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The first thing that many car dealers will think when they read the headline is, "I'm not interested in going to a party. I want to sell cars!" Dealers and businesses in general have been walking a fine line between "having fun and being interesting" on social networks like Twitter and Facebook and truly using them for business. What most dealers do not understand is that having fun (and more importantly, being interesting) is the first step towards being able to promote your business through social media.

In Paul Rushing's post about how dealers shouldn't spam social media, he clearly lays the framework for what I'm about to say.

Future posts will outline what to do and how to do it on social networks. Automotive social media is about conversations and engagement, so first it is important to understand how they work.

Going to a Dinner Party

Whether you go to social events or not, you can imagine the scene...

You walk in and there are dozens, even hundreds of people standing in groups, walking around, chatting, laughing - generally enjoying themselves.  You start to mingle, look for people that you know, and perhaps walk up to a group of people talking.  They notice you and smile. Someone in the group may say, "Hello, I'm Jennifer."

You say, "We have a special on certified-preowned Accords right now. Only 5 left, so let me show you where to find them!"

Everyone's smile in the group disappears and they turn to each other. One might say, "That's nice. Thanks for sharing."  Otherwise, they start ignoring you.

You walk up to someone alone at the bar.  They notice you and say, "Man, I really don't do well at these types of things, but my wife made me come."

You say, "I just traded for a 2004 Ford Mustang Coupe. It's SWEET! You can see it right through that window."

Startled, your new "friend" walks over to the window, looks at what you're talking about, nods, and walks away.

Someone spots you and walks up to you. Excited, you have your pitch ready this time. "Hey, we have a special for people at this party only - a $9.99 oil change! Just say you heard about it here."

The person who walked up to you is still smiling. So far, so good, right! He says, "Earn money from home while you sleep. Get my new MLM ebook. It's free!"

Other people, also smiling, spot the two of you talking and join the conversation. One says, "Let me show you how to get 300 people a day to YOUR dinner party."

An attractive girl walks up and says (with an oddly masculine voice), "Take a look at my pics of me with a goat. It's hot!"

At this point, you start wondering, "Why haven't I sold a car yet? Why are people pointing at me in their groups with looks of disgust? Why don't I have a ton of people gathering around me to hear about all of the wonderful inventory and specials I have to offer?  Who are all of these weird people that ARE talking to me?"

You leave the party and think, "Wow. These things just aren't for me."

Going to a Social Network

The same thing happens on Twitter and Facebook every day. Car dealers join, try to make friends, try to sell cars, and wonder why nobody other than spammers is willing to talk to them.

The key to using social networks properly is to be interesting and interested. Remember these key points:

  1. People like to talk about themselves and things that interest them.
  2. People like others to hear about themselves and be interested in them.
  3. If you are interesting as a member and show sincere interest in others, many will want to get to know you.
  4. The more people that get to know you, the better your chances are of being found by someone interested in buying a car from you.
  5. The easiest way to get others to want to know you is to be passionate about your interests as they relate to others. In other words, be real.
  6. Talking about things that are important to you, truly important to you, is the key to being real.

Again, the specific actions and ways of utilizing social media for business will come in future posts, but here is a great place to start: you don't have to be mundane to use Twitter and Facebook. As much as it appears that these sites are about sending messages such as "Playing with my cat right now" or "I just discovered that I like goat cheese", the reality is that those who are truly successful say a lot more than that.

You, as a car dealer, can be interesting without pitching your stuff. Join conversations. Start conversations. Ask questions. Reply to people.

This stuff just isn't that hard.  Here are some examples of Tweets and Facebook status updates that can get you heading in the right direction:

  • "Which American hotrod is king of the road today: Mustang, Camaro, or something else?"
  • "Wow, NYTimes reports that Ford made a big profit last quarter. <link> Is this the beginnning of the rebound in the industry?"
  • "I just traded for an '81 DeLorean. That's right, the Back to the Future car. Anyone have a flux capacitor handy? <link to pic>"
  • "The best part about Saturday tent sales: free hotdogs and burgers. Firing up the grill now."

This could turn into a longer post than it should, so I'll end the "tips section" with that. The point is this: you wouldn't walk into a party and start spouting specials and inventory items to random people. On the other hand, if you are interesting and interested in others, someone is eventually going to ask, "So what do you do for a living?"

When you tell them that you sell Toyotas in Los Angeles, eventually someone will say, "Nice. My sister in LA needs a minivan. What can you do for her?"

How you respond to that is very important, but we'll discuss that in the next post.

* * *

Read more about Car Dealer Social Networks on this blog and follow me on Twitter.


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