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http://www.BradleyOnDemand.com 856-546-2440 

1 in 3 adults in the U.S. watches auto content on YouTube once per month! 

Consumer behavior is changing—and video is leading the drive 

In years' past, a consumer might have read reviews in magazines, asked friends and relatives for advice, and visited any number of dealerships before settling on a vehicle. That practice has gone the way of the in-dash tape deck.

Leveraging YouTube and Search, consumers are positively bingeing on digital content before making their purchases—and multiplying opportunities for marketers to be there in shoppers' which-car-is-best moments. Last year, consumers spent on average three hours more time researching than they did in 2013.8 They also performed 75% of that research on digital.9

All that research has huge ramifications for the brick-and-mortar showroom. With shoppers armed with so much information, dealerships have moved from being places to shop and explore—as they were in the days of in-dash tape decks—to mere points of sale. The average in-market shopper makes just two visits to a dealer before making a purchase.10

There's no substitute for sliding into the driver's seat, but consumers increasingly turn to YouTube before a test drive. In fact, one in three adults in the U.S. watches auto content on YouTube once per month.11 Research shows that consumers are gravitating particularly toward five video styles: test drives, walk-around, feature highlights, reviews, and safety tests.12 Mobile video particularly drives in-market consumers to take action; after watching content about cars, trucks, or racing on a smartphone, one in four will visit a dealer.13

Last year, consumers spent on average three hours more time researching than they did in 2013, and performed 75% of that research on digital.

These tendencies highlight an opportunity to attract viewers to brands' official channels. Mercedes-Benz recently responded to audiences' research behavior with a suite of videos that scratched viewers' walk-around itch, as well as offering feature demos of its redesigned E-Class sedan.

Takeaway: As a resource to whittle down a car shopper's consideration set, video is invaluable. Consider creating content around the five popular video styles (test drives, walk-around, feature highlights, reviews, safety tests), which allows shoppers to research by simply hitting play, and make sure it's optimized for mobile. Mercedes-Benz's example illustrates how marketers can be there in shoppers' which-car-is-best moments in creative, digital-first ways.

Source: (Repost from "Think With Google") 

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/auto-trends-consumer-behavior.html

  

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Benefits of Blogging


There are many components that make up a successful digital marketing campaign. Website functionality, digital advertising, SEO, and social media are all major factors, but one piece of the digital marketing puzzle that is too often overlooked is blogging. Although many dealerships believe they do not need to blog, blogging has many benefits. 

First, it can be used as a marketing tool to attract new customers. When potential car buyers go online to browse, some of their keywords may be contained within your dealership's blog, which will lead them to your website.

Additionally, a blog can become the face of your dealership. Your blog can be the first look buyers get of business. Car shoppers may come across some of your original content online and decide to contact the dealership and learn more. 

Finally, a blog has the ability to establish employees as experts in the industry. A blog is the perfect space to showcase your employees' talents and areas of expertise. If shoppers are able to come to your blog and get answers to their questions, they will gain trust and confidence in your dealership and the capabilities of your employees. 

Although a blog may not seem like a vital part of a digital marketing plan, it is a great marketing tool with a vast amount of benefits. 

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An Introduction to Google's EAT Content Rating System

In the latest addition of Google’s human search rater guidebook, the company introduced a new page rating concept used to manually rate the quality of a website and its pages. The practice of using human search raters is a crucial part of the way Google updates its search algorithm. Because as with any experiment, you want to test your theory.

The new concept Google introduced is called “E-A-T,” which stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.” In reality, this idea isn’t too different from what Google, search professionals, and digital marketing companies have been saying about quality content for years. But with an official abbreviation and plan laid out within the human rater guidebook, we now understand exactly how Google is thinking about these topics.

Getting to Know E-A-T

More and more, Google is placing emphasis on the quality of a website’s content. What this means is, the company understands how to rank pages better based purely on its content, rather than relying on inbound links, keywords, and other indicators that can easily be manipulated.

Expertise

As a user, when you search Google for information on a topic, especially one that may affect your life, such as financial, medical, or legal advice, you want to hear from an expert. Google understands this, which is why they’ve told human raters to consider the author of the content as a ranking factor.

How Google builds internal profiles for individual writers and tracks them across the web without fail is still questionable, but the basic takeaway here is that you want the information on your site to be backed up by facts.

But before you rush out to hire experts in your industry to produce your content, you have to understand that Google also tells its raters to keep an open mind as to what “expertise” entails.

Someone with no formal education could still, from personal experience, be able to provide sound financial advice to someone looking to get out of debt. Radio personality Dave Ramsey is a good example of someone Google would likely consider an expert in personal finance, despite the fact that Ramsey is not formally educated in any topic related to personal finances. His advice, however, is trusted by many, which we’ll delve more into later.

Authoritativeness

Authority has always played a large role in the way Google ranks websites and pages. But this new way of thinking about content weighs authority in a much different way than how many links are pointing to a page and where they came from.

Instead, Google wants its human raters to determine authority based on a website’s overall content quality, relevancy, and reputation. Keeping with the Dave Ramsey example, you’re likely to find a lot of useful, quality information that relates to personal finance on his website. The way that’s often packaged may be diverse, such as articles on budget-friendly family activities or how to properly sell your home, but they’re written around Ramsey’s financial principles.

