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Linking Social Networking For Business

Social Networking for Business does Work! I needed to mention that first to my readers and help them move beyond what may have already become an impossible or even expensive venture. I have been working with social and networking sites over last decade and in the last five years I have been implementing and testing a series of strategic processes and procedures designed and profitable for the Automotive Industry on a local dealer level. Today I want to bring to the attention of those who are or those who desire to utilize Social networking for business and need to see a return.

The process and the message can be the beginning of your success or the start of your failure, our approach to social networking and how we choose to market and/or advertise effectively must not contain any traditional type platforms that we may have had success with in the past. We have entered a new Paradigm and the Rules For Engagement Have Changed, I have monitored other industries, their do's, their don'ts and how they play by the rules inside this new Paradigm and many of us have taken an approach as a consumer…..here is where we go wrong!! The true connection must come through a chosen message to your customers and then that message must be placed everywhere your customers and potential customers are located online.

 

The viral marketing effect or the principals’ of viral marketing, for which many have already experienced success, can be manually implemented to work for your business, connecting your message and moving it across the internet, has become the end result of SCD and ASMN. The processes I have introduced to The Automotive Industry is a science, but a controlled and manageable science that can be taught, monitored and profitable through technology and the human element.

Dr. Harold Elam Jr
Bleecker Automotive Group

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The Easy Way to Master Facebook

Master Facebook

Don’t get me wrong. There’s an extremely complex and effective methodology behind utilizing Facebook as a true marketing and advertising tool that requires some specialized training, a strong sense of creativity, a willingness to experiment, and an unrelenting focus on keeping up with the latest and greatest from experts and Facebook itself.

Then again, there’s a simple way as well. As much as I would love to turn this into a lengthy blog post, I would only be adding fluff. It’s too easy.

Here are the steps:

  1. Post really amazing content on a regular basis
  2. Do NOT post anything that isn’t absolutely amazing just for the sake of getting a post up
  3. Support all of it with Facebook ads
  4. Reply to everything that people post in reply or on your wall

That’s it. Sorry to disappoint those who specialize in social media as a career (I’m one of them) but those are the steps required to make Facebook sing for your business. If you do those steps, you’ll be doing better than literally 99% of your competitors.

With that said, there’s a caveat. This will get you to the top. It won’t keep you there. The truth about Facebook marketing is spreading and more people are starting to get it. This is why there’s hope for people like me. The next 17 steps in the process are much more complicated and result in a stronger Facebook presence designed to drive business. Thankfully, these are the steps to make clients stay ahead of the 99% now as well as next year when 10%-20% start to “get it” with Facebook.

Today, the best way to do it is to hire a professional or to diligently perform the 4 easy steps above.

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Promoting on Pinterest with a Personal Account

Papas Pinterest

For a long time, I assumed that this was a well-known technique, but after talking to some clients I realized that it’s not as common as I thought. If you have a Pinterest account (you should) and you don’t mind using it for business (you might), then you should definitely be mixing in some business-relevant posts.

Here’s the basic idea – your personal Pinterest or other social media accounts may or may not be off limits. It’s totally understandable to not want to mix them with each other. Many people hold their personal accounts as, well, personal, and therefore are unwilling to pollute them with posts about business. There’s nothing wrong with this. If you aren’t one of those people, chances are you don’t use your account very often or you don’t even have an account to begin with. If you have the time and the energy, go ahead and build your very own Pinterest account now. It takes no time at all.

Once you have an account, the fastest way to use it for business is to not use it for business at first. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but if you dive in and start talking business, business, business, you won’t be able to get a following at all. You need a following to make it effective.

The ways to get a large following on Pinterest would encompass at least one full blog post of its own, but the basics are these: be friendly, repin others, follow boards of like-minded people, and post your interests. It could be cars. It could be celebrities. It could be religious. It doesn’t matter, really, as long as its something that at least loosely represents you.

Once you have a following, you can now start pinning stuff from your own website or supporting sites. An example of this is above. In this case, it’s a cool car (I love cars) at an interesting angle that will play well on Pinterest. I gave credit to the business page on which I found the vehicle and added a couple of relevant hashtags to the mix. That’s it!

