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Linking up to LinkedIn!

We’ve already covered that it’s important to publicize and promote your business via social media. To date we’ve covered some of the more obvious social media platforms, but today we’re going to cover LinkedIn. While Facebook and Twitter are the mullet of social media (business in the front, party in the back) LinkedIn is pure business.  At its core, LinkedIn is a website for professional networking, but it can also be used to promote your business and brand!

In 2002, LinkedIn was launched by Reid Hoffman in a living room and less than a year later, the site was ready for its official launch on May 5th, 2003. The CEO Jeff Weiner crafted his LinkedIn management team with people who work for important companies such as PayPal, Google, Microsoft and more, this was crucial to the sites success.  Without strong names on the helm, there was no doubt that the site was constructed properly. According to LinkediN’s about us section(http://www.linkedin.com/about-us) the site is the largest professional network in the world and currently has members in over 200 territories and countries in the world. The site has 300 million users (1.7 million of which log in daily) and allows people to network on a professional level. A main profile page is created, which at a base level, reads as your resume. This profile includes a professional summary about yourself, your job history, education and a spot for people to endorse you for the skills you have self-identified.

Another component to LinkedIn are the groups you can join.  Each group has a purpose, whether it be to connect to people in your industry, or share relevant content to a specific culture, the possibilities are endless! Yet another use for LinkedIn, job searching; Companies continuously post job opportunities for both internal and external candidates.  Finding a job posting on LinkedIn is beneficial because you are in a great spot to check out the company before you apply.

To wrap things up, keep in mind that whether you are posting on your main feed or within groups, keep it professional. You want to promote content that is relevant to your company and share other relevant content as well. As with anything, people like credibility and do not want to hear about your company only, BE ENGAGING. LinkedIn is not your typical social network; You have the option to connect with people and message people. However, you are advised not to connect with people you do not know. It’s free to start, so get networking! 

Written By: CB & BL

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Are you feeling more Yellow, Red or Blue today?

If you were thrown off by the title just now I think it is safe to say you have no clue what this article is about, which is great and you are about to learn something! Our social media team found this article while researching content and found it to be very interesting. Social Media Today explained this complex topic in a semi-simple way, and I’m going to simplify it even more, AND it’s extremely important to your brand!  Colors play a huge role in marketing and can help evoke emotions in your customers.  The key is to use the right colors that you feel should be associated with your brand. You do not want your children’s clothing business to be branded in dull mono-tone colors! According to the research in the above article, dull and mono-tone colors (like gray) can make a customer feel blah. No one is going to want to spend time feeling “blah”

It’s all about making colors work for you and your brand. Think about it, there are reasons certain sites draw you in more than others and after a while, people begin to associate a specific color with a specific brand. Most people can pick the “Facebook Blue” out of a line up, wouldn’t it be cool if people could pick your brands color out of a collection? Color is actually a way to communicate without communicating verbally. Using the right colors can make a big impact on how your brand is viewed and the “taste” it leaves in a customers mouth. Customers are 85% more likely to give your brand / company the time of day if they enjoy the colors used in the logo and in-store! Companies that used a consistent color pallet in print, digital marketing and social media had their brand recognized  80% more often then stores that stuck to primary and basic pallets. Those are high percentages! So, according to Social Media Today this color chart below explains emotions based on colors. Do any of these trigger your emotions according to the chart? Check them out. Also, consider what colors could possibly improve your marketing efforts. Best of luck to you with your branding and have an orange day! (Or you know cheerful and confident day)

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Facebook Advertising: Get Over It!

Each and every day I am talking with auto dealers about ways to leverage Internet marketing to promote their dealerships. Most dealers do recognize the importance of search and social media today which means I spend little or no time educating about the importance of these things and more time discussing actual tactics and strategies we are going to utilize.

When it comes to Facebook, just about every dealer agrees they need to marketing there. What’s peculiar though is how each person believes this should be done, and specifically how probably at least 2 (or 3) in 5 dealers are opposed to paid advertising on Facebook.

What is Paid Advertising?