Of course, Ramsey’s advice is often criticized, which could actually hurt his site’s ability to rank as an authority in Google’s eyes. Meanwhile, sites like CNN Money, BankRate, and DailyFinance are much more likely to rank higher because they’re less likely to post controversial advice or opinions.

Trustworthiness

From the information Google provided in its latest human rater guidebook, trust has a lot to do with your site’s reputation. If you’re a business, your site’s rating may be dependent on your business’s reputation.

Google tells its human raters to look for “reviews, references, and recommendations” to help them understand what experts and users or customers think about your business or your site’s content.

Awards are referenced as a way for raters to distinguish higher quality publications from others when thinking about news websites specifically. For example, if a publication won the Pulitzer Prize, it’s a strong indicator that the site’s quality standards are high and that those looking for quality news should visit that site over a less-reliable source. How Google values other awards that may be found on the web is not clear at this time.

What Does This Mean for the Future of SEO?

In the end, Google is looking for more and more diverse ways to distinguish good content from bad content, to make manipulating search rankings more difficult. To stay ahead of the curve and ensure future rankings, you have to work on establishing your site as a credible source of information.

Whether that information is related to your business or your site covers a specific topic like personal finance, the more work you put into your content, the more Google will reward you. It’s very basic advice, but that’s the direction in which Google is headed.

Originally posted on Wikimotive's company blog under the title "What You Need to Know About Google’s E-A-T Evaluation System."

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Okay, check it out.

In my last article I wrote about how most dealerships come across a little conceited online, but say that they are a customer-centric organization.

I mentioned that it's alright to talk about yourself, but ONLY in a way that demonstrates maximum benefit to your customers.

Well now I'm going to reveal how to kick your website up a notch and dominate the web, (and your market).

Like I was saying, people don't care about you nearly as much as they care about themselves.

That means that the name of the game is presenting information on your website that people care about.

But how can you produce content and information that EVERYONE will find interesting?

It's more simple than you think.

Unlike traditional media, your website has the power to cover a wide array of topics that address the needs and wants of different customer segments AT THE SAME TIME.

How do you get started? Fhugetaboudit, it's easy peasy. 

1.) Look at your current customer portfolio and identify the variety of customer segments that you already serve.

These could include Seniors, Young Families, Bachelors, Bachelorettes, College Students, Union Workers, Military/Veterans etc.

2.) Create a list of topics that those various segments would find interest. Use logic and common sense. 

What I mean by that is this:

If you want to create content topics geared toward Seniors, think about the things that they are interested in. 

a.) Vehicles that are easy to get in and out of (maybe just had a knee surgery or something)

b.) Vehicles that can tow a travel trailer

c.) Vehicles with a little more luxury (they're done raising children and have a little more money to keep for themselves etc.)

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Once you've identified the topics for each segment do this:

3.) Identify the objectives for each piece of content that you want to create.

If it's a video, figure out what the call-to-action will be so that you can track the effectiveness of it.

If it's a blog, think of the path you want that customer segment to take and what action you want them to complete.

Here's why this is important:

Everyday, millions of automotive shoppers around the globe go online to find information that addresses their concerns or answers their questions.

Right now, there aren't really any dealer websites that provide the content that automotive consumers are looking for.

You're giving the OEMs and other third party websites the power to scoop up qualified vehicle shoppers and distribute them how they please. Most of the time, to your competitors.

By segmenting your content, you're empowered to reach various people with the topics that they care most about. 

In my next article, I'm going to reveal why this strategy works so extremely well and why you HAVE to start doing it.

Want help identifying your customer segments? Send me a friend request and we can set up a time to get connected.

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This photo cracks me up because it looks as if the guy wants to make sure that you've noticed how good he looks in the reflection of the car!

What a stupid, selfish, conceited sounding question, right? "What do you think about me?"...

Yet this is what I see on the majority of dealership websites that I visit. 

A whole lot of "We're so awesome" and "Look at how pretty we are" or "We are the best"...

Okay, so you aren't using those words exactly, but you're using words that nobody cares about like these:

"We're a family-owned and operated facility with 35 years of experience" OR

"We have the best team of professional sales people ready to work with you..." OR

"Come visit our state-of-the-art facility to find out why we're the best choice for new and used cars in [location]"

Man oh man, I'm cringing just writing those phrases.

But why are they so bad?

BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS. 

And then after all of that crap, you have the nerve to put a "Rate us" page or link on your site.

"But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do YOU think about me?" 

Sounds more stupid the longer you think about it right? So let's talk about how to turn things around so that you can kick you dealership website up a notch.

First things first.

You MUST understand that every individual on the planet has a favorite word and letter. Their name and the letter 'i'. 

Why? Because nobody cares about you as much as they care about themselves. 

Now I'm not saying it's entirely bad to talk about yourself, but you need to focus on presenting yourself in a way that demonstrates maximum benefit to your customers. 

"Great, you are an award winning dealership. What does that mean for me?"

"Fantastic, you have the best leasing specialist in the entire state - that benefits me HOW?"

"Wonderful, you have a state-of-the-art facitility - how does that have a positive impact on me?"

The information you present on your website needs to be carefully thought out for maximum market penetration and benefit to your customers.