Pinterest is more than just a social site. It’s also one that transmits strong social signals to Google to be used for ranking in the search algorithm. Most dealers don’t get a lot of pins, Tweets, likes, or Google +1s to their website, so this is a definite bonus. It takes very little time and can be effective to get you that little boost you need.

Did I mention that Pinterest is sort of fun as well? More bonus!

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Facebook Contest

There's a trend on Facebook that simply won't die. Many dealership pages continue to offer giveaways, contests, and even "exclusive" games on Facebook in order to get more fans. It has been proven over and over again to be ineffective at getting targeted, high-quality fans but there seems to be an insistence on continuing it in order to bulk up the numbers.

The problem with this is that it actually hurts a page more than it helps, especially for localized businesses.

The example above demonstrates a "popular" dealership page that has over 250,000 fans. In 14 hours, it's been able to accumulate three likes and likely a handful of clicks, but the important thing to note is that it leads to an app that forces people to like the page in order to play the game and have a chance to win a million dollars or an iPad Mini. This cannot be stated more clearly - you do not want people to like your page because they think they're going to win something or get to play a game. The people that like the page for these reasons will not be engaged. They're not interested in your content. They aren't there to buy a product. They're on you page to try to win something or to play a game.

It's important to understand what this does to the page. The Facebook algorithm is very picky when it comes to presenting business page Facebook posts on news feeds. Every negative action as well as non-actions count against your posts' likelihood to be seen. It's not just the people who hit "hide" or "report" on your posts. They are bad enough, but the people who simply pass over your posts are also counting against your future posts' abilities to be visible on news feeds. Every time someone sees a post and scrolls right passed it without liking, commenting, clicking through, or sharing the post, they are less likely to see future posts... as are their friends.

The Facebook algorithm is designed to reward authenticity. It's made to allow their users to be presented with the content that they are most likely to enjoy, which means that for a business page to "coax" people into liking their page is a localization disaster.

Posts should be real. They should be designed to encourage engagement and to offer people what they expect to see. If they like a business page because they want to see things that the business knows about (such as information about their business and industry) as well as special deals that can come to them as a result of being a fan, then that's exactly what they should be delivered. It's the type of content that will get them more engaged and help them to spread that engagement to their own friends. Using contests or giveaways to bribe people into liking a page demonstrates an obvious misunderstanding of how the algorithm works and how Facebook itself can be useful for a local business.

There is, however, one type of contest or giveaway that can be effective. It's the type that rewards local people for visiting the business itself. These types of giveaways and contests can be golden. It would take a couple of blog posts to go into details about how these types of contests and giveaways work, but the important thing to remember is that a giveaway or contest should be an incentive for physical visits, not to try to accumulate worthless Facebook fans.

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Use LinkedIn To Sell More Cars...

This is a great article I first read a few months ago about how LinkedIn is the best tool used by top sales reps to gain great leads. 

I recently interviewed 54 top salespeople about how they use LinkedIn to research accounts, prospect for leads, and generate sales. All of the study participants sell technology-based products to the IT departments of mid to large size companies.

The study included three types of salespeople: 33% were inside salespeople who sell exclusively over the phone, 41% were outside field reps responsible for acquiring new accounts, and 26% were outside field reps who managed existing client account.

The results suggest there are four basic LinkedIn user classifications:

Enthusiasts: Twenty-five percent of the study participants would be classified as “Enthusiast” LinkedIn users. Enthusiasts have fully developed LinkedIn accounts and use LinkedIn continuously during the day. They believe it is an important tool for generating product interest and promoting their company to potential customers. Enthusiasts were more likely to be outside salespeople responsible for acquiring new accounts. The average Enthusiast has around 700 contacts, and one had over 1200. Half of Enthusiasts have paid for an upgraded LinkedIn subscription at their own expense.

Casual: Forty percent of participants would be classified as “Casual” LinkedIn users who access their account on a regular basis. They consider LinkedIn a useful tool to research and learn more about prospective clients. Casual users have about 250 contacts on average, and all use a free LinkedIn subscription.

Personal: Fifteen percent of participants would be classified as “Personal” LinkedIn users. Their LinkedIn accounts have ample information about their job history and past accomplishments. Their main purpose for having a LinkedIn account is for job-related networking and they rarely, if ever, use LinkedIn for work-related purposes. Personal users averaged around 300 contacts.

