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Search and Social = Crutches for Bad Planning

How many search engines have faded into obscurity or completely disappeared?  How many social networks have become Internet wastelands?  Recently we have seen major social sharing sites, that people had built businesses around, drastically change the way they operate!

Social and search are still great ways to generate traffic  but we have to remember that all our efforts in  those mediums can also are subjects to the rules of those that own the respective platforms.  Our use of sites such as Facebook and Google we have to play by their rules and they own what we give them.  As users and advertisers we are nothing more than "Digital Sharecroppers", we are building our business completely dependent on another company. 

These other properties can also decide they don't want us as users anymore especially if we make a mistake and don't play by their rules 100% or they just fade away into obscurity, think Myspace and Digg.  Chances are Facebook and Google will buck the trend and make it for more than a few more years but I also remember when AOL eclipsed CompuServe  when they introduced monthly billing versus hourly, where are either one now?

More and more dealers are spending their time marketing on sites like Facebook, because that is what everyone else is doing, it is the hot buzz and makes them feel what they are doing is cutting edge.  Platforms change fast and entire industries and companies have been built trying to figure out how to get the most from Google both as a search engine and as a paid advertising platform.

We provide the content to make their sites great but they can do with it as they will.  We pay them to drive us traffic or give them our best stuff in hopes it will get noticed.  We are paying a high rent to use assets that we do not control, which may not be here tomorrow. 

The secret is to place the most effort and dollars on assets you control and not on assets you rent.  Invariably dealers are doing this backwards, spending high dollar on "services" to provide traffic when the bases are not covered.

Does this mean ignore social and search?  Not at all.  They are still excellent mediums and should be part of the marketing mix.  However they are expendable and may be gone tomorrow.  Spending  money there before taking care of the most important assets first is a band aid on a wound that will never heal, it's just a temporary solution.

In this digital age there are three things that dealers must capitalize on for the longevity of their business.  Assets need to be created that they CONTROL.  Everything else is to prop these assets up.

  1. A well designed website that you control with GREAT content.  - If you have a great website with great content then people will share it with others in places they aggregate.  That could be on Facebook, Twitter or even on Myspace if they still visit it.  Once your website has great content and other s are sharing it the search engines will notice too.
  2. A list of past and potential customers that want to hear from us.  - Past customers and new leads should be the greatest sources of traffic to your website and other offers.  If you do a great job communicating with those that have done business with you and those that have raised their hand wanting to do business with you then your job as a marketer is done.  The money is in the list if you treat it well.
  3. A sterling reputation in the community and online.  - Really happy and satisfied customers are going to shout from the rooftops if you give them an awesome experience.  You may have to nudge them to share it with others but if done properly this will make a huge impact.  They will do it in the venue that best represents them. 

 

If you take care of the home bases first you do not need social or search as your primary source of traffic.  Dialing in those three areas first are the difference in renting and owning.  You should never build your business online to rely exclusively on a venue you do not control.   If you build your own traffic sources you will prosper even if Google and Facebook pull the plug tomorrow.  Search and social will prop your online endeavors up, they will accentuate your efforts.  Just don't  let  your fate be in the hands of a platform that may be gone tomorrow.  Take care of home and home will take care of you!!

 

Paul Rushing is the Search Marketing Manager for iMagicLab.  He brings over 15 years of automotive experience to iMagicLab and stays ahead of the curve on search marketing and social strategies.

 

 
 
 

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