Paid advertising on Facebook is the practice of placing real dollars behind posts and targeting specific Facebook users based on their expressed interests on Facebook. The benefit of doing this is so that you can reach people beyond the reach of your dealership page. In effect, with paid advertising you have the ability to reach just about any Facebook user on the planet, which is nearly 1.5 billion people.

Example of a Sponsored Facebook Post

Example of a Sponsored Facebook Post

Why the Opposition?

As one who used to be opposed to paying to money to reach people on Facebook, I understand why there might be opposition to this. The idea of paying money to advertise in social media always seemed wrong. And if you watch the video below you might really struggle with the idea of doing so.

Mind Shift: From Social to Traditional Media

Maybe the way to overcome this is to not view Facebook as social media and instead a traditional communications medium such as radio or television.

A primary difference between traditional and social media is how the content is published, or better yet who is creating the content. On television the content is created by professionals with serious capital and resources behind it such as equipment, talent, and studios. On Facebook, the majority of content is made by the average user.

A similarity between traditional and social media is that people entertain themselves on both. For a social network to support advertising the way Facebook does, I think it’s fair to say that it becomes more of a traditional medium.

The Misconception

A misconception I see is that it’s a bad thing for brands to have to pay to reach people on Facebook. The social network was designed and intended for people to connect with and communicate with one another. Brands that want to reach people there can can pay, alas advertise” to do so. There is nothing wrong with that. Quite frankly, it’s a terrific advertising strategy.

Facebook Marketing Tips for Auto Dealers

Organic Tips

While paying to advertise on Facebook is a good tactic, this doesn’t mean there is no use in your organic strategy. In fact, if you have your employees share each piece of content published to your page, Facebook will recognize this as content shared from a person and not a brand and thus get your content natural extended reach. For more great tips, check out this infographic from Shortstack called the Facebook Quilt.

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Why Instagram is great for you...

As a dealership it’s important to stay on top of the most current social media trends. The most popular new form of social media is Instagram. This makes total sense considering “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” Instagram (IG) was established in 2010 and has been gaining “followers” ever since. IG is strictly mobile based, and at this time it is not possible to post a photo on via the desktop site, although a quick visit to instagram.com will provide a great photo viewer! Like Facebook and Twitter, IG encourages the use of Hashtags in photo posts. Hashtags allow you to link your photo with anyone else using the same Hashtag. The newest component of IG is the capability to record and share videos as well!

The largest draw to Instagram is the ability to put filters on your photos! With over 15 choices, and the ability to control a blur setting, and contrast, you have total control over your photos!

So, why would a strictly picture based app be good for your business? Well, first off According to Instagram.com/press the site has 200 million monthly users. That is a lot of potential customers! The key though is to make your picture or video captivating. You don’t want people to be scrolling through their IG timeline and glaze right over your picture without engaging with it. Even worse, you wouldn’t want to offend anyone with a photo post!

The same advice we’d give you for any other social media platform rings true with IG; you don’t want to over promote your brand! You want your posts to be a mix of relevant topics and things going on for you and your business. You can accomplish this with behind the scenes photos, or first looks at the latest technology! Keep in mind Instagram is a strictly mobile based app, but it’s super easy to download and sign up. All you need is an e-mail address to make an account. So, get to promoting your brand in a new way today!

For in-depth training on Instagram, give Dealer Synergy a call, we've got some great tips to turn you into an IG Master!

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Are you using SlideShare?

If you aren't, why not? SlideShare provides an opportunity to upload PowerPoint and Keynote slideshow presentations to their website and share them with friends, colleagues and strangers.  I know what you're thinking, but I could just email them the presentation! You could, but what about those "strangers" it may seem obsolete for strangers to find your presentations, but what if they're looking for them?

With SlideShare you can optimize your presentation settings for great SEO! You can upload presentations on why your dealership is better than others around you, or presentations on specific cars you've got on your lot! You could create a presentation outlining what you're looking for in a specific employee and while people search google for jobs in your area, they'd stumble upon your presentation  The possibilities are truly endless!

