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Interview with Eric Miltsch of Auction Direct.

Eric Miltsch is an IT & Web Director for a successful east coast dealer group called Auction Direct.  Under Eric's supervision, the company has executed one of the best social media campaigns to date by a dealer group! They have used innovative ways to create dialogue with customers, increase sales and create greater loyalty.  The DrivingSales publisher interviewed Eric about some of his vision and tactics for using "twitter" and other social media tools.  Read his comments below and feel free to ask Eric questions of your own in the comments, he will respond. 

Thanks Eric for sharing the wisdom!

DrivingSales: Eric, tell us a little about yourself, your background and Auction Direct.

Eric: As the IT | Web Director for Auction Direct USA, I get to do what I love every day: Manage the online portion of our business and oversee our store network.

I enjoy having the ability to marry both the technical and the creative elements involved to provide efficient and cost-effective solutions which ultimately drive traffic, create qualified leads and sell more units. Plus, I'm also a car fanatic! I'm passionate about building our brand online and changing the way the shoppers perceive the used car retail segment. 

Auction Direct USA is a Used Vehicle Superstore committed to changing the way people buy quality, low-mileage, late-model used cars and trucks. Our difference is the low, no-haggle prices on every vehicle. Our discount pricing beats the traditional dealership pricing every time.  

I was fortunate enough to work with the founders of Auction Direct USA several years ago. They asked me to create the new online presence for Auction Direct shortly after they opened. Once the business model proved itself, one thing led to another and I was given the opportunity to develop the IT Department and formalize the online business elements as well. I love what I do, the people I work with and look forward to the future as we open more stores and create a positive effect on the industry.

DS: What exaclty is Twitter? What does it do?

Eric: Twitter is a relatively new micro-blogging tool that, when married to an existing social media strategy, further extends your online presence…plus - its fast and free. Much like text messages, Twitter lets you send and receive messages, up to 140 characters at a time, while responding to a baseline question of "What are you doing?" Your messages are sent to your followers while you receive messages from people you have chosen to follow.

DS:   What benefits are there for a car dealer in microblogging?

Eric:  There are a multitude of benefits to car dealers. Networking, customer service, brand/confidence building, traffic driver and even as a sales tool. I've had success within each of these categories; I don't recommend using it as a sales channel out of the gate. However, the sooner you can build authority and confidence among your followers, the faster you can expand your scope of usage with additional ideas.

DS: How should one gets started?

Eric:  Cover the basics first: Set up your account completely with a full bio description, links, avatar and background image to make a professional and unique appearance. Don't start following everyone - select a few key people and learn from them. (2000 is the max.) I cover more launch strategies in my upcoming "Car Dealer Twitter Handbook." Stay tuned for more details later this month!

What results should I look for?
How do I know if its working?

Eric:  Initially, you'll want to see an increase in followers. Follower replies, conversations and re-tweets (followers re-sending your messages so others see it) are all strong indicators you're doing the right things. Be sure to track your own analytics as well; Use URL converters that provide built-in tracking such as

DS: Does this get in the way of your day job?

Eric: Not at all; although you can get caught up wasting time by using the standard web interface. Desktop applications such as Twhirl and Tweetdeck will help you stay organized and keep things efficient. A handful of other tools such as Twitterbar for Firefox and Twitterrific for iPhone can help keep Twitter close while staying focused on your daily activities.

DS: How can one get more information about using twitter?

Eric:  Glad you asked; aside from jumping in and signing up, be sure to organize your entire online strategy first. Once you have a defined plan in place, then you can move more specific and advanced twitter strategies. Find additional tools in this DrivingSales twitter blog post and discover even more advanced ideas and strategies in my new Car Dealer Twitter Handbook. I'll keep you posted on the release!

Post any questions in the comment section below and Eric (and other industry pros) will respond:

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