Five Strategies for Social Media ROI
Social media is relatively new and critics often state it does not produce concrete measurable results and thus is not worth your time. This is false. Here are five concrete, value-boosting strategies that your store can use to benefit from social media.
Your dealership should already have a storewide Customer Relation Management system to help you track and transact with your customers. Social CRM has a parallel goal to your CRM system, to maintain and strengthen ongoing relations with your customers. However, Social CRM is much less focused on creating transactions, and much more focused on creating strengthening relationships. These relationships are built and maintained through efficient conversations on social media sites.
High quality content that engages customers and creates ongoing dialogue is the key to social CRM. When your customer has a question about a 60k mile service, the answer should be found on your blog. When you sponsor your customer's little league team you should be posting pictures, articles and stats about the team. When your local bank is raising money for a charity you should use your social assets to support them. If your OEM has a recall, you need to transparently blog about it as soon as it happens. Anytime someone comments on any of your posts, you should answer them. Likewise the dealership social manager should be an active participant on other community forums. Don't just participate on your site, that is not being a good online citizen.
You should reach out to your customers in the communities where they already participate such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. You will sometimes bring these users back to your blog through links.
Your branding goal is to solidify your name in the market as synonymous with the brand values you stand for. When someone hears, "Your Dealership Name" they should think, "Best price with no haggle" or whatever your brand stands for. Social media is an excellent medium to build your brand because you do not have any constraints of the 15-second TV spots, 30-second radio remotes or the price of the airtime. Tell your story in conversational ways. Use video, blog posts and tweets to share content that stands for your brand. The content should NOT all be created by you, share other people's content too.
Remember, your content will consume and shared in direct proportion to its quality. Your view on what is quality content and your customers view are most likely very different things. In this case your opinion does not count! The customer is in control; give them the quality content they want.
Another important part of social media is defending your brand through reputation management. Use a "listening tool" to follow the dealer rating sites, blogs and social networks. Track keywords such as your name, OEM name, competitor's names and other names of interest to your brand. Have a plan for leveraging good comments about you, and engage the negative comments to solve problems.
You need to be nimble, transparent and calm in responding to user reviews. If there is a problem at your store fix it, and let the customers know of the resolution. You will be rewarded not because you are perfect in execution, but perfect in effort.
Since the future of marketing is about content, and the better your content the better advantage you will have at building traffic. There will be a natural boost of traffic from your participation in other communities as users follow quality links that you leave. Think of links as paths back to your website. The more legitimate links you have, the more traffic you will garner. The better your content, the more reason people will have to share your links. Become a destination site by sharing good content and measure the traffic gains and leads from your Google analytics.
Inbound marketing is important, be a magnet for consumers by being the best place for them to get information.
Links around the web not only create multiple paths back to your site for human visitors, but they also act as "votes" for your website when Google determines your site's authority. The more quality inbound links you have that say, "Honda Accord Boston" helps Google rank your site higher for the search term "Honda Accord Boston." Now, there are lots of other factors in determining your site's ranking, and poor link building can actually hurt you in Google's eyes, but correct social media participation can be an excellent source of link juice.
In addition to the value of the links you will notice that pages that you create on social sites can often rank quite easily themselves for long-tail keywords. For example perhaps you create a presentation about "getting the most for your trade in" and share the presentation on a site like slideshare.net. That page on slideshare could rank for the term, "getting the most for your trade in." Google visitors that are searching for help with trade in valuations will find this slideshare page and if your content is good they will come from there to your site.
In this example you will get positive branding, link value from the post, another page that ranks in the SERPS and additional referral traffic. All these benefits can come from one correctly done, high quality post on a social site.
Its not rocket science. Don't be afraid because of the "Nay-Sayers."
Look, social media is the Wild West right now and there are lots of people causing dealers to fear this medium. These critics do not do not understand social media themselves.
Social media is not rocket science and there are substantial benefits to being involved. Don't be shy. Get involved. Invest some time and try things out.
I hope these five strategies help your store gain a better perspective and direction. Please share your successes and failures with social media...