Twitter, Facebook and Ning sites are the craze in automotive online marketing. Almost daily I get requests to connect on facebook or an invitation to join a new ning site from a car dealer or automotive vendor. Twitter is a little different in that I do not have to give someone permission to follow me. I even had one vendor ask me to connect with the linkedin profile for their mascot, how is that a business connection?
As networking tools these sites are great resources, they can build your brand, protect your reputation and help you maintain contact with current customers -or- do more harm than good in those same areas.
The purpose of these sites is to interact with others and that requires personal interaction and that is who people want to connect with not spam profiles whose only purpose is to pitch links. To create profiles in the name of a dealership to do this with is as bad as sending bulk emails to bought leads who have not opted in to receive them.
My friend JD Rucker did a post about links being indexed at twitter, unfortunately it will probably cause more dealers and consultants to say this is the proper way to use these mediums because of the malaligned thought that it will help drive traffic and SEO value.
Fortunately for the users of these mediums they do not have to interact or connect with spam profiles. If induced to do so they will not maintain that connection if all you are doing is pitching products.
These sites rely on community moderation to identify profiles that bring little value to their platforms and waste their resources. Eventually they will have algorithms in place that will do it automatically.
People on facebook do not want to connect with a dealership profile and twitter users already have a hard enough time to cut through the noise and a ning site without value added content, not just promotional pitches, for your customer base is pointless.
The best way for dealerships to maximize the use of these platforms is to not try to maximize them, but instead encourage their people to participate and add value to their connections as an employee of the store. That is the best way to generate word of mouth referrals and business from social networking/social media.
You trust your employees to conduct themselves away from work in such a way as to not hurt your reputation in the community now rely on them to build your reputation online before you establish a digital foot print that is counter productive.
Examples of counter productive social media/networking digital footprints and some alternatives.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or use the comment form below.