AND while you're poking around the SlideShare website, look for a slideshow (or two) that might be able to teach you something new! Learning should never stop happening, so take advantage of all the free resources possible!  

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Vine is a video mobile application that leverages the quick sound-byte social media culture in the same way as Instagram, except that its video feature is “micro” and lasts only six seconds that can play on a continuous loop.

Vine is a platform, but the video clips are more often viewed on Twitter or Facebook. The auxiliary features important to a business using vine social media strategies to promote its product or service are a caption field and a hashtag option.

But how can you use it for your Dealership?

  1. Save money and use vine social media marketing tactics in place of a professional video to develop an obscure, creative six-second clip can present a brand’s face to the youthful Vine demographic.
  2. Tease the audience with a new product or service video and audio preview and compel users to take a further look at the dealership's web site.
  3. Use Vine as a new venue for promoting an offer or coupon or monthly special.
  4. A clever fact campaign similar to Nantucket Nectars or Snapple can convert users to website traffic.
  5. Reveal your business at work with a behind-the-scenes glance into your service process or how you obtain your inventory.
  6. Product placement with a brand ambassador in a humorous setting can help it “go viral,” similar to a popular ad campaign.
  7. Like a YouTube How-To video, use Vine to demonstrate your business product or service.
  8. Show users your staff, moments of success, and images that convey the business’ work culture to engage them with the brand identity.
  9. Leverage Vine features: Include the logo for identification, a caption with a website link and a hashtag that enables search.
  10. Target the specific, youthful demographic using Vine, many of them teenagers and young adults, with clever, spontaneous, action footage that expands your business brand image to illustrate it in a new light.

You can Visit DealerSynergy's Vine here - Vine.co/DealerSynergy

The Original Article Is Here - Using Vine

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Are you Spamming Facebook?

Facebook announced recently they are changing their spam algorithm. 

 This is great for the "consumer" but could get tricky for business owners. I've always hated when people "baited" for likes, comments or shares by adding the tagline - "Like if you Agree" or "Share if you Love your Honda," but all of the research I've done has shown that posts that use those bait lines get 4x more engagement then  posts that don't.  WAIT! Before you run to change your social media strategy, you should probably know the new algorithm is designed to mark posts using "engagement baiting" as spam! 

What does that mean?  If Facebook deems your post as spam, they'll remove it from your audience's news feed, in short they won't be seen... and if your post isn't going to be seen, is it worth posting at all?

So how do you circumnavigate this algorithm change, but still get people to engage with your post?  Create engagement worthy posts!  What are engagement worthy posts? That's a topic for another day, come back soon!  

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Science rules in digital marketing.

Social media is a place of vanity. Those of us who use social media often get to see flattering images of just about everything - people, places, food, cars, whatever. Have you ever seen a picture of a friend posted as their new profile picture and thought, "Wow, that's a good picture of them."

One might believe that the same holds true for automotive ads. On websites, it has been widely accepted that real pictures of inventory work better than stock photos, but on social media we have access to the gorgeous pictures that are supplied by the OEMs. Will pretty advertising pictures outperform pictures of live inventory on ads that are sending traffic to the vehicle details pages and search results pages?

We have done a ton of A/B testing over the past few months and we have pretty compelling data, but I want to get the opinion of the community here before posting those results. What do you think?

Here are some of the criteria for a test we ran for a Hyundai client:

  • All ad copy had the same titles, status text, and link description
  • The ads linked to the search results page for new Hyundai vehicles
  • They were targeted at intenders - people within driving distance to the dealership who had indicated they intend to buy a new Hyundai in the next 180 days
  • The only difference was the image

We ran two concurrent campaigns for 1 month. One had beautiful images pulled from the OEM. The other had live inventory images. Here are samples with the branding omitted:

Which type do you think got more clicks to the dealer's website?

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A good social media advertising campaign (or any marketing campaign at all, for that matter) should be guided by science. Testing, monitoring, adjusting, and testing again are the cornerstones of a good marketing strategy.

Much of what we do in the car business comes with assumptions. We do things that we have known from past experience to be successful. Sometimes, we have to take those assumptions and adjust them to modern sentiment, trends, and technologies. Other times we have to take those assumptions and throw them out the window.