Think about the message you are conveying about your dealership to the largest traffic source you have. 

Are you presenting yourself as a truly customer-centric dealership, or are you like the rest of the pack?

In my next article, I'm going to talk about how you can take this concept and really ramp up your game. 

It's all about setting yourself apart from what others are doing, and I'm going to show you how to do that through your dealership website. 

Stay tuned...

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http://www.automotivedigitaltraining.com 856-546-2440 

Focus On "Point Of Interest" CONTENT For Your Prospects / Shoppers… Cultivate Opportunities 

This is a video I shot on site at a Major KIA Dealership in Pennsylvania last week. 

Point of Interest Versus Point of Sale… That means that Sales Consultants, Internet Departments / BDCs etc… NEED to focus on cultivating opportunities. You can NOT just wait for the "Up Bus" to come through your dealership. 

Think about it… MOST people are surfing the Internet. They are researching, they are "Googling". People are gathering "Field Intelligence". So what content are YOU or your dealership creating to provide valuable "Field Intelligence" for your prospects? Most people unfortunately will say NONE… 

For example, you can create:

"How To" Videos: 

* How To Set Up Your Blue Tooth

* How To Set Up Your Satellite Radio 

* How To Set Up Your OnStar

* How To Properly Install a Car Seat (Must be CERTIFIED to do this) 

* How To Buy A Car… 

* How To Buy A New Car… 

* How To Buy Used Car… 

* How To Find The BEST Used Car Dealership...

* How To Find The BEST New Car Dealership... 

* How To Get A Car Loan EVEN if you have BAD Credit or NO Credit...

Information Videos… 

* What is Better… Leasing OR Financing? 

* What is Better… A New or Used Car? 

* What is the difference between a Used Car or a Certified Pre Owned Car? 

Reviews / Comparisons:

* (YOU) Review ALL of the Models you sell… Make these reviews, custom and personal

* Compare all of your models to ALL OF YOUR COMPETITORS… For example, if you were a Single Point Ford Dealership you should compare ALL of your models to all of their competitor models like the Ford F-150 AGAINST: 

* Chevy Silverado 

* GMC Sierra 

* Ram 1500 

* Toyota Tundra 

* Nissan Titan 

If you would like to have more information on this topic or if you would like to set up a FREE strategy session. Call me on my cell at 267-319-6776. 

 

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Where, What, and Why: The Content Marketing Trio

Having tracked data for the last seven years in the automotive marketing arena, I can tell you a few things that I've learned that have brought us to where the content marketing world is today. It's all about process and answering the questions that consumers are asking and it's something that, as I've said time and time again in the past, needs to be viewed holistically.

Rather than go into a long post about how to make it all sing properly (that's for future posts), it's important to understand the content marketing trio. No, they have nothing to do with the Three Stooges, but those who don't understand the consumers' mentality might ended up looking like stooges in 2014. This is that important.

To get this understanding, you have to put yourself in the consumers' shoes. You buy things. Take what you know about that and apply it to the mentality and process below.

 

Where

If they can't find you, they can't do business with you. This is a no-brainer. You can advertise on the various networks, get your branding in place through billboards and radio, put ads in third-party sites across the internet, and a dozen other ways to help people find you, but it's search marketing that truly answers all of the questions that start with "where".

Since content marketing can help your search engine optimization tremendously, it fits in as the first of the trio. Most people are probably finding your website by the name of your company. While this is fine, you don't need to be heavily optimized to be found for your name. It's the other people, the ones that are doing generic searches for you by product or service in your local area, that can have a double impact on your business. By being better optimized, you are moving yourself up in searches which means you are also moving a competitor down.

 

What

This is your website. "What" you're trying to sell should be easy to determine once visitors get there. The challenge is that having a website that's just like every other website in your market is silly yet so commonly practiced thanks to the mega-vendors and forced OEM adoption.

There is a psychology that goes along with websites that says, "different is usually better". If your customers visit five websites, four of which look pretty much alike and the fifth, yours, looks different, they'll wonder why. It will register, even if only on a subconscious level. If the design and content are compelling, you have an advantage.

 

Why

In industries such as automotive where the differences in price are measured in small percentage points, the "why" factor comes into play. Most have a page that's a variation of "Why Buy from Us" on their website but it gets very few visitors. It takes more than that to get a consumer to consider you over a competitor.

This is one of the many places where social media comes into play. When are people most likely to click on the social media buttons on your website? When they're done. In other words, they might visit a handful of websites and put in leads at two or three of them. Once they're done, there's a decent chance that they'll click through to your social media presence to see what you're up to from the human side of the company. What will they see? Will it be a ton of ads? Will it be a ton of "look at me" posts?

What if they saw your community involvement? What if they saw your happy customers? What if they saw the local community engaging with you and you engaging back with them? They might look at you and two of your competitors during the course of their browsing. Will you be the most compelling? Does you social media presence give them a good reason to want to buy from you rather than the store down the block that's posting boring or unauthentic content on their social media profiles?

Holistic

In future posts, we'll go into how the holistic method of content marketing can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, but it's important to understand that reasons that it's all tied together. Don't think search, websites, and social. Think where, what, and why.

