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There is a rise in niche-level outsourced social media that is refreshing on one hand and discouraging on the other. It's encouraging because when agencies take the stance of focusing on a single niche such as automotive or entertainment, they are able to build up several resources to make their jobs easier and the clients' social media presence more robust. On the other hand, it allows many to create an assembly-line, one-size-fits-all mentality of automation that can actually hurt the clients.


It's one of my biggest annoyances. When I sift through the hundreds of Facebook and other social media feeds that are attached to the car dealers I follow, I often see repetition. To some extent there's nothing wrong with this; a Ford dealer in Tuscaloosa sharing the same epic image of a 1967 Mustang that a Ford dealer in Boston shared is likely a safe practice, especially if they're not posted at the exact same time. However, when I start seeing feeds that are over half-duplicated with other similar dealers, I cringe.


Where's the personality? Where's the individuality that allows Facebook and other social media sites to pump up the good and dismiss the bad? Certainly the Ford dealer in Tuscaloosa has completely different goals with social media than the Boston dealer and a diverse personality through which their dealership's humanity can shine?


Unfortunately, this simply isn't the case. Many niche social media companies have adopted as much of an assembly-line mentality as possible. Knowing what I know about social media, if I were on the other side of the discussion looking for the right type of social media I would look for certain things out of my social media partner. This is easy for me to say since we do not currently offer a product that matches these criteria; I have the luxury of speaking without bias. This is exactlywhat I would want if I were a dealer...


Seven Criteria for a Social Media Partner

I understand the concepts of scalability, profitability, and building a product that can deliver on the goods without being too cost-prohibitive. I have eliminated those thoughts from this discussion for the sake of describing an ideal situation. No vendor today offers this level of advanced social media marketing in the automotive industry (including us) today. That's a shame because it would help reshape the industry and align goals with results.

  1. Constant Consultation for Both Parties' Sake - Running the various social media profiles that I do, I could not imagine being effective with them if I didn't have intimate knowledge of what was going on at the companies. This isn't something that can be accomplished by a monthly call. It doesn't necessarily require a daily call, either, as that would get annoying, but a weekly touch and an open phone line are absolutely required to make sure that we were taking full advantage of the best component of social media: real time.
  2. Diversity of Personalities - There is no "master plan" in social media that works universally. A Chevy store in Fond du Lac may have a personality that is deeply rooted in the community. They might be one of the centerpieces of the city that plays an important role in cultural growth, education, and bringing the community together. A Honda store in Shreveport might have a completely different approach with different goals for their social media. They might be best served posting 3 times a week instead of twice a day, posting only what is relevant to their fan base that has grown used to seeing service specials advertised to them regularly.
  3. A Budget for Facebook Advertising - Whether through Offers, Sponsored Stories, Events, or straight up Facebook ads, the idea that a page can be maximized without an advertising budget is like saying that a car can drive really fast without gas. I don't care if it's a Lotus - without fuel the only hope to go fast is to drop it out of plane. Facebook offers by far the most cost-effective form of advertising on the internet right now. The majority of vendors who deny this are either uninformed or simply don't want Facebook taking from their chunk of the pie.
  4. Understanding and Focus on the Right Networks - Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are non-negotiable and should never be automated. Dealers and vendors who plug their Twitter into Facebook and call it a day are missing out. Dealers and vendors who use Hootsuite or other tools to keep their Google+ updated have missed the point (this one topic could be a blog post of its own). Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest, and Instagram are important and may fall in line with a strong social media presence. YouTube, Slideshare, and Flickr work well for dealers who are positioned properly with the right content. and a handful of other startups that we're watching are moving up on the list. Pretty much every other social network is fluff at this point. Vendors that say, "Get your dealership on dozens of social networks" are either ignorant or they believe that their clients are ignorant. The concepts of "more is better" and "it can't hurt to try" are absolutely false in social media. I'd debate anyone on this point.
  5. Content that Starts at the Dealership - There is plenty of generic content out there that works pretty well. In the car business, there is no shortage of content. However, the only way to get real success out of posts is to localize them. A picture of a Hyundai concept car from the Geneva Auto Show is good, but a picture of a customer's tricked-out Hyundai that drives on the local streets is much better. Vendors who are not doing point #1 will never be able to accomplish this point.
  6. Search Integration - This is a huge one that nobody is doing properly right now. Nobody. Social signals are quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of search engine optimization. There are those who claim to be helping a dealership's search rankings through social media by getting additional inbound links, but this is a completely different strategy than social signal implementation. Again, this is another blog post waiting to happen, but if there is nothing in the strategy that includes getting high-quality organic social interaction on your website, you don't have a true social signals for search strategy in place.
  7. Reputation Reinforcement through Social Media - This is one that is a "must have" for dealers. Reputation is everything. There are a few vendors who do a great job at reputation management - getting reviews, monitoring them to get the dealership's responses, and redirecting potential negative reviews directly to the dealership to allow for one-on-one conversations. Kudos to them. However, a component that I've seen done well on only the occasional social media presence is reputation reinforcement. It's not just about putting a tab on your Facebook page with a reviews feed. It's about taking the extraordinary reviews and getting them exposed to potential customers proactively.

