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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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The Truth About OEM-Level Social Media

I had one of the most exciting things ever happen to me professionally around this time last year. I recall it specifically because I remember Halloween being in the air when the news came around. My company wanted me to build a social media solution that took everything that I had learned outside of automotive and brought it into our industry.

This alone was not exciting. The key was that I had told them that the only way I would do it is if they understood that this required extreme levels of manual effort, that automation was completely out of the question, that it would be nothing like anything else in the industry, and that it would probably be very expensive. The agreed to the rules. That was the exciting part.

Fast forward to today and 99% of what I had predicted had come true. Everything's flowing nicely. Clients are happy. Nobody has cancelled in a year. Things are grand. There's a sad part to this story, the part that makes it important for dealers to understand.

When considering how to take this type of a product as-is to an OEM, I'm completely stumped. Manual effort works fine for hundreds of clients, but what would happen if there were thousand, all with the same brand. Suddenly the rules that I put into place such as "no two dealers can post the same thing" or "all inventory items that we promote have to have something special about them" suddenly become a huge challenge to apply. That's when it hit me. It isn't that the OEM social media efforts that I've been bashing for the last year are being run by people who don't know what they're doing. It's that coming up with a scalable plan in a manual arena like social media is like trying to mass-produce something by hand.

It takes people. The more dealers they have, the more people they'll need. Unfortunately, finding the right people, keeping them all coordinated, informing them of the changes that are happening in social media every week or so, and keeping it all in line within a budget is a daunting task. I was speaking to my counterpart at one of the OEM social media providers and was informed that each of their reps handle 175 accounts. My jaw literally dropped wide open. A coworker stopped in front of my door while passing by because of the look of shock on my face. Seriously.

Currently, my team is reaching their limits and I have 15 dealers per social media team member. That's how labor-intensive manual, high-quality social media can be. Those of you who run your own social media at your dealership can do the math and see that it pans out. How an OEM or a vendor can expect one person to handle 175 accounts is absolutely mind-boggling. It is, unfortunately, the reality, and their processes are the reason that they are working with an OEM and I am not.

Is it difficult to make an OEM-level social media program that is scalable but that still achieves the end results of selling more cars and drivng more service business while representing the dealership appropriately in the community and keeping in constant communication with all customers that reach out? Yes.

Is it impossible? Perhaps, but I won't accept that.

Here's my challenge to you, Driving Sales Community. If you could picture what attributes would be necessary for an OEM-level social media program to work properly, I'd love to hear it. Here are the minimum criteria:

  1. Be scalable, of course.
  2. Promote the overall brand across the country.
  3. Promote the dealership's brand locally.
  4. Sell cars. No, not just by increasing exposure, not by putting an inventory widget on a tab, and not by posting cat pictures. It must really, truly sell cars directly through social media.

The last part is, of course, the tough one when applying the first criteria along with it. Scalable and effective. They are hard to put together. Other vendors have proven that social media is scalable but they're not selling cars. I've proven that social media can sell cars directly, but it's not scalable. I need the middle ground.

Thoughts?

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