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Mazda Keys

Content has been the big play for over a year now in the world of marketing. It’s the glue that holds social media marketing and search engine marketing together and it’s becoming so prevalent that the old ways (the ones everyone started using this year) are already starting to become obsolete.

Don’t get me wrong – the techniques themselves still work. The problem is that everyone is starting to get it. The competition level for content marketing at the small business level has gone from non-existent at the beginning of 2013 to hyper-competitive before the end of the year. It’s too easy, too important, and has too many people talking about it for most companies to miss.

Perhaps as bloggers, we did our jobs right. Now, we’re faced with a dilemma – taking it to the next level. Thankfully, the strategy is pretty much the same with an expansion into a two-style mode. By going with this format, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the competition that is starting to catch up to you.

 

Style 1: The Local Content

This is the easy part. For localized small businesses, it’s all about talking to to and about those in the local area in order to build buzz. The concept is this: post content that is enjoyable or useful to your potential customers and they will share it on social media as well as generate an occasional link or two.

It’s the style that everyone’s starting to get. Just in the automotive industry alone, we’re seeing multiple dealers in the same city making videos about how to change a Mazda key fob battery, writing articles about their first shipment of Chevy Corvettes, and bringing in local celebrities for interviews and discussions.

Just because so many are starting to do it doesn’t mean that you should stop. It means that you have to step up your game. You have to make your content better, get more people to share it, and post more often than your competitors. It means that you have to work harder than everyone else, but that’s one of the things that are necessary in order to stay ahead of the game.

 

Style 2: The Broader Content

The goal with all types of content is to become the authority on your topic. We have known for a while that localized content works, but it’s not able to stand alone anymore in most industries because of the competition level. To make it stand out ahead of the competitors, you need to hit the national arena.

This means that you can no longer just be the local authority. You have to get the type of content out there that can resonate with a broader audience. This is only possible if you’ve already mastered the local content style and you have a strong following for it.

Going broad is harder. It requires that the content have a more general appeal. It means that your local following will share it as well and that their friends and family from the rest of the country or world will see it and find value as well.

It could be reactions to national news about your industry. It could be universal help items that are not localized. It could be great videos, images, or infographics that anyone anywhere in the country can like.

It also requires a bit more professionalism than the localized content. An iPhone video might work for a quick walkaround of a new inventory item, but to get the national appeal, it has to be better made than that.

* * *

This is the type of thing that many people fear. Just when you thought you had localized content mastered, hearing that it won’t be good enough to keep the gap large between you and your competitors in 2014 can be disheartening. However, if you really think about it, every new challenge like this is an opportunity to shine above and beyond them.

Change is good as long as you’re on top of it.

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Very Busy

The worlds of automotive social media and automotive search marketing are converging. We've known this for a while and I've been preparing for the collision in order to help our clients make the most out of the changes. The only thing I wasn't expecting was how tremendously complex it all was going to be.

For the last month, we've been pushing hard to help educate and assist dealers on both fronts, but social media has been my primary focus. Most know that I spent the early part of my career focused almost solely on search but the transition from search to social has been happening for a couple of years now. Today, I'm happy to say that the transition is complete and I'll be discussing more about the merging disciplines over the coming months.

To those who inquired, who were checking to make sure I hadn't fallen off the face of the earth, thank you for your concern and all is well. In fact, it's all very well. I'm continuing to explore new and innovative techniques that dealers can use to enhance their social media presence.

This leads me to the point of this post. I'm looking for participants, those willing to engage in case studies and discussions about the merging search and social marketing future that we all face. It can be dealers or vendors - I'm not picky. I just want to get some people together to bounce off ideas over email, at the upcoming conferences, on Google Hangouts - anything that works to make the industry better at the two most important components of marketing for 2014. If you're interested, contact me or leave a comment below.

The goal is to put out the best educational content available on the subjects. I'm not being completely altruistic with this - the more I learn, the better I can make our products. I've spent the last six years honing my skills in a bubble. Now it's time to take what I've learned and enhance it with what you all know. I look forward to seeing this move forward.

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How to Remove Unacceptable Yelp Reviews

I hear this question frequently from our clients and prospects; “How do we get rid of outrageous reviews that are lies, slander, defamation, or out of bounds with the guidelines of Yelp?” Answer? Submit a request for removal especially if the review isn’t compliant with the Yelp guidelines.

At least a third of the dealers I speak with come across bitter with just one mention of Yelp.  Some of them might be throwing down their own gavel as Yelp is back on court over alleged extortion and review manipulating. Angry Business Owners Appeal Yelp Ruling Over Alleged Extortion  

Yelp says “Inappropriate content: Colorful language and imagery is fine, but there's no need for threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, and other displays of bigotry.”

What is even more disturbing is when you engage a disgruntled Yelper (could be a competitor smearing) to resolve the issue and all you get is another visceral low blow or flat out silence. Reacting with an attack against the offender is natural, but I would advise dealers to step back, stop defending it, and consider a request for removal rather than engaging in a nasty verbal salsa with a bitter enemy. Search engines love the dirt and the more you respond to belligerence, the higher the debate will rank for your dealership name.

One of our clients once asked, “Can you help me get a Yelp review removed?” He shared his feelings of defeat; “The owner of the dealership has been personally attacked and it’s destroying our reputation and we’re losing business.”

