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Recent events in the Online Automotive Social Networking space have brought on great changes of thought, ended careers and even induced me to change the direction of my automotive career forever, it is doubtful that I will ever seek employment in a dealership setting again.
There has been a cottage industry developed in the car business where dealers and their sales people are being held under scrutiny by their customers. The dealers are even encouraged to seek these reviews out from their customers. While I may not agree with some of the marketing tactics being used by these organizations (No M.L I don't mean you), they still provide value to people searching out dealers.
Here at drivingsales.com dealers will be allowed to review vendor practices and interact with the community and the vendors in a level forum. That is the power of networks such as this. It give everyone the opportunity to engage each other in an online setting.
You will never get everyone to agree on certain aspects of online marketing. As an example from my experience as an affiliate marketer I believe that traffic is everything while as a dealership Internet Sales Manager my main concern was conversion. It was probably due to my payplan at the time, but at the end of the day I still believe that Traffic is Supreme, because it helps build your branding message while at the same time it does produce conversions. You cannot zero in conversion ratios until you have built the traffic. That is Internet Marketing 101.
What we publish on the world wide web is being scrutinized very closely, mostly by people who do not participate. Many times things that we say or do online causes people to react inappropriately. Keeping the conversation tied to their back room networks and not addressing our criticisms head on, while at the same time they make ever effort to sensationalize things that are published that empower approval of their product or use our content to market theirs, without giving credit to the source. I have experienced all of these phenomenons personally.
What is sad is people will try to use their influence to strike down what we have to say about their products and services using back door techniques instead of openly engaging you. Some even resort to threatening to sue you (personal experience) or try to have people removed from their positions (Ralph's Experience). Extreme Examples!! I am aware of many other incidents that people have received pressure based on what they have said about products. Even people who have no affiliation with competitors. At the end of the day it is our collective voice that will influence the industry as a whole even if it is rumblings of disagreements and gnashing of teeth that eventually brings about fair play and open communication channels, that is the power of networking.
What is great about the country we live in we have laws in place that allow us to give our opinion on anything we want. It is called the 1st Amendment. One of the best pieces of advice I can give before you publish something online that may go against the grain, think of the consequences and how it may impact you.
Does that mean if you feel like you are adding value to the discussion or creating one should you hold back? Absolutely not. I only encourage you to remain transparent and to speak your mind while at the same time don't put anything in the public domain that may affect you at a level at which you cannot tolerate. Also if you would not say it in front of your mother don't say it where someone else's mother may see it too.
My views and opinions expressed here are my own and not those of the staff, management or ownership of drivingsales.com unless they specifically endorse them. I don't mind them seeing them, that is the spirit of blogging transparency and engagement.