Below are 6 images. These images were built to plug into a single Facebook advertising campaign designed to drive traffic to the website. The wording of the ad was the same across the board. The budget was a strong one and the activity was left in the hands of the Facebook algorithm to serve the ads based upon activity and popularity.

Look at the images and come to a conclusion in your mind which one yielded the most clicks to the website. The orange section represents where the logo is. Keep in mind that the wording of the ad was generally geared towards Chevrolet - no model indicators were used in the ad other than the image. Given this limited amount of information, which do you think performed the best and yielded the most clicks to the inventory for the dealership?

1. Red Camaro

2. Tahoe

3. Black Camaro

4. Keys

5. Silverado

6. Corvette

Think you have the right answer? I'll tell you up front - it wasn't even close. The ad that performed the best had more than double the click-thru rate in the first few hours. After it started going, it ended up with more than 3 times the clicks of all of the other images combined.

If you have an answer, like this post and comment with which one you think performed the best in the ads. One name will be drawn from the correct answers before the end of the month. If you're a dealer, you'll get a cool prize in the form of some sort of service from Dealer Authority. If you're a vendor, we'll reward you with a contextual followed link to your website from a PageRank 5 site (great for SEO, and if a dealer wins and would prefer that, they can take it instead).

Who's up for the challenge?

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The new business layout that Facebook will be rolling out is very important to pay attention to. There are a few alterations that will really help manage and stand out on your Facebook page.

The new streamlined look will make it easier for viewers to find the information they want. The right side of the page will have your wall posts, which means at all times on your page the viewer will be able to see your posts. The left side of the page is where the business information will be located.  

The best addition to the new layout will be the addition of 'Pages to Watch' which will allow you to watch other Facebook pages to monitor how and what they are doing. This is a great way to monitor what other dealers do on Facebook and to make sure you are doing enough to stay ahead of your competition.

To read more about this click the link below!

Facebook's New Business Layout Link: ---> Click Here

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Auto Industry Failing to Tap Power of Social Media to Deliver Actionable Sales Leads, Says Report by CMO Council

CMO Council Report Finds Auto Ecosystem Marketers Looking for Better Ways to Integrate Marketing With Sales Generation and Sales Funnel Activities

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 3, 2014) - The auto industry ecosystem should do more to leverage social media as a platform for drivingbusiness leads into sales pipelines, argues a new report by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. Social media is stimulating extensive auto-related conversations and content that create major opportunities to identify likely buyers and engage them based on their preferences and purchase intent, according to the report, which is entitled "Turning Social Feeds Into Business Leads."

Developed in partnership with hoojook, Inc. -- a Silicon Valley social media intelligence company focused on the auto sector -- the new report finds auto industry marketers are in various stages of adopting social marketing strategies and practices. Most see social as a potentially powerful medium for understanding and engaging consumers, but they are early in the development of marketing and business metrics, as well as processes that integrate social media data more effectively in the sales funnel.

"Social represents an important marketing frontier for the automotive industry," said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. "Senior marketers recognize its capacity to deliver actionable, real-time insights that can help drive overall marketing effectiveness. They also see its value as a dynamic channel for influencing brand preference and purchase. Now they need to take the next step by integrating social more directly into the sales funnel and using it as a new platform for delivering qualified leads."

There is plenty of evidence demonstrating the potential of social as a marketing channel across manufacturing brands, dealerships and aftermarket products and services. For example:

  • Thirty-eight (38) percent of consumers say they will consult social media in making their next car purchase.1
  • Twenty-three (23) percent of car buyers say they use social media to communicate their purchase experience.1
  • Eighty-four (84) percent of automotive shoppers are on Facebook, and 24 percent of them have used Facebook as a resource for making their vehicle purchases.1
  • Forty (40) percent of new car purchases over the next 10 years will be made by millennials.2
  • Ninety-four (94) percent of millennial car buyers gather information online.3
  • Clicks on Facebook auto ads climbed from 16 percent to 39 percent between October 2012 and April 2013.1

Based on interviews with senior marketers and executives from auto manufacturers, dealer networks, aftermarket service providers and B2B automotive solutions companies such as Autonation, Costco Auto Program, Nissan, Cadillac, Car MD, KIA, Aspen Marketing Services, Express Oil Change, Mazda, Snap-on, Dealertrack and DME Automotive, the report finds that senior marketers are highly interested in developing and using new systems and processes to leverage social more effectively for lead acquisition and acceleration. However, most say they are only in the very early stages of the process and often express caution about possible brand reputation issues when overtly marketing to individuals on social.