I told him the review was ludicrous; falling within Yelp’s inappropriate content guideline and he didn’t have to tolerate it. Here’s the Yelp review that was on the web for only a month and did significant brand damage.

The Consumer Yelp Review

The removal submission to Yelp from our client

The "review" that XXX has left our dealership is not only extremely far from an accurate account of her attempted transaction, but is a blatantly published defamation of our dealership’s character and slander. We are a locally owned business for over 30 years and our owner, XXX, is a former recipient of the "XXXX" award. For "XXX" to name my salesperson and call him a "Racist Idiot" is nothing short of slander and is an embarrassment to my salesperson and his family and to YELP for allowing such verbal abuse to occur on your site. [Dealer Name] works extremely hard in encouraging our customers to leave reviews on sites such as YELP because of the relevancy and authenticity of your reviews. However, this particular review is neither authentic or relevant and most of all it is defamation and slander. XXX other reviews also need looked at. They are also racially motivated and distasteful. We ask that you please remove this immediately.

Response from Yelp within 24 hours

Hi,

We have removed the review by XXXXX because it falls outside our Content Guidelines. Please keep in mind that if the user chooses to edit their review so that it falls within our guidelines, we will allow it to remain on the site.

Regards,
XXXX
Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

Yelp Official Blog | http://officialblog.yelp.com
Yelp Frequently Asked Questions | http://www.yelp.com/faq
Yelp for Business Owners | https://biz.yelp.com

A huge victory for our client considering Yelp is not easily swayed in favor of the dealer. With dealers becoming more and more aware that Yelp dominates the mobile experience for iPhone users, now is the time to make the move to get content removed. If you’re not challenging defamatory reviews and instead, engaging in war, that’s like throwing cotton balls at a moving train.

If you’re wondering if filtered reviews on your Yelp listing are unjust and ludicrous, check out The Definitive Guide To Avoid the Yelp Review Filter

Yelp can help you submit your removal request

Jerry Hart
President
eReputationBUILDER

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It Takes a Village to Raise a Social Media Presence

It Takes a Village

This is the first (and most likely last) time that I will use a Hillary Clinton book title as the concept for a blog post. I didn't read the book, but the concept is definitely applicable in social media.

I was speaking to a potential client yesterday who was telling me some of their challenges with social media. The main challenge they were having was in coming up with interesting content to post that was associated with business. As a car dealer, they had plenty of pictures of cars to post, but they weren't very active in the local community and the person in charge of social media didn't consider herself to be creative.

"Does anyone at the dealership do anything interesting?" It was a simple question that sparked a 2 minute conversation that turned into an hour-long brainstorming session. At the end, we came to the conclusion that she worked at the most interesting dealership in the world and didn't know it.

The parts manage was in a country band that played at the local steak house saloon on Saturday nights. They had a customer that came in 5-days a week to get what he considered to be the best coffee in town with their fancy cappuccino machine in the service waiting area. A sales person was a little league baseball coach that recruited the top talent in town to take to tournaments across the country.

Last night, she did some further research and found even more interesting things. The land on which the dealership was built turned out to have a rich and somewhat controversial history. One of the secretaries had a son who was likely going to he starting for the state university basketball team the following year. Another sales person had a photography business on the side where people posed in or around classic cars.

Everyone gets into a rut. We try our best to be creative and to come up with interesting things to post to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+, but sometimes it seems that you're posting the same things over and over again. Finding images is easy. Unfortunately, social media needs to be richer, more robust. It's not just about pieces of content. It's about stories that affect the local area and the people that make up your business, customer base, and community.

You don't have to live on social media island. There are people around you who can inspire you, spark an idea, or become the subject of content that can all be tied back to the business itself. The difference between being isolated on social media and having a flood of potential content is often about getting up from your desk and talking to people. In essence, the key to successful social media is often as simple as being social in the real world and applying it to your business presence.

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Automotive Content Flow from Creation to Tweet

Content Flow

If there’s one major flaw with the way that many businesses use automation tools, it’s that they’re not able to properly control the flow of content from its longest form down to it’s shortest form. This is unfortunate because using RSS feeds to post to Facebook and Twitter from a blog, for example, doesn’t save much time at all but minimizes the effectiveness of the networks.

It’s all about flow. It’s about taking advantage of the strengths of the various networks will not falling into the traps that each allows.

Let’s take a look at an example of content flow. In this case, we’re going to work it down from a standard piece of website content rather than a blog post or YouTube video. Those are easier. If you can master the creative elements of promoting standard website content, the other types of content will be a piece of cake.

Original content

Original Content

This is where it all starts. Here, we see a sales special. It’s not the type of content that any social media pro in his or her right mind would ever consider promoting through social media. They wouldn’t want to be accused of spamming. They wouldn’t want to turn of their fans. They would believe in most cases that this is the type of content that had no chance of resonating with a social media audience.

They would be wrong.

There is tons of content on a business website that has absolutely no chance of seeing the light of day on social media, but there are other types of content that simply need a little bit of playfulness, cleverness, and creativity to tweak them into an appropriate position. Take a look at that special. Do you see anything that you would be able to latch onto if you were trying to promote it on social media?

