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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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Does Anyone Really Understand Automotive Social Media?

Late Night Rant

I'm already regretting posting this before it's even written. It will likely go down as one of my late night rants that shouldn't have been posted, but hey, I've already started. Can't stop now.

There's a trend in the industry that has been disturbing me for a few months now. I've been hard at work on a new social media service that combines the experience we've had doing advanced social media marketing outside of the automotive industry with the core of our business in digital marketing for car dealers. What I've learned during this exploration has been disheartening.

It seems that the vast majority, both vendors and dealers, are missing the point when it comes to a social media presence. There is still a focus on getting fans regardless of why they clicked "like". There's still a trend towards posting humorous irrelevant pictures rather than taking the amazing base of content available in our industry and in the local area and making things interesting while still staying focused. There's definitely still a tilt towards the concept that social media is for branding only, that it's impossible to drive foot traffic or website traffic, let alone actually sell vehicles or service through social media.

These are all wrong. I've seen it. I know that, done right, a page with 100 high-quality Facebook fans can reach exponentially more local people with a relevant business message than a page with tens of thousands of "win an iPad" fans posting cat pictures.

Here's the point of this post and the question at hand: do you truly understand automotive social media? If not, do you want to learn? I spend many hours 7-days a week immersed in this stuff. I've done so for several years. I once thought that the misconceptions would fade over time, that the wrong strategies would be revealed as such and that they would fall from existence. It hasn't happened. If anything it's getting worse.

What say you, Driving Sales? Is anyone interested in discussing social media directly with me, either publically in the comments below or on the phone? I'm ready. I want to show what I've seen. I want to learn why the bad strategies persist. I really, truly want to help.

Arnold Tijerina
If I talk to you, can I win an iPad?
Eric Miltsch
I've been around this scene for a while JD & I can't understand why so many people are convinced that they have "cracked the code" with regards to social. I certainly haven't cracked it and nobody else should be claiming they have either. It's easy to float around this space without having much accountability because of how fresh everything is - it's still the wild west and we're all still explorers. Your question, "Do you want to learn?" poses the possible solution - if this segment is going to improve we all must do something to improve ourselves. What are we doing to learn? Do we truly know the human emotional element, do we know the tools, do we know the mechanics of how things are changing? Doing all the "stuff" we're doing now, just because it's there, doesn't help anyone. Please JD, share what you know. It's needed.
Arnold Tijerina
...but I like all of JD's humorous and irrelevant pictures and posts on Facebook :)
VJ VJ
Eric has a valid point...there can be nobody claiming that they have cracked the "social media code" for the automotive retail industry. The mass of current self-proclaimed Social Media Experts, who consider themselves up-to-beat just because they have the "Mashable News Stream" showing up in their smart phones and think that branding giants like Coca Cola and Macy's and their social media marketing approach is an adaptable blue-print for the automotive industry, are one of the causes that car dealers wandering around like me getting out of bed in the morning without my glasses on - BLIND. I remember 4 years ago, when I spoke on the Digital Dealer Conference about my beginnings on the social media endeavor, and how my dealer group at this time (SONS Automotive Group) explored the opportunity Twitter and Facebook. The examples we gave in 2009 were carefully tested and "lucky me" proven to engage and work in regards to exposure, listening to the market, and claiming great ranking positions in the Google real estate market. When I now look into the "vendor circus" of Social Media, Reputation Management and Blogging Services combined with PR, I am feeling like that dealerships and their personnel involved "praise the lord" to have found the Holy Grail with these products offered by those vendors...and again a dealer's "set it and forget" mentality sets in, again. Here is my offer JD, Eric and Arnold...let's all four sit together, and "hammer out" a true social media strategy for car dealers, let's make it public through writing, telling and showing - and then benchmark it. And let's shoot for the goal 'that the fantastic four" will graduate from the apprentice to the EXPERTS.
Arnold Tijerina
I'm in.

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