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Why is it every time I speak of Social Networking or Social Marketing as being part of a dealers marketing mix, the response I receive is a crinkled forehead and the conversation goes something like this...
Dealer: "ummm do you mean like Facebook or MySpace?"
Me: "Yes that would be an example but there are many others"
Dealer: "that's a bunch of kids not car buyers"
I think the answer is simple to understand why so many dealers think Social Marketing is for kids.
1. They associate Facebook and MySpace with kids since they have seen their children on these sites.
2. They don't really understand what it is and how it works
3. They are making a big mistake by assuming everyone else thinks like them or has the same interest.
I want to start off by asking a simple question. Do people buy from their friends faster than they will from a stranger? Of course they do!
Social groups and clubs were huge years ago e.g. Rotary, Junior Chamber Of Commerce, Kiwannis, Local Country Clubs, Elks, and Lions to mention a few. The years have gone by and many of these groups are struggling to find members if they even still exist. I use to belong to a few of these groups and trust me these guys were really marketing, face to face networking, pressing some flesh, or Old Fashioned Social Networking.
Just mention you were in the market for a new vehicle and you could be assured Bob would direct you to Sammy then Sammy would direct you to his brother Frank that worked at Hometown Ford then Frank would direct you to Dean that could provide insurance.
Well nothing has changed except we are now able to do the same thing online and yes on sites like Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Twitter, Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Forums...wooo I am getting carried away so I will keep it simple so you can get started in baby steps.
Is Social Networking for Kids? YES WITHOUT A DOUBT but it's also for guys like me who are 40 years old...ok 39. I have over 500 people in my networks and they are all within my age group. In my office my Art Director is 26 and has 700 personal contacts in his network and my wife of 29 (not really) has her Aunt's in her network and they are XX well let's just say older than me. I think I made my point so let's get started in setting up a Social network and working it.
1. Find 2-3 people that are on Facebook and MySpace in the dealership.
2. Have them show you how it works and help you set up your account.
3. Invite everyone you went to school with, worked with and INVITE ME "Paul Potratz"
4. Next sales meeting make it a training meeting and show everyone how to set up an account and encourage them to do it and explain the benefits to them and the dealership... everyone at the dealership from service, parts, office.... everyone needs to participate.
5. Set up the dealership as a group and ask everyone to join the group.
6. Post specials, Videos, Pictures, Sales Person of the Month, Service Writer of the Month, Awards, Special Dates in the Group, Interact Write on Walls, WORK IT.
7. Ask Customers to Join the Group in email blast, direct mail, print ads, post a link on your website, include the group in everyones email signature.
Once you start using Facebook it is habit forming and so cool! You will find several other ways to create buzz in your network and group with applications, bling, and gifts. You can even have your own custom application built and put into play on Facebook ...now we are talking Viral Marketing which is for another post coming.
Think of it like this: If you have 100 employees and the average person will know 400 people that is a lot of people that will receive your brand from someone they know personally. This is real word of mouth advertising.
Oh and did I mention it is free!