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I've written about this before and I hope I never have to write about it again. Unfortunately, this past week at Digital Dealer proved to me that more companies are pushing the concept of having the dealership present on 50+ social networks.
Let's get beyond the argument that they're not useful. As I've said before, many used to sell SEO by saying that they'd get dealers listed on thousands of search engines. The same holds true in social. There are only 7 social sites that truly matter to a business today.
What's more important to understand is that getting on all of these social sites is not only useless, it's detrimental. Here's why:
What's worse than when a potential customer doesn't find you on their favorite obscure social network? When they do find you on their favorite obscure social network and you haven't been active in a year. Believe it or not, it's insulting to some people.
Still, that's what's happening. Dealers are buying into these bulk social media products and finding that their vendor is creating these accounts. They might even post some things to them. In most cases that I've seen, they're either putting them on an automated feed or not posting to them at all after a certain period of time (the first week?).
So here you are with dozens of social network profiles floating out there. Are they really being monitored? You don't know. What happens if you cancel with that vendor? Are you going to start monitoring them? What happens if you have, say, a Tumblr account branded to your dealerships name and you and/or your vendor stops posting to it and monitoring it. Someone comes along and starts posting their spam links to the page, perhaps links to their favority Viagra site, multi-level marketing scheme, or porn. You get the picture.
If you're going to build it, put the effort into keeping it up. If you're going to have a vendor build it, they certainly better be spending the time and resources to keep it active and monitoried. You don't want it to get hijacked by a porn spammer with your dealership's name attached, which leads me to my next point...
That's what's happening. If you're paying to get onto these 50+ social networks, you're paying to reach literally nobody. Some of the profiles that they get you on have zero chance of ever being useful. Why would you pay for a package that includes worthless profiles (that will go dormant at some point and potentially become spam havens under your name?).
Here's the worst part. Many of these profiles can't even be found under direct searches such as "[Dealership Name] Profile/Page". The pitch is that they will help with search. The reality is that the only chance they have to appear in search is if a spammer comes along, posts their links, then optimizes the profile so that people can find it.
It's either worthwhile (why would it be part of a product and not be worthwhile?) or it shouldn't be draining the resources of the vendor you're paying for social media (in which case, are you simply buying fluff?). There's no in-between.
If the companies who are selling this product realize that these profiles are worthless, why are they selling it to you? If they don't realize that they're worthless, why are they claiming to be social media experts?
The truth of the matter is this: they know they're worthless. They also know that "50+ social networks" sounds a lot better than "4 primary social networks" when they're delivering a sales pitch. That's all it is. It's fluff for the pitch.
100% of the attention of a proper automotive social media service should be focused on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and the other major social sites are best controlled by the dealership at the local level. That's all there is to it and I'd happily debate any vendor who says otherwise.
Don't fall for fluff.