Nonetheless, the report argues that the use of social in combination with natural language processing and big data analytics, along with social's ability to deliver meaningful content and commentary in context, has the potential to make it a highly effective medium for identifying, segmenting and engaging consumers based on preferences and where they are in the purchase cycle.

"The technology now exists to process and analyze social streams -- not only to understand broader consumer attitudes and reputational issues, but also to identify, segment and profile individual consumers based on where they are in the purchase cycle, their preferences and needs, and even psychographic characteristics that influence how they want to engage with brands and service providers," said Shauli Chaudhuri, CEO of hoojook. "Consumers are using social media to find product recommendations, access dealer reviews, voice complaints, display preference, consider peer opinions, capitalize on coupon offers, and engage in ongoing dialogues with their favorite automotive brands. We believe the auto industry will benefit greatly from data-driven analytics to identify potential customers and social content delivery systems that bring automotive OEMs, dealers, aftermarket service providers and other members of the ecosystem closer to the consumers who are looking to make purchases."

The full strategic report is available for download today and features valuable insights, including:

  • Campaigns focused on cars generate much higher consumer engagement and interest than other social media initiatives, such as charitable causes.
  • Reputation management is seen as potentially the most critical aspect of social marketing, with consumer-generated content and commentary having a huge influence on purchasing decisions.
  • Marketers view social as most effective when integrated with other channels and marketing approaches; many view social analytics as an invaluable source of insight for other digital and offline marketing efforts.
  • Facebook is widely regarded as the most powerful social channel for automotive, but marketers say other channels can be more effective, depending on the need and strategy.

To download the report, please visit http://www.cmocouncil.org/r/social-feeds-into-business-leads

Source: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/auto-industry-failing-tap-power-social-media-deliver-actionable-sales-leads-says-report-1884480.htm

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With the increased emphasis on content in social media marketing this year, video has emerged as one of the key areas of focus. Even last year, Forbes was touting the strengths of utilising video content, highlighting the significant response rate of video over other formats. But while the numbers emphasize the considerable benefits, many businesses lack the time, resources and/or budget to create video content. Enter Vine. Vine has changed the way marketing teams look at video, expanding the options and reducing the overheads. If you’ve not considered using Vine in your marketing efforts, here are three reasons why you should re-investigate your options to ensure you're not missing out on a great opportunity:

1. Visual content significantly boosts content marketing success. All the stats show it, the marketing experts support it. Brands can achieve great reach and engagement results with visual content. A recent report from Cisco suggested that video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. A Nielsen report found 64% of marketers expect video to be a key part of their strategic planning moving forward. The logic behind the numbers is clear – information can be communicated faster in video, people are more likely to share video content, a growing number of consumers say product videos make them more confident in a purchase. With video becoming more accessible via SmartPhone, its popularity has increased exponentially, and consumer expectation has also been heightened as a result. Video is a familiar and powerful medium that generally require less time commitment than written content and can generate a strong emotional response in very short exposure time. As noted in this piece from The Guardian ‘if a picture paints 1,000 words, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million’.