Non-Participants: Twenty percent of the salespeople were “Non-Participants.” Non-Participants don’t have a LinkedIn account or their profile contains very little personal information and fewer than 20 contacts. They don’t consider LinkedIn a priority and seldom log-in to their account. These people were more likely to be older than Enthusiasts, and the majority worked in the same position or at the same company for many years.

Here’s how data from the first two groups breaks down:

How Salespeople Use LinkedIn

Contact Types

The composition of contacts varied greatly between Enthusiasts and Casuals. About 30% of Enthusiasts’ contacts were with existing clients, compared to only 5% for Casuals. Over 85% of Enthusiasts indicated they use their LinkedIn account to engage prospective customers during the sales process, while only 20% of Casuals did. Twenty percent of Enthusiasts contacts were prospective customers, on average, whereas it was less than 4% for Casuals. Partners (resellers, consultants, industry influencers, etc.) who affect customer purchasing decisions account for about 28% of contacts for Enthusiasts and roughly 17% of Casuals.

Customer Research

Every Enthusiast and nearly half of Casuals use LinkedIn to find out who they should contact in order to secure customer meetings. Over 90% of Enthusiasts and 65% of Casuals use LinkedIn prior to customer meetings to find out more about the people they will meet. Specifically, they are interested in where they have worked in the past and who they might know in common. Both groups also use LinkedIn extensively to verify a person’s title. About 55% of Enthusiasts and 10% of Casuals use LinkedIn to research their competition. In addition, Enthusiasts mentioned they will monitor a prospective customer’s connections to find out which competitors and salespeople are working on the account. Overall, LinkedIn was rated as a research tool (on a scale of one to five with five being highest) by Enthusiasts at 4.1 and 2.5 by Casuals.

Account Prospecting

Less than 15% of Enthusiasts and none of the Casuals ever reported making an unsolicited initial customer contact directly through a LinkedIn invitation. Nearly all salespeople commented they were fearful this would be perceived negatively by the prospective client. Instead, over 85% of Enthusiasts and 50% of Casuals indicated they would use LinkedIn to ensure they were contacting the right person but make first contact via email. The majority of both Enthusiasts and Casuals indicated their companies supplied better prospecting tools than LinkedIn. Overall, LinkedIn was rated as a prospecting tool by Enthusiasts at 3.8 and 2.1 by Casuals.

Use of Groups

On average, Enthusiasts belong to 12 groups and Casuals to four. Both Enthusiasts and Casuals indicated their main purposes for joining groups was to keep in touch with colleagues they worked with in the past, follow companies of interest, and to improve industry related knowledge or sales-skills. About 40% of Enthusiasts and less than 20% of Casuals responded that they belonged to groups that their prospective customers were part of. No one indicated they had generated an initial customer meeting based upon a group membership.

Existing Client Communication

Seventy percent of Enthusiasts and 18% of Casuals reported they had used LinkedIn to keep existing customers informed about their company’s offerings. Those who did used LinkedIn to send short messages that contained links to press releases, white papers, analyst reports, product announcements, and company produced videos. However, both groups overwhelmingly preferred to use e-mail to stay in touch with existing clients. LinkedIn was rated as an existing client communication by Enthusiasts at 2.1 and 1.5 by Casuals.

LinkedIn Generated Revenue

Over 40 percent of Enthusiasts indicated they have successfully generated revenue based upon LinkedIn-related efforts. Conversely, less than 20 percent of Casuals successfully generated revenue directly attribute to LinkedIn.

Overall, 18% of all survey respondents indicated they have generated additional sales as a direct result of their LinkedIn activities. However, this number is deceiving. In order to truly measure LinkedIn’s effectiveness you must take into account how many salespeople are Enthusiasts, Casuals, Personals, or Non-Participants.

SOURCE: http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/04/top-salespeople-use-linked/

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“Social Media” is without question the most talked about thing in online marketing right now. But how does it apply to your current marketing strategy, and why should you get involved? Social Media is an incredibly powerful way of speaking to your customers. When you enter their Social Network you are entering a circle of trust – these customers want to hear from you.

