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Timothy Martell

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Understanding Social Media Marketing

 

Social Media Marketing: What is it? Most people think they know. But ask 10 people and you will probably get 10 different answers. You know it’s important. Your Internet Manager is telling you it’s an important component of your marketing strategy, but no one seems to be able to tell you the how and the why or how to go about putting a pen to it, right? 
 
Time to put the questions and myths to rest.

Social Media Marketing has many components, each of which can be used for different purposes – and this is what helps creates the confusion. Let’s start by categorizing the common social media tools.
 
The Social Network - This is what most of us think of when we talk about social media, but it is really just one of its formats. Let’s face it, right now Facebook is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room when it comes to social networks. But also included in the “Social Network” category are MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and FourSquare.
 
Social Bookmarking - Social bookmarking sites like digg.com, delicious and StumbleUpon function as places for people to post links to a blog, an article or online content that they find interesting.
Social Profile Sites - Social Profile sites are places to post limited but informative content about a person, place or thing. They are different from press releases because they generally offer some internal method of sharing the posted content within a community or through onsite tools that enable sharing directly to social bookmarking sites. They can include classified postings on sites like Backpage, brochure postings on ScribD, PowerPoints posted on SlideShare, or profiles created on Mixx.
 
Blogs – This is your online voice. A place to write about anything and everything, and a powerful tool for both Social Media and SEO. Blogs allow you to post content and share pictures, videos, and concepts. It’s a chance to publish your own personal online newspaper. Most are free or very low cost to maintain.
 
Now BE Social
 
So now you have a basic understanding of the important types of Social Media. How do we make the best use of them in the dealership?
 
Blog it!
 
Let’s start with the blog. If you don’t have one, this should be your first step into the world of Social Media. The reason to start here is because you can both initiate your social presence in a forum that is very forgiving and utilize your blog as a valuable SEO tool.
 
Your blog should be used as a promotional tool and include content about product releases, industry-related issues, and dealer events. That’s not to say you shouldn’t blend in some human-interest pieces, but people know when they come to a dealership’s blog that the dealer has home court advantage and they expect to be served YOUR content.
 
Your blog is the perfect place to cut your teeth on Social Media. The only way to fail is by failing to contribute. You should write a daily blog post. If you cannot contribute daily, shoot for 3 days a week. However, if you cannot post at least one article/week you should wait until you have the resources to make this a reality.
 
Build Profiles!
 
Social profiles are a great way to increase your POD score by enabling you to create multiple profiles (on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc.) for your dealership across the web, contributing to enhanced SEO. You can post links, pictures, videos, and other media containing relevant information about your dealership, which in turn can increase your dealership’s indexing in search.
 
A simple way to see this for yourself is to Google one of my company’s names: Wikimotive. Notice each of the Google results listings:
 
Wikimotive.net - Me
Wikipedia - Not me
Wikipedia - Not me
Twitter - me
Facebook - me
LinkedIn - me
slideshare.net - me
onlineprnews - me
flickr.com - me
placeblogger.com - me
 
With the exception of my actual website, all of these are social profiles! You can use platforms like these to protect and promote your dealer’s brand.
 
Social Bookmarking
 
Social Bookmarking can greatly enhance your SEO strategy.  You can bookmark every piece of content you create on the web. For example, that blog post you just submitted? Digg it! Submit it to delicious and StumbleUpon. You just created 3 links back to your blog post! Other users can “StumbleUpon” the article you submitted, “digg it” themselves or “StumbleUpon” your story. Each time that happens, more links are created back to your content!
 
The Social Network
 
Social Networks can be incredibly influential and extremely powerful dealership marketing tools. Unfortunately, 99% of dealers are destroying any chance they have at effectively marketing their brand because of the way they misuse these social networks. This is due not just to a lack of education, but a lack of expert individuals who truly understand how to market using a social network.
 
The secret to success here is actually a very simple concept that most insist upon ignoring: fun. It is counter intuitive for a dealer to pay an employee to talk about or quote some obscure line from the latest National Lampoon movie or ask how many people saw the previous night’s American Idol - or who they voted for! After all, how does that generate revenue for the company?
 
The answer is subliminal brand awareness. Remember, these are regular folks. They don’t work for a car dealership. They certainly didn’t Tivo or DVR their favorite shows and fast forward past all the commercials so they could get their dose of advertising on Facebook.
 
Let me be blunt - NO ONE cares about your 0% or the $199/mo lease or that extra special, extra rare, extra clean, extra low mile whatever you just took in. So don’t write about it on your Facebook wall. If you do, you are guaranteed to fail.
 
You need fans! Thousands upon thousands of fans! You need all the fans you can get. The best part is that it doesn’t even matter where the fans are, just that they like you and visit your page regularly. I know, you want to know why an out-of-market Facebook ‘like’ is valuable. We’ll get to that in a minute. Do a little math with me here first: Marlboro Nissan had 13,512 people who like their page at the time of this posting. The average FB user has 130 friends. That means on any given day, Marlboro Nissan has the power to influence 1,756,560 people. That is brand awareness and that is why Marlboro Nissan made an incremental $400,000 gross profit from just Facebook alone in 2010.
 
What about those out-of-market people? Let me ask you a question. Do you have any friends or relatives who live in another state? Do any of your friends have friends of relatives that live in another state? Remember, we live in a global economy today. Here are a few examples of really strange connections that led to some of Marlboro Nissan’s sales in 2010:
 
Karen of Westford, MA bought a Nissan Altima as a result of our Facebook page. She was not initially a fan of Marlboro Nissan’s Facebook page, but her brother, who lives in Indiana, was a fan and told her about a contest we were running on our page. She won the contest and purchased a car because of a fan that lived half way across the country from our store.
 
Sanjay, who lives in Marlboro, MA has always bought Hondas from a dealer in Framingham, MA. But his brother, Sandeep, who lives in India, is a fan of Marlboro Nissan’s page. He told his brother about how much fun our page was and that he should like our page. He did and is now a regular contributor to the page.
 
Turns out that Sanjay lives right behind the Home Depot that is directly across the street from Marlboro Nissan, but had never considered Nissans until he found our page, read our blog, and discovered that the Nissan Altima had been rated #1 by consumer reports for the last 2 years.
 
I could write ten pages of similar stories and those are just the ones we know of. The point here is that influencers can live around the corner or on the other side of the world. If they want to make the conscious choice to get involved with your brand, welcome and reward them, regardless of their location.
 
Bring it all together
 
By now you should be putting the pieces together. Consider the power you have to market (for free) your brand with these tools: You write a blog post about a new product. You bookmark that post on digg, delicious, and StumbleUpon. You let your Facebook fans know that you just wrote a new blog. That post automatically gets submitted to your Twitter account... In Marlboro Nissan’s case that post could reach 1.8 million Facebook users, 20 million Twitter users, 12 million Stumblers, countless digg and delicious users, the 2-3 thousand monthly blog readers... the list goes on. All from just one post! Now do that 7 days a week. That is digital marketing domination and that is how to use Social Media in your dealership.



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