Dealerships across the country are jumping into Social Media, and that’s a good thing. However, as I talk dealers around the country many, perhaps even most, are not seeing any ROI from their facebook pages, twitter participation or any other social media assets. Chances are if you are not seeing ROI from social media it is due to one of two reasons:
1. Dealerships are not leveraging their social assets properly
The genesis of social media is user generated content, so naturally to be involved means that you need to join the communities where your customers are, or create your own destinations, and share quality content. This is a problem for dealerships because historically the only content dealerships have created are their marketing collaterals such as TV and Radio spots.
Most dealerships are not geared up to be content producers so they do what comes easy, sharing inventory and sale information. This is bad, in fact, its akin to SPAM. Unless a customer is specifically looking for a used Dodge Durango, they don’t care that you just took one in on trade. Furthermore, when you broadcast every “super clean, low miles vehicle” that you take in on trade and nothing else, it becomes annoying and you will loose fans. Your dealership MUST learn to create content that customers want and need. Your success in social media is directly proportionate to your ability to create good content. Chances are if people are not engaging you in social media its because your content is not worth engaging.
Hint: Your dealership fixed operations is your greatest opportunity to engage customers in the social web.
2. Dealerships are looking for ROI in the wrong places.
There is an old saying that “unless you define what success is, you wont know when you have achieved it.” This is very true of social media and most dealers do not see social media ROI because they don’t know where to look. Often dealers simply look for leads generated directly from facebook or twitter, after all, that is how we judge our website and other marketing. Lead gen is not the primary benefit of social media and thus we have to look in other places if we want to make our efforts pay off on paper quickly.
Rather than looking at social media ONLY as a direct lead generator, look at its traffic value to your other properties. Use tracking URLs and analytics to see which how much traffic you are generating from your social activities. This will also help you learn which content resonates well with your audience. Let your other properties be the lead generation machines, use the social web to stay in touch with customers and move them down the funnel as they are ready and click to visit your other properties.
Use social media sites to help you dominate the search engines by getting your profiles, blogs and ratings to rank well. In addition, use advanced SEO tools to track the value of the links you drop in social media back to your sites. Links on the web are like votes, and when done properly can help “vote” your other web sites to the top of the search rankings.
Use social media to connect with and create loyal customers. Educate the customers on how to get the most of their vehicles, connect with enthusiasts and make your dealerships the hub of their experience with their car. To judge your effectiveness here watch you friend/follower numbers and match them to how many return for service, based on your CRM system. Watch who shares your content with their followers and you can learn who your most influential customers are, then cater to these people and make it easy for them to share
The social web is amazing. It mirrors the real world on the computer screen. Think of how you would act at a social event, representing your dealership, and act that way online. Remember some VERY good advice from Seth Godin, “Revolutions are frightening because the new benefits often lag behind the old pain.” Social media is a revolution and it takes an investment of time to get through to the really good ROI. Start with the end in mind, execute your strategy to build quality content and be consistent it will pay off.
I welcome your thoughts and additions... please add them in the comments.