Social media done properly can be tremendously beneficial to dealerships and just about any business out there that works with consumers. It takes a personal touch from the business that can only be achieved by doing it themselves with strong strategies and proper guidance or through true social media partners that put in the efforts, that stay on top of the trends, and that are willing to get personal and understand the personality of the business instead of blasting out generic content and hoping for the best.

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Nataliya Hora /

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Are you taking advantage of Social Media for Referrals?


Have you ever looked up your dealership at If you have never done this, pause and take a moment to do so now. Now that you have looked up your dealership does it come up with having no strength, no results, or even worse no results showed at all for your dealership? Now ask yourself this question. How can I get my fans on Facebook, Twiiter, and Google+ to share my message and their experiences on their Social Media sites?


I am going to give you a few ideas to get you started and well on your way to pulling in referral business from customers Social Media sites.


Create cool content that your customers will want to share.


There are a plethora of website providers that dealers use to convey their inventory, service department, parts department, and body shop, but sometimes we fall into the category of having just one sales page or product information after another. If you look at your website and it falls into this category, then its time to look into developing some cool content that your customers will be interested in and want to share with their friends online. The following is two types of cool content that will drive an incredible amount of traffic and social mentions, which in-turn you can use to get referrals.


Inforgraphics: Infographics are simply the the presentation of statistics and information in a visually appealing manner, and any dealer has the ability to design one fairly quickly with the help of a such websites like I guarantee your customers will find very interesting and will want to share them on their Social Media sites. Here is a good example of one that I designed last night that a dealer could use to pull in referrals.

 This is a simple infographic that I put together to show you how you could design one quickly and use to pull in referrals. I have seen others that do include more in depth information and this is a good example of what I am talking about.

Videos: Everyone knows how important video has become, so I don’t want to sound like a broken record. I do however want to ask you if you are developing videos that your customers want to share. People love viral videos, so you may want to think about a video that your sales staff can put together that show your customers that even though you’re a car dealership you can have fun too.  Here is a link to a good example of the good people down at Lost Pines Toyota having a good time with a customer who just bought anToyota Tundra. .



Hold a social media contest.


Contests are another way to get people talking about your dealership. It can be something as simple as a weekly contest where a random Twitter user who tweets a particular dealership special to their followers can win a free product. You want to do a more elaborate contest using Facebook where fans can win a major prize by liking your page and sharing your content with their friends.


Whatever you decide to do for a contest, the key is to make sure that the prize will be relevant to your customers. Dealers are all the time giving away TV’s, but the real question is where your fans/followers will stick around after the contest ends.


If you want to increase referrals about your dealership and increase sales in the process, give away your own product! Think about it-if a dealership gives away a free year of service for example and they generate enough buzz with their social networks, then people who didn’t win the free year of service will be so curious about your dealership they will be more apt to come down to your dealership to see what all the buzz is about.


It’s all about planting the seed of “What if I was to win this? That sparks more talk and more sales!


You can increase mentions about your business through Foursquare.


Each and ever dealer has a physical location so why not take advantage of the Foursquare check-ins. As people check-in to your dealership, there is a good chance that they will be sharing your business with their friends on Twitter and Facebook simultaneously.


That kind of buzz can really draw in more new customers through your dealerships door, especially if you tie in some great discounts for the customers that check-in!


Always update your dealerships social profiles with live updates.


Do you ever wonder why more people talk about you on Facebook over Twitter? Is your Twitter feed just regurgitating your Facebook updates? That’s probably the reason why. Customers will follow your dealership on your social networks if you post unique and valuable updates. So if you want your customers to talk about your dealership on Twitter, then start tweeting unique messages. The same goes for Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.


What can you update your social networks about that will get your customers engages? Again, just like content development, you have to think about your target audience and what they would be interested in. Don’t just update your networks with your latest cars or trucks-post updates about your industry. You can also get important feedback from your customers by asking them questions. You might ask them what they want to see from your dealership in regards to your posts.




Now it is your turn to re-evaluate the content that you are posting on your social networks. If your content is not creating mentions and pulling in referrals, maybe its time to change what you are doing and implement some of the points that I have mentioned today.


Jason Parman


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