One of the most time-consuming tasks within social media is finding, reviewing, editing and posting relevant content your fans/followers will deem valuable. Taking the time to consistently post quality content frequently each day is an important factor to building followers and relationships. If I could take a moment of your time and ask if you would “Imagine This”…..

Here at Bleecker Automotive Group we manage the complete development of our pages, applications and functionality of our links, a real-time virtual community of our customers from our DMS, employees, neighbors and friends all collaborating and interacting online in real-time, sharing ideals, photos, comments and more!…..sounds a lot like Facebook, LinkedIn or even Twitter?….Well It’s not, It’s Facebook & Beyond!!

We currently utilize team management solutions, which reduces the time required for this function by implementing content syndication and automatically pulling our tweets, blogs, news streams, Google alerts search term and any RSS feed content directly into a database with headings, links and descriptions. The Bleecker content can be reviewed, edited, grouped and appended to date/time posting schedules that can be exported and immediately uploaded into our social media management system for syndicated posting…..Change The Way You Increase Business, When You Change The Way You Do Business

Not From the Good Doctor

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Investigating

Over the last couple of weeks, my exploration into the world of effective automotive social media has turned more towards pitches and consultations. We’ve spent 9 months now digging deeper than ever before into what constitutes success and we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s pretty simple – if you aren’t selling cars and driving business to the service drive through social media, you’re not doing it right.

The posting strategies that have proven to be successful are a whole other topic that couldn’t fit into a single blog post, so for now I just want to explore the quick and easy methods that I’ve used to tell if a Facebook page is working or not. It comes down to reach, which means that the answer has absolutely, positively nothing to do with fans. I’ll demonstrate that in a moment.

First, let’s take a look at what you want to see on your page or other pages to determine if they’re posts are actually being seen and having an influence on local people on Facebook.

Low Engagement Ratio

All of the examples above have varying levels of likes, many of which are higher than most dealers. This is used to grade how well a page is doing, but it’s a false positive. The real number to look at rather than likes is the number to the right – “talking about this.” You can determine how many people are actually being reached based upon this number. For example, look at the second example from the top. It has a ton of fans so it must be doing well, right? Wrong. With only 67 people talking about it, that means that the vast majority of the “fans” are not seeing the posts at all in their news feeds.

Keep in mind that it’s a small ration of reach. In other words, the bottom example that has 70 people talking about this is reaching much more than the one above it that has 14 people talking about it. As a rough estimate, you can multiple the number of people talking about it by 20 and that’s approximately the number of people being reached by the page in a given week. In other words, the bottom example is reaching around 1400 people per week and the one above it is reaching around 380 per week.

Here are some examples of what pages should look like after a few months or even weeks of doing the right things on their page:

High Engagement Ratio

As you can see, the engagement ratios (determined by dividing the number talking about this with the total number of likes) are much higher in this batch. Even the page at the bottom with a mere 267 likes is talked about by nearly three times as many people as the page above with over 73K fans. The number of people reached by the dealerships’ messages through use Facebook news feeds is much, much higher for these properly managed pages.

It’s not just about how many people you’re reaching. It’s also about where the people you’re reaching live.

Here’s an example of a page that is reaching a lot of people:

Wrong Area

As you can see, they have 2,769 people talking about the posts. They have a good engagement ratio relative to their fans and they’re growing nicely. They are very popular in New York City and reaching more 18-24 year olds than any other demographic. You can easily tell when they started targeting more people with Facebook ads based upon the graph.

It all looks great, right? Well, considering this is a dealership in California, it’s likely that they’re focused on getting nationwide popularity. This is a very bad idea.

I went through 74 people who had liked, shared, or commented on their posts. I could not find a single person engaging with the dealership that was within 30 miles of the store. You cannot easily sell cars to people when you’re targeting the whole country. Is it possible? Sure. Is it much less likely than if you maintain a strong local following and target the people who can actually drive to the dealership and buy a car or get their transmission serviced.

In thirty seconds and two clicks of the button, you can tell very quickly if your Facebook presence is working even without seeing the Facebook Insights. I’ve shown dealers how to dig deeper into their insights to prove it even further, but these two telltale signs are very clear indicators of a page’s presence and how well it is working.

Facebook should be localized. The number of fans is a much less important indicator than the number of people who are actually seeing your posts. The sooner you understand the way that Facebook marketing truly works, the easier it will be for you to find success and start selling cars as a result.