2. The barrier for entry is much lower than it once was. It used to be that you’d need to pay a third party video production company to shoot and produce video content. Not anymore. Vine is structured around a low-tech approach – the editing options are limited and there’re no additional filters - you shoot what you want, then send (note: it is possible to access additional editing options by using the VineClient app). The six second limit also means the cost is kept to a minimum, whilst not lugging you with the burden of lengthy production time. Vine is designed to be quick, easy and accessible to all users, from tech experts to kids. And just as Twitter changed the game on communications with its character limit, Vine’s run-time limit re-imagines the approach to video, forcing you to expand your creative thinking on how you’re going to capture attention and convey an intelligent message in such a short amount of time. These constraints have lead to some amazing content, all made for relatively minimal cost. And while the time limit is restrictive, it’s also freeing, knowing that you’re not under obligation to fill minutes or hours of content. You get in, present what you need in it’s most direct form, then get it out. This was simply impossible ten, even five years ago.

3. Brand Vines are shared four-times more than any other online videos. This is the clincher. Not only are Vine videos relatively cheap and easy to make, but they are 400% more likely to be shared than other forms of video content. That’s a pretty compelling case right there. That sharing is not on a limited scale either - nine tweets that include a Vine video are sent every second of every day. A Facebook group that collects the best Vine videos, ‘Best Vines’, now has 19 million likes – that’s more than the population of most countries. The popularity and reach of Vine content cannot be underestimated. One of the major appealing factors of Vine is it only takes seconds to watch – people are more likely to press play knowing that it’ll only take a moment, then they can get on with their day. If you can condense a clever brand message into that six-second time frame, there’s a high chance that it’s going to get seen and shared, spreading your brand message.

There are many examples of brands using Vine creatively and achieving great results (check out ‘Brands on Vine’ for inspiration). Whilst it may seem like video content is beyond the capacity of your business, if you look through the examples, you’ll find many pieces are extremely simple. You still need to create great content, but doing some research and expanding your thinking on what’s possible may lead to you having a ‘light bulb’ moment for a Vine piece. And even if you try it and it doesn’t pan out, it’s not going to blow your budget. Vine offers great opportunity for branded content and is a platform that all companies with a social media presence should consider using. Who knows, you could become the next viral sensation.

Source: http://socialmediatoday.com/adhutchinson/2190466/three-reasons-why-your-business-should-consider-using-vine-2014 

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It's easy for us to take the high road and call it abysmal to utilize the strategy demonstrated below. We would never do it to two dealers, let alone dozens. We also understand the need to make a solution scalable for the sake of profits as we have worked for companies that need to scale to serve hundreds or thousands of dealers. With that said, it is still atrocious and should stop immediately. This gives quality automotive social media marketing companies a bad name when they pull this sort of stuff.

When Brian West from @FusionZONE Automotive, Inc. showed this to me today, I begged him to let me expose it. He cordially allowed me and now I can't really say much about it without spewing more vitriol than I'm used to spewing.

The justification that I've heard for this type of activity is that nobody will like more than one dealership on Facebook. This is a naive statement, especially considering the rise of the pay-to-play social media model, the fact that they're posted at the same time, and sheer silliness of the question itself. Some of the stores for which the question was posted were in south Florida on a day when it was 75 degrees.

Social media is about creating a channel of communication between the dealership and local people. It's about posting relevant messages and exposing those messages to potential customers. It's about participating in the community that is comprised of the very people who can and should be buying cars. To auto-post using an automated, push-button strategy is absolutely worthless.

Here's the post itself. Looking at the dozens of dealers that posted this content led me to realize that this wasn't a mistake. It wasn't a one-off instance. Every piece of content is posted across the board.

This infuriates me. It isn't just lazy and ridiculous. It's sad that dealers are actually paying for this to happen. It doesn't have to be this way.

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Over the last couple of months, I've been researching reputation management companies in and out of the automotive industry. On one hand, I found a couple of shining stars that stood out from the competition. On the other hand, they were only the best but were still missing the boat when it comes to the true potential of what reputation "management" should be.

I've been told that my posts are too long, particularly when I'm in rant-mode, so I'll keep this as brief as possible. Car dealers deserve better. The industry started getting flooded with reputation management services a few years ago and they all migrated to the same basic premise: solicit reviews through emails. While this in itself isn't a bad thing (and I'd debate anyone who thinks it is a bad thing, including anyone at Yelp), it's only a small piece of the puzzle. For a true reputation management solution to work, it needs to have an holistic understanding of how to utilize the components of online reputation as well as a grasp of how to turn a quality reputation into an amazing marketing tool.