Put it on Facebook and Google+

Hinderer Honda Starbucks

If you were to say something to the effect of, “Take a look at our amazing specials – Honda Civic is only $8 a day,” you would watch your posts get reported, blocked, and hidden into oblivion. You would actually do algorithmic damage to your posts and your profile in general.

If, however, you made it clever and worded it in a way that people would be able to relate to, you could still get the message out with a reduced risk of negative sentiment. In the case above, the post had a modest 16 likes and the link was clicked 32 times. It’s not a home run compared to some other examples out there, but it’s a realistic expectation that a local business could achieve with the right techniques.

Be creative. Branch out. Put a little bit of effort into it. It doesn’t take a lot – this particular campaign took about 2 minutes to craft and post. It’s worth the time spent.

Put it on Twitter and Pinterest

Hinderer Honda Tweet

This is both the easiest and hardest part. It’s the easiest because it’s only 140 characters. It’s the hardest because you have to take full advantage of those 140 characters and craft it in the most appropriate way possible.

On both Twitter and Pinterest, getting people’s attention is the key. The firehose on both networks has such a wide stream today that there’s a good chance the majority of your messages are being seen by very few people. This is where hashtags come into play and it’s the main reason that automating Tweets for anything important is one of the silliest activities out there.

A Tweet takes seconds, literally. Is it worth making something almost completely ineffective for the sake of saving seconds?

In the example above, the post was highlighted with a couple of different hashtags. The first is relatively worthless other than getting people’s attention from within their feed. The mind is trained to look for things unconsciously that are important to that person, so if someone is looking for a car and is considering a Honda Civic, they don’t have to read it consciously for it to catch their eye.

The second is one of the hooks. As Twitter search and hashtag use continue to grow exponentially (much faster than the site itself), it’s important to have at least one keyword that can attract your targets. In this case, the Tweet is targeting the local state. It could have as easily been a city, a lifestyle (#green, #economical), or even something slightly off topic (#coffee).

The most important part about Twitter (but not Pinterest) is that you can take a message and repost it over time. It’s good to come up with a couple of different variations, but for the most part as long as you’re spreading out the repetition of the message, you can reach more people without spamming them.

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Applying proper content flow strategies allows you to get the most out of the content that you produce as well as the content that’s already on your website. Crafting the messages around the mediums is harder than just putting them into a feed machine, but the results can be exponentially improved as a result. That’s not to say that nothing should be automated. It’s just that important things should not be.

Flow” image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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As JD and others have pointed out, the almighty Google is altering the game with Penguin 2.0.  No longer are the 'Top Tier" SEO experts going to be able to manipulate search in the way they used to.  We are now, more than ever, going to have to come up with "fresh" content.  Notice I said fresh CONTENT, not necessarily fresh TOPICS.  Let's use our sheer numbers and help each other out.  I don't know about the rest of you, but one of the challenges of unique content is not one of creativity, but consistency.  I have the greatest ideas for blog content.....for about one week.  Then, like my desire to excercise and eat right, it fades.  I know that everyone on this site has plenty of time to set around and inspire the right side of your brain to come up with new topics, right? 

No.

Here's where this site comes in.  For those who wish to participate, here's what I'm asking.

As a reply to this post, list as many content subjects as you can.

If we get some good participation, we could all have a healthy list of ideas.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. —Oliver Wendell Holmes

Just topics, please.

Ex.

5 Easy things to do to your trade in to increase it's value!

The Top 3 Reasons to use Synthetic Motor Oil!

5 Things your Company can do for your community!

Danny Benites

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Unify Your Content, Search, and Social Strategies

Content Search Social

It's very possible that I'm beating a dead horse on this one, but I'd rather beat a dead one than a live one.

If you hear me speak or read my writing, you'll know that I've been pushing this concept for a long time. This is the last plea I'll be making. It's the eleventh hour, so everything I post going forward on the subject will be tips for those who have decided to do it the right way. No more heartfelt pleas - either you get it or you don't.

Social media is embracing search as a primary missing piece to the time-domination puzzle. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest - they all realize that being integrated properly with external search while allowing for robust search features of their own is the key to taking the tremendous amounts of personal data they have on us all and turning it into something useful for both users as well as the all-important advertisers and data-collection services.

Google and Bing are acutely aware that they have all of the outside data that they need. The only part that's been missing to some degree for a decade has been true human sentiment on a personal level that is not tainted by artificial inflation techniques. Finding that balance between understanding what the people really feel versus being manipulated by blackhat techniques is the last victory they need to make their search engines nearly perfect which is why both have been trying for three years now to properly integrate social signals into their search ranking algorithms.

Content is the binding force in all of this. It's very similar to the food that a restaurant serves. From a search perspective, understanding the way that food at a restaurant makes them feel is a key to getting a true understanding of consumer sentiment surrounding that restaurant. In other words, the things that people are saying about the food helps the search engines know which restaurants to recommend. From a social perspective, they need to be able to gather all of the data about the restaurants themselves. They know individual sentiment. Now they need to combine it to form conclusions.

This is the bare essence of the merging of search and social around the hub of content. Businesses that are creating high-quality content and using the right strategies to get this content out there from a search and social perspective are the ones that will win in the long run. Before anyone starts saying that they need strategies that work today, it should be noted that marketing is often like driving a car (warning - it's another analogy so brace yourself). You don't look at the road directly in front of the bumper on your vehicle to steer the car. You look down the road. You see what's happening beside you, behind you, and in the distance in front of you. When you're barreling down the highway and you see brake lights ahead, you put your foot on your own brakes.

