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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Russell Grant

Russell Grant Vice President of Sales

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Are You Selling Social Media Short Because "Social Media Doesn't Sell"?

More and more, I hear dealers across the country wrestling with the challenges of social media, asking themselves tough questions like:

  • "Can I pencil social media?”
  • “Does the auto industry belong in social media?”
  • “Why should I continue spending time and money on social media when it isn’t selling me any more cars?”

From Face-to-Face to Facebook

Social media isn’t about selling cars. Or maybe I should say, social media is about much more than selling cars. It’s about the future. It’s about being where your customers – and potential customers – are. Consider these facts:

  • Facebook has 750 million active users and 64% of them have “liked” a brand
  • Twitter has 100 million active users and 33% of them share opinions about companies or products at least one a week

Do you really want your competitors to be the ones being “liked”? Are you ready to turn a deaf ear when customers tweet well – or sometimes even more importantly, poorly – of your dealership?

Not only is social media how consumers are communicating, it’s how they’re buying. Nearly half (48%) of consumers combine social media and search engines in the buying process. And a staggering 85% start shopping for an automobile online. Not by looking in the paper, not by reading billboards, not by watching TV commercials, not by listening to radio spots and not by going in the showroom. Online.

What Good Is Social Media?

In a recent poll of over 900 business leaders throughout the nation, 55% said they plan to increase spending on social media in 2012. Only 2% project decreases. Their responses revealed that the value of social media totheir businesses is very similar to its value in the auto industry.

Social media can provide many benefits to your dealership, helping you:

  • Build awareness of your dealership and its services
  • Communicate and interact with your customers and target market
  • Monitor comments and conversations between customers and potential customers
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Learn more about – and respond to – your customers and their likes and dislikes, as well as their interests and concerns
  • Create new business and connections
  • Develop targeted special offers
  • Become aware of – and react appropriately to – negative comments and issues that may damage your dealership’s reputation

Yelp for Help

It’s important to remember that social media isn’t just a method of reaching out to customers. It’s a way of learning what people are saying about your dealership, your service, your salespeople and your special events.

Social media is a powerful resource for discovering strengths and areas that may need some improvement. Because consumers aren’t just shopping the Internet for vehicles, they’re shopping for dealerships, too. It’s critical that you know – and have the opportunity to respond to – comments and criticisms.

I recommend monitoring your dealership on sites such as Yelp.com, Edmunds.com, DealerRater.com and Google Places, as well as encouraging satisfied customers to post reviews on these sites and your Facebook page.

Does Social Media Pay?

In a recent survey of more than 200 marketing executives, only 26% said they can effectively measure the ROI of social media. When asked what they felt was the primary value of social media, note that driving revenue didn’t even place in the top four:

  • Awareness building
  • New customer acquisition
  • Building customer loyalty and retention
  • Expanded reach to new audiences

Make sure you understand what social media does well and use it for those purposes. After all, you wouldn’t use a wrench to drive a nail – and you shouldn’t rely on social media to drive sales. There are better tools to accomplish your goal. 

Define Success

It is best to set reasonable and realistic goals for a social media program. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish – more “likes”, more customer interaction, more traffic online and in the showroom, etc.

Because when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of social media, success isn’t measured in sales. It’s measured in the things that lead to sales – relationships built on trust, loyalty and community. And if you’re not online communicating with consumers today, they just might not be in the dealership buying from you tomorrow.

Bryan Armstrong
Exactly! Unless your customers (and potential ones too) can see you interact and are a transparent business, they will NOT have the same degree of confidence in doing business with you. Getting that scathing review online is not the time to delete, dodge or hide, but rather an awesome opportunity to respond, thank and find where the breakdowns in your process are. Building ROI through Social takes time and consistency. Don't jump in the pond if your not ready to keep swimming, you may find your in over your head. At the same time, when done correctly, it can yield untold dividends.
Russell Grant
Bryan, how long did it take your dealership to build your Social Media? What were some of your initial struggles?

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