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Eric Miltsch

Eric Miltsch Co-founder

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Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Car dealers are always looking for new ways to reach potential customers and retain existing relationships. Newspaper rates continue to rise while readership and reach are dropping; radio and TV results are difficult to track and expensive when compared to newer alternatives.

Social media channels offer extremely low cost solutions for visitor communication, sales messages and marketing efforts.

I'll begin this series with an overview of Twitter and a few short-cuts to help keep things moving efficiently. By now you've probably heard of Twitter, but are still asking yourself "What's the deal?"

For those of you not familiar with this micro-blogging phenomenon, Twitter combines the functionality of instant messages, text messaging and social networking by letting you send out messages limited to 14O characters.

Your messages are centered around the basic theme of answering a simple question: "What are you doing?" Before you get started, choose your voice. Decide if you are going to Tweet messages for your dealership, or for yourself. Use your logo for the dealership and a personal photo for your own account.

Your Twitter communication strategy should be clearly defined. Determine the type of information you want to share with the community. I share relevant automotive industry news, acquire consumer/visitor feedback, post new blogs and even vehicles in our inventory.

I recommend new users follow others who have established themselves as credible authorities within their respective market segments. These are the people you can learn a lot from. Their products/services may be different, but their efforts, passions and strategies are all valuable lessons. The amount of followers you get, and maintain, will be directly proportionate to the quality of your messages.

Here's a list of the Twitter resources I'm either currently using or recommend:

  • TwitterFeed.com: This lets you feed your blog, or any other RSS feed, directly to Twitter. Very easy to set-up and a user-friendly control panel.

  • Twittertise.com: This service lets you schedule a tweet for a specific time in the future. Offers stats on the link used in your tweet. Won't let you set up re-occurring messages though.
  • Twellow.com: The Yellow Pages of Twitter. Find people via location, keyword or local searches and follow those of interest.
  • TweepBeep.com & TwitteRel.com: Think Google alerts; select the desired keywords to track and receive email alerts for those terms. TwitteRel lets you select people to follow from the results.
  • TwitPic.com: Upload images to this photo sharing site and have them pushed to your twitter account. They also have a widget that will send and display your most recent image to your used car blog. Upload photos from your cell phone for even greater efficiency.
  • Twitterlator Pro: iPhone users love sending tweets with this...
  • TwitterBerry: BlackBerry users love sending tweet with this...
  • FriendorFollow.com: Keep your followers, and the people you follow, organized by letting you see who isn't following you back
  • Qwitter: This alert service emails you when someone stops following you; not for people who's feelings get hurt easily.
  • Ping.fm: This is one of my favorites. Ping distributes your messages to dozens of social networking sites such as twitter, pounce, facebook. Huge time saver.
  • TweetDeck: Nice desktop app. that lets you organize your network, see direct messages, see replies and even watch other social networks - all in one window VS. the inline column format that twitter uses.
  • Twitter can be an effective weapon among your online arsenal of strategies - it all comes down to how you decide to use it. You'll get out of it what you put into it.

    Part II will talk about additional social media strategies and resources that can help improve your business.

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