have yet to idealize or define what social media means in regards to the brand identity or reputation management. So it is no surprise given the article in the NY times that Dealers still refuse to understand or embrace social media. Several Dealers have yet to approach social media from an angle that will leverage sales using ads with a tangible ROI, which is more important than the happy customer campaign. Hence, Dealer Rater is still the most trusted source for dealer reviews. Generating leads to the dealer using happy customers.

It is apparent; too, that some dealers believe that it is not their job or purpose to be wasting their staff’s time posting on social media.

Is taking a selfie in front of the store smiling as effective as a direct marketing ad that’s paid? 

No. So yes, while it is advisable that your employees not be posting selfies at the dealer highlighting their wild weekend binges. It is, however, essential that your dealer brands ads that are consistent with the vision of the dealer. Taking the OEM’s current marketing to their advantage. Creating an ad that sells itself through word of mouth and past customer experiences. Especially given that customers in today's market are far less loyal than they used to be. The offerings by the dealer have to be more relevant. Most importantly, relatable – promoting a post about a happy customer does not mean the next customer will say, “Well if she was happy purchasing there I will be happy too” 
Instead, the consumer is thinking “what kind of deal did s/he get” 
Instead, of using faces use a vehicle - one that has a good offer. One that will encourage the consumer who has read the good reviews a reason to inquire more information about the dealer and its current inventory. 

It is evident that the main point of this article was to say many Dealers do not understand how to develop content. Highlighting, that for the most part dealers do not have a dedicated content team. The OEMs have also done a less than satisfactory jobs explaining social media. Much less execute their ideology on a dealer level. There is no doubt that the disconnect caused disinterest, frustration, and complete boycotting in some cases. 

Instead of boycotting social media, or worse – having the OEMS control the social media on a dealer level much like they control the sites. They need to educate the managers on how to develop a marketing strategy. 

Wherein, the OEM has the dealer focus on non-thrust months. Knowing that the dealer should not be spending hundreds of dollars on marketing in a month, the OEM has spent millions. Rather, working toward developing a campaign that centers with their demographic area. In so far as leasing deals, services (weather condition specific), etc. 

One example of how an OEM can assist the dealers is to assist them in both approaching and executing a social media marketing campaign. And no, I am not talking about the happy customer campaign. What I am saying is let’s focus on a customer who is in the market based on Polk data. Letting Facebook do the rest of work. Sending the message to the right audience. 

In order for marketing to be successful in social media, the content has to be relatable to the consumer. It is like sending retirement home information to a 21-year-old. 

Beyond a simple campaign – there has to be a purpose. Inviting the customer back to your dealer website to complete a form will just lead to a massive increase in your bounce rate. In addition to frustrated customers. 

Instead, have a coupon or giveaway where the customer gives you their second most prized position – the cell number. A number that gives you their undivided attention. Knowing that 98% of text messages are read within 2 minutes. 

The coupon could be as simple as $25 for giving their “opinion” on a newly designed model. Understanding, that for this campaign to work there has to be “proof.” In so far as customers post their opinions online. Receiving instant gratification. 

Once people see the ‘transparency,’ and this is not another scratch-off scam where the dealer mails out a letter where everyone wins $3,000 to only then win gold coins. It was tragic. They will be much more likely to respond to the dealer. 

Direct marketing via social media – if done efficiently with a purpose – can be incredibly effective. However, make no mistake – throwing out a loose underdeveloped vision that has not been explained or made known to the staff will in no way help the dealer. It will only lead to mass confusion. More confusing and clustered than your website already is screaming “CONTACT ME I AM DESPERATE.” Asking your customer to chat with a robot. 

I challenge dealers to look at their social media page. Reviewing the last campaign they did. Developing a new campaign centered on a local community event such as a pet adoption day, carnival day – even a safety awareness event before school starts.

Taking small steps, and planning according to your OEM calendar will help make transitioning into social media much less complicated. 


Brandin Wilkinson

Great content once again Derrick! I like the approach that Gary V takes, "document don't create" If you document a healthy culture, fun atmosphere, and a lot of business going on, people will want to engage with your dealership willingly.  Dealers often talk about customer service, hassle-free buying, etc in ads, social media platforms give them the opportunity to prove this and show how they provide excellent customer service, hassle-free buying, etc.

Derrick Woolfson

Thanks, Brandin! Exactly, I think sometimes, too we overthink social media! The other question this poses is that if you have to truly think about how to make your dealership seem "fun" & "engaged" than perhaps there are other issues lurking. Namely morale! Customers can feel the tension! 

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