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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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http://www.makemoneymondays.net
http://www.dealersynergy.com

Make Money Mondays With Sean V. Bradley - "Twitter Jacking"

You will be shocked to find out that you can convert your competition's clients and prospects to yours by "Twitter Jacking". Thats right you can use Twitter to sell cars! 

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There's an exciting thing that can happen when you first start advertising on social media. The organic measures of exposure are quickly fading away, so when you get that first boost of exposure as a result of spending very little money, it can become addicting.

It's a trap. Overexposing at the wrong time to the wrong people can prevent you from being able to reach the right people in the future, particularly on Facebook. As I've mentioned many times, social advertising is very different from other forms of online advertising as the performance of the content being promoted has a dramatic and often instant impact on subsequent posts.

In other words, done wrong, you can do real damage.

The story of the tortoise and the hare is one that few want to hear. They don't want their advertising to resemble that of a slow tortoise in any way, shape, or form. However, the reality is that it's the best way to reach the most people in the long term as well as in the short term. Look at these statistics:

As with nearly every attempt at social media, there's a quick spike. Just about everyone who is not using advertising in their social media is having a hard time truly reaching anyone, particularly at the local level. Even with a strategy grounded in consistency, there is still the initial spike and it's almost always a noticeable difference.

The problem is that with many of the pages I check out that are using social media advertising, the view is much different. It's high peaks and low valleys. The overall reach early on is great. The problem is that the spikes are damaging. There's no consistent growth of active fans. There's no steady engagement being built up. It's happening all at once.

There are plenty of reasons why slow and steady after the initial burst is preferable to spikes and low points, but the biggest reason is that the overall number of people reached is much, much higher when it's done with a sound steady strategy. It's not easy to see because Facebook doesn't offer the proper tracking and because it's somewhat counter-intuitive, but once you really dive in and see what's happening it makes sense.

You see, the 10,000 people reached one week are not the same 10,000 people reached the following week. Sure, there are plenty of people (if you're doing it right) who see most of the things you post, but a consistent strategy aimed at spreading out the reach is much more effective at reaching the masses. Facebook insights don't portray this properly which is why you see so many who throw money at Facebook to see the big spikes. It feels like you're reaching more people that way, but you're not.

The only time there should be spikes is when there's something extremely important to get exposed. These should be rare. Sure, there's always something really important going on - the big sale, a new model rolling out, incentives, etc. - but it has to be social gold as well a being important. Otherwise, standard promotion will do the trick.

Unfortunately, it's very easy based on the fallacies in Facebook Insights for a company to demonstrate their effectiveness using inflated numbers. The biggest problem is that it cannot be sustained that way. Social media advertising is the easiest thing to do. It's also the easiest thing to do wrong.

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Article originally appeared on Soshable.

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As Facebook continues its unofficial quest to make the platform pay to play and with Twitter quickly following in those footsteps, many are looking towards advertising as the most important component, but they would be wrong. Others who sell their products would say that strategy can overcome the need to play, but they would be incorrect as well. It’s the third component that plays in both of the other two realms that really makes up about half of the equation.

Social media marketing for the automotive industry is 2 parts content, 1 part strategy, and 1 part spend. There was a time not too long ago that it was even more prominent, but modern social media requires businesses to apply all three in order to have a winning combination.

Content is the beginning. You have to have a nice array of content to post on your social profiles, particularly on Facebook. Twitter has a never-ending flow of content bombarding you every day in the form of the blogs you read, the news that presents itself, random thoughts that make for good Tweets, and random pictures that you take or that you find on the internet. Pinterest is quickly becoming more about search than anything else and Google+ is failing in its mission to be anything more than a search engine tool. This leaves Facebook as the lone component that requires full effort in order to find the appropriate content.

Strategy must be applied once the content is gathered. Some have the time and resources to accumulate a strong pool of content and can plan out much of what they’ll post on Facebook ahead of time. Others must take what they can find in the limited time they have to find it every day or every week. Either way, a proper strategy that plays to both the algorithm as well as the expectations of the fans must be integrated in order to deliver the right content at the right time.

Advertising is the third component. It’s the trap. It’s the aspect of