The same holds true for internet marketing. Knowing that search and social are hovering around content as the key to both disciplines and uniting all three around a unified strategy is what we're seeing on the highway ahead. As a result, we're able to drive the road that we're on more efficiently, at a higher rate of speed, and with the knowledge that we're going to be able to make turns or hit the brakes before getting into an accident. This is the strategy that helped us be preparing for the Google Penguin update years before it was ever introduced. It is the strategy that helped us avoid the pitfalls of artificial page like inflation on Facebook well before it became more of a detriment than a benefit.

This is what's coming. Are your eyes on the road ahead or are you peering over your bumper to look at the road conditions right now?

Here's an infographic by Marketing Adept that gives a decent breakdown of what's happening now. Knowing that can help you look to the future.

Content Search Social Infographic

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The rise of content marketing and more importantly the focus that Google and Bing have put on website content engagement have changed the way we view the types of content we put on our websites. It’s no longer sufficient to focus all of your content on the basic search engine principles of keyword targeting. You have to have content on your domain that draws in the important social signals and time spent on site.

In other words, your websites have to be interesting to a wider range of people, not just those specifically looking for your products and services.

There are several types of content that go on websites, but the two we’re going to be talking about here are the two most important content additions. There is basic content that is relatively stagnant on your website; product descriptions and inventory items rarely have to change, for example. There are other types of regular content additions that somewhat influential as well such as press releases and service announcements. Those are the content types that we won’t be covering.

What we will be covering are often called different things depending on who is describing them, but I look at them as conversion content and conversation content. These are the pages that should be getting added to your website regularly and on an ongoing basis. If you can only focus on one major discipline when it comes to enhancing your website traffic, search rankings, and social significance, creating these two types of content would be the activity that I would wholeheartedly recommend at the top of the activity list.

 

Conversion Content

For those marketing a website, this is arguably the easiest to understand from a needs basis. This is the type of content that should have an immediate impact. It’s usually geographically targeted and almost always product focused, so there’s a clear understanding how it can help.

For example, a Honda dealer in Irvine, CA, should be ranking well in Google for the various Irvine searches with their homepage alone, but they may need to create a content page called, “2013 Honda Accord Santa Ana” to have a landing page geared towards those in neighboring Santa Ana.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and as a general rule anything that’s too easy is probably the wrong way to do it in the eyes of Google. In other words, automatically generating dozens, hundreds, even thousands of pages to hit the multitude of targets is the wrong way to do it. The practice is relatively common, so common that it often takes Google time to catch those who are doing it, but in the end they catch everyone. This type of blackhat conversion content creation leads to destruction (i.e. de-indexing or even a penalty).

Real conversion content creation is a manual effort, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be tedious or time-consuming. The page mentioned above should only take 10-20 minutes to create depending on what content management system is being used. It’s not rocket science nor does anyone need a PhD in SEO to make it happen. They simply need to create a page with lead generating tools on it that has visuals in the form of images and/or videos of the product and content describing it. The content itself doesn’t have to be long – a paragraph or two works though a little more would be better – and it can still be conversational.

There is no need to make the content keyword rich. As long as the title tag is set up properly and the content mentions the target keywords somewhere in there, that should be enough to start targeting the keyword appropriately. When you try too hard to get the keyword, you often make it harder to get.

 

Conversation Content

This is the type of content that I often have the hardest time convincing people to build. It goes against the nature of old-school marketing that has been embedded in most of us. In essence, conversational content has nothing to do with converting a visitor into a lead or a sale. It’s often whimsical, only loosely relevant, and seems to bring no value other than to entertain or educate.

Today, it’s the content that can have the biggest impact on search and social marketing. With conversation content, the goal is clear as day written in its name. You want conversations. You want people talking about the content on social media. You want people saving the content in their bookmarks. You want people talking to you about the content in the form of comments.

The image above was taken from a conversational piece of content titled “7 Charming Honda Vintage Ads”. There is very little chance that a Honda dealer is going to have any of the cars being advertised on the page. The page is not designed to sell anything, in fact. It’s designed to get shared. It’s designed for people to see it on social media sites, click through, and reminisce.

Most business website pages outside of the blog are not shareable. Sure, they might have social sharing buttons on them, but nobody is going to share an inventory details page of a 2009 Honda Civic. They aren’t going to share a service appointment page, a specials page, or an about us page. People share content that they find interesting.

Just as you want to be in the conversation with pages on your website, people want to share content on social media that can spark conversations. A page like this one will encourage people to share on their social networks because it’s interesting to see things such as vintage ads.

Social signals don’t just help with social media popularity. They don’t just help with the search rankings of a particular page. Their most important influence is that they help a domain rank better. The more pages that are on a domain that are getting shared well on social sites, the better chance they have of ranking for similar keyword terms as well. This dealership might not care about whether it’s ranked for “Vintage Honda Ads” but it certainly wants to rank for “Dallas Honda Dealers”. Social signals through conversation content pages help to this end tremendously.