Again, I'll try to keep this brief. It will be challenging.

More than Defensive

We've learned that defense wins championships. However, the concept that reputation management is about keeping your review star-ratings high is like saying that a car is about having a place to sit while you travel. Your reputation can do so much more for you than a star-rating just as a car can do so much more for the owner than just act as a moving seat.

The concept of reputation marketing is completely underutilized at best and butchered by some at worst. The first step, getting your star-ratings higher, is good to keep people from dismissing you altogether when searching for you. That part's fine. However, those who click through to the review sites are most likely looking for dirt. They want to know what you've done wrong. They're scanning beyond the good reviews and going straight to the bad ones.

A strong reputation management solution should go on the offensive. Expose the great reviews. When someone is out there talking about how they just bought their fifth vehicle in the last decade from your dealership, your reputation management company should be getting that out to as many people as possible. No, that doesn't mean an automated feed from the review site to your Facebook page that will end up getting seen by 50 people in their news feed and actually read by somewhere between zero and one of them. It takes more effort than that and I haven't seen anyone doing it properly yet at the vendor level.

The Search Component

How in the world has nearly every reputation management firm in the automotive industry missed the tremendous benefits (and potential pitfalls) of utilizing reputation for search engine optimization? When I was at the SXSW convention last year, Google pretty much declared that online reputation and review sites would play a role in organic rankings as well as PPC exposure, yet I haven't heard a peep about it other than a mention on another site noting that Google had taken down an Adwords account because the dealership had a bad reputation.

The two companies that had the best solution that I reviewed both touched on the benefits of reputation from a search perspective but neither have taken the appropriate actions to put together a working strategy, yet. Hopefully, that will be coming, but most in the industry haven't even made the connection despite the clear message from Google.

Botching Social Media

I'm going to keep this part extremely short because I'll start spitting and foaming at the mouth if I talk about it too long. The absolute butchering of dealership social media pages and profiles by reputation management companies and their 2008 social media strategies makes me insane. I want to grab them by the shoulders and force them to listen to reason.

Just because reputation management and social media have a connection doesn't make a RepMan consultant a social media expert. Cars and planes are similar - they're vehicles that get people from point A to point B - but that doesn't mean that having a driver's license gives you the skills to fly a 747. The potential synergies between social media marketing and reputation management are clear, but so far I've seen nothing that even remotely approaches a cohesive and intelligent plan of attack to make them sing in harmony. It's like they took peanut butter, jelly, and bread, tossed them all in a blender and said, "Look, I made a PBJ!"

(wiping foam from mouth now)

Sorry for the Rant

Okay. I'm done. It's been bugging me since NADA and after seeing what I saw last night I had to get it out there. At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of a dealership to train employees on the art of treating customers well. Those of us who have been on the retail side of the car business know that you'll have customers who will burn you no matter how hard you try to please them, but their frequency can be minimized by an appropriate company culture and a well-trained staff.

That's the onus of the dealer. On the vendor side, I'm making it a personal mission to educate reputation management companies on the proper way to position this potentially powerful marketing tool. We deserve better. You deserve better.

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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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2-to-1: The Magic Ratio for Twitter Image Marketing

Epic 1967 Mustang

Let's state this for the record. I am not convinced that using the new image features on Twitter is the best way to go when it comes to marketing your business. It still smells too much like spam and if it's not handled properly it could do more harm than good.

With that said, there are definitely instances when it could do VERY well, particularly when it comes to gaining exposure and picking up more Twitter followers. The key is making sure you're keeping a 2:1 ratio aspect ration for your images.

They are displaying that way regardless of the size or shape of the image when seen in the screen. They can be enlarged, of course, but that's so old school. With the new Twitter feed displaying them inline without a click and the fact that they've added the engagement actions under each post across all of the platforms, it makes sense prevent people from having to click to see the whole picture.

