Best practices for social networking sites?

Marc Wagner
Hi all! I'm glad to see a discussions area on Driving Sales! We've started a blog for our dealership and we've been on the ball about keeping our Website up-to-date and updated, and now I am looking into the next steps for us which would be to start getting into social networking a little bit more. Mostly focusing on sites like Facebook and Myspace. I'm wondering if anyone could share some experiences, good or bad, about getting their stores involved in sites like this. What worked in getting people to your pages and staying there and what turned out to be a waste of time and resources? Thanks!
Eric Miltsch
Hi Marc, Smart move. Create a plan for your blog - what's going to be the primary purpose? Will it be an extension of your inventory? Offer consumer advice? A personal view of the dealership? Then - start writing. Write about those things that interest you, but make sure you thinking of who your visitors are and what you want to deliver to them. Get your readers involved - ask for feedback, conduct a poll, write something that gets people thinking. Encourage them to participate. Register with blog directories like blogcatalog.com, mybloglog.com, stumbleupon.com and technorati.com. Register your feed w/FeedBurner.com as well. Contribute to other blogs, build relationships with other industry contacts and your dealership visitors. Most importantly - add Google Analytics to get a grasp on where your visitors come from and the keywords driving them in...use this info to help mold your content to provide as much value as possible to your visitors. Lasty - keep writing. I launched WhyBuyUsedCars.com in
Paul Rushing
To add to Eric's points, You need to remember people want to connect with people not brands, ie Anytown Dealer, let your people lead the march in connecting. Building a permission list with these platforms will take time, it will take even longer if the crowd you are trying to connect with feels that all you are doing is trying to figure out how to put the next sale or special in front of them. That does not mean you cannot do that with these platforms but before you have the right to do that you have to establish a level of trust with your audience. In my opinion the best way to do this is to let people connect with people, who happen to work at your store.
Philip Zelinger
All of the above, plus - you don't have to do it alone! Your staff, vendors that you do business with and community forums that already exist through the local chamber of commerce business to business social netwroking sites and blog forums - as well as those that or are begging to be born with your help and support - will all extend your message beyond your individual scope to everyone'es benefit! I live to leverage and free sites for your salespeople through auto industry consumer sites like CarFolks.Com are another resource that can be tapped. The main point being that you should motivate your staff to develop their own online "why buy here book" or extended personal and professional identity to compliment that of the dealership. The "spheres of influence" that they command will amplify your message many fold.
Larry Schlagheck
This may sound like common sense but it happenas all too often: don't get too personal. It can be tough to stay on top of a blog to keep it fresh, so if you don't have something to say probably best not to. Many bloggers end up writing stuff like this on a slow news day: "So, I'm sitting on my deck trying to think of something to write." Who cares! Keep it informative and people will gravitate toward it and you.
Paul Rushing
Expounding on Larry's reply some, Day out and day in blogging can be overwhelming as well as establishing connections in social networking sites. One thing you may want to try after you have a company blog established is round robin the duties across departments. Your service manager could blog about seasonal car care tips, your title clerk could blog about fixing title work, your f & i director < well never mind > . Get a kid from the local college pay her per post for local events. Plenty of ways to come up with content that is both evergreen and informative, while at the same time building a following of loyal fans.

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