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Over the years, I've worked with some of the best social media marketers in our industry. I've seen some posts that have hit incredible numbers on social media sites that were seen by tens, even hundreds of thousands of people. They were all memorable, not because the content was so incredibly awesome but because "going viral" on the internet is so hard.
In fact, it's not just hard. It's what most would consider to be a fluke.
It's for this reason that I want to warn dealers about the concept of going viral. Reference.com says that going viral is something "pertaining to or involving the spreading of information and opinions about a product or service from person to person, especially on the Internet or in e-mails."
It sounds awesome! Wouldn't every dealer love for their messages on their website, blog, YouTube channel, or social media profiles to go viral and get spread from person to person in bulk? Unfortunately, it's not something that can be easily manufactured. I'm not going to go so far as to say it's impossible (my partner has participated in making things go viral for dealers in the past) but it's extremely difficult and in many cases extremely worthless. More importantly, it's not something that vendors should be selling.
This is where I rant. A dealer told us that during a pitch, they were sold on the concept that an automotive social media company would make their content go viral. We asked for any examples that they had of this and apparently the vendor didn't have any that they we're "allowed to show" to the dealer when they asked the same question, but their strategy was somewhat compelling:
The first two steps are very reasonable. The third step is questionable because one never knows when something is going to resonate enough with the audience in order to achieve the tens of thousands of social media engagements required to be even remotely viral.
The fourth is a joke. A viral post, if you're ever lucky enough to experience one, does not sell a massive amount of cars. It can help. It can obviously drive more traffic to the website and some of that traffic can turn into leads and sales, but it's not going to be a life-changing event.
Here are some realities dealers should know about the "viral content pitch" in case you ever come across it:
I'm not trying to throw stones at another vendor here. I'm simply trying to warn dealers that there are much better ways to spend your money and get realistic, tangible ROI results from social media. When I hear about pitches like these, it's no wonder that dealers are skeptical about social media vendors. We don't want to be classified as one of those who are selling snake oil. We like to keep things real.