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As you continue to push the envelope and watch your digital marketing evolve, it’s important to keep in mind that things aren’t always obvious. They’re clear – that much is certain – but the techniques and strategies that have lower adoption rates such as creating the types of content in this article can be the differentiators between your own marketing and the marketing of your competitors. If you’re creating these types of pages and your competitors are not, you have the upper hand. It’s that simple.

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Why Content is the Pinnacle of Online Marketing

There’s a saying in online marketing that has been around for a while. “Content is king.”

The truth is this – before the last year, it really wasn’t. Content has always been important, but it wasn’t until recent updates in Google and Facebook that content took a huge leap from being a portion of search and social marketing to become the actual hub through which search and social marketing flow. Today, marketing starts from content and works its way down versus recent years where content was simply a tool in the marketing strategy.

   

Google, Facebook, Bing, and Twitter are getting smarter every day. They have more brainpower going into figuring out how to stop spammers than the spammers have dedicated into finding new ways to spam. In other words, any tactic that involves practices that aren’t focused on quality can only bring short term benefit and can eventually lead to doing more harm than good. That’s the way that online marketing is heading and that’s a very good thing for both internet surfers as well as honest businesses and marketing agencies.

   

The old days of automated link-building tactics and paid social media promos (other than advertising) are long gone. Marketers can only achieve a true impact from quality content. Thankfully, this means that, in many ways, we’ve reached the end of the road of major strategy changes. That’s right, the practices that go into proper online marketing today are the type that will last for a long time, perhaps indefinitely.

   

It’s a bold statement, but if you think about it, that’s exactly where we are. Sure, there will be opportunities to find better channels, new tools, and make adjustment to different styles, but the end game is upon us. Quality content on and off of a website is the cornerstone of search and social marketing today and will continue into the foreseeable future.

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Let’s Face It. Google Is Search.

Let’s call it what it really is, shall we? Despite efforts by Bing/Yahoo to stay relevant as well as efforts by Facebook and Twitter to enter the search game, there really is only one. For years, I’ve always had to add the caveat when discussing search marketing that “When I say Google, I mean Bing and Yahoo as well.”

I won’t be saying that any more. If we’re talking search, we’re talking Google.

It’s not that the others don’t exist. They do and they’re still somewhat relevant. Millions still use them on a daily basis so they cannot be ignored completely. However, when it comes to making decisions about search marketing, there’s only one algorithm that needs to be taken into account, one traffic source whose numbers should be used to steer the strategy.

The infographic below asks the question of whether or not Google is a monopoly. In reality, that’s not important, though the infographic points to a glaring fact that Google is the leader not only in market share but also in innovation and others, specifically Bing, are always just chasing the leader from a distance. The important takeaway is this: if you want to craft your strategy for search, particularly organic, mobile, and local search, then Google is the only thing to consider. Again, Bing and the other options are still valid, but if you build your strategy around Google, the others will eventually fall into line.

It’s been like that for a while. Google was the first to look at inbound links as a primary ranking factor and the others followed. Google was the first to truly integrate personalization and the others followed. Google was arguably the first to truly integrate social media into their search algorithm through the use of social signals, though in this case the competition wasn’t far behind. It doesn’t matter. Think Google when you’re thinking about your strategy and the rest will fall in line.

Paid search is a different thing altogether and many have found success with the cheaper clicks through other search engines, but even in that case the only way to truly hit a bulk level is through Google. Facebook is making strides in this arena, but they’re still worlds apart.

The funny part of it all is that Google is extremely vulnerable to manipulation, second only to Twitter when it comes to ease. Both rely more heavily on real-time data than the others, which is both their strength and vulnerability.

Here’s the graphic…


Source: Franchise Gator

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This is a topic that has been covered so many times that one might wonder how it keeps popping up. The reality (from a content perspective) is that Facebook posting best practices is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s frustrating to dealers and annoying to bloggers, but at the end of the day there’s one simple truth: whatever worked yesterday may not work today but may work again tomorrow.

That’s Facebook. It’s social media in general from a dealership perspective. There are three dynamics at work and they rarely do more than lightly influence the other two:

  • Facebook and other social media sites are constantly changing. As a result of changes to their algorithms, posting rules, and layout/design/UI, the game is continuously changing for dealers who want to be successful on social media.
  • Users are changing. It’s not just that more people are getting onto social media. The trends of what they like to post, how often they post, and the platforms through which they post are all in constant flux.
  • The world is moving. This is one of the factors that few really take into account but that has a dramatic effect on social media posting strategies. Political sentiment, breaking news, natural disasters, new gadgets, more websites… this list could go on indefinitely. Anything that’s not directly associated with the social media platform or its users can fall into this category.

With so much “posting turmoil” in the strategy tsunami of social media marketing, it’s no wonder that there are major points of confusion. There was a time, for example, when businesses were told not to post on weekends. Today, depending on which study you read and whose advice you take, there is evidence that the weekends are exactly when businesses should be posting more. Go figure.

There have been numerous studies and infographics on the topic, but the one below by Pagemodo does a nice job of giving “JD-Approved” advice on posting times, styles, and frequency. One major point of contention, though, is that the advice to post 2-3 times a day should not be considered a general rule. It all depends on your goals, of course, and unless your goal is strictly branding, this is not the appropriate frequency. Otherwise, the data is sound.

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