Look at the example below, a tale of two Tweets. As you can see, the top image that I just posted fits perfectly into the frame that Twitter gives us. The one below it forces you to click through to see it. It doesn't matter how compelling the message is, only a handful of people will click to find out what the punchline was. They're much more likely to skip right past it, particularly if they're like the majority who check Twitter on mobile.

Proper Proportions on Tweets

If your images are twice as wide as they are tall or close to that ratio, you'll be able to get the most impact out of your Twitter image marketing. Don't go out and make a bunch of ads at that ratio. Again, this can be abused and you'll turn more people off than ever before if you spam the system (and feeds). Keep it legit and everything will be just fine.

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Hello everyone,

I wanted to reshare this article written for Dealer20.com

The broken process in our industry is sending a templated email with one or two phone calls and then trying the next day.

I call 4x a day, with a video message, a confirmation to that video message, a handwritten card or thank you postcard, a text message and I call 4x a day.

The process closes over 20% of internet traffic.



 

Branding yourself on Youtube is no simple task however Elise has managed to make her videos so popular amongst those in the auto industry that some stores are using them for training purposes. The Youtube Diva is on the cutting edge as far as incorporating the technology available to us today into her sales process. She’s also become quite good at it; being recognized by the likes of Jim Zigler as far back as 2010. She’s now sharing a lot of her insights at automotive industry conferences and of course via her YouTube channel.

In the beginning Elise’s videos were very focused on the vehicle, that the customer stated they were interested in, per the customers email or form filled out on the dealer website. Her videos strained to hold the attention of the prospect in todays busy world. They contained loads of information up front and rounded out at about 5 minutes run time. Elise found that by paring these videos down, to focus on starting that relationship with the customer, she had a lot more success and better customer response. Focus on the customer experience and the personal relationship, more than the vehicle and sales pitch right off the bat. You want to put the customer at ease, show them you are a real person and begin a friendship. Including referrals has also become a trademark of Elise’s videos to customers.

This process has been tried and tested with exceptional success by Elise. Below is her process for contacting new internet leads step-by-step:

1. From your Office Line, Call the customer at about 9am.
a. Tell the customer that you have “Some Great News” and ask for a return call
b. Keep it short and non-specific but give your hours and contact information
c. Let the customer know that if you don’t hear back from them you WILL try them again later today
2. Send your Video email message immediately after your first call attempt.
a. Introduce yourself and your store
b. Tell the customer briefly what you discussed if you got ahold of them and thank them for speaking with you
c. If you left a voicemail then give them your vehicle options that match the customer enquiry e.g. “We have the 2013 Honda Accord available in the red or white today”
d. Give the customer your direct contact information clearly and your hours in store
e. Make it Personal. Use the customers name and be casual and conversational
f. Keep your video under 90 seconds and under 60 seconds is optimal
g. Ask for the Call back and let the customer know that you WILL contact them again if you don’t hear from them.
3. From your Mobile Phone, Call the customer at about 11am.
a. Do NOT leave a message
4. From your Mobile Phone, Call the customer at about 2pm.
a. Again Do NOT leave a message
5. From your Office Line, Call the customer at about 5pm.
a. Leave a Message again with your contact details and hours in store today
b. Ask for the call back and explain that you WILL call the customer back again tomorrow if you do not hear from them before then

Some people may call this borderline harassment, but the simple fact is that the customer has requested this information about a car that interested them on your lot. You may get some negative feedback on occasion however for the most part it is your job to reply to these leads and you aren’t doing your job if you don’t get in touch with the customer.

The goal is to Set an Appointment. You can’t sell a car if you don’t get that customer on the lot. How you begin your relationship with each lead will determine if you get that appointment set. Treat each lead as Elise suggests above and I bet you set more appointments. It’s our job to sell cars and put the numbers on the board sure, but giving the customer the most wonderful car buying experience should also be high on your personal agenda. Once you get the customer on the lot they can fall in love with the car. Videos and that personal touch will build trust and help the customer to fall in love with your store. It also removes the awkward from your first appointment as the customer feels that they have already met you and you can get straight down to it when they arrive.

Source: http://www.dealerelite.net/profiles/blog/show?id=5283893%3ABlogPost%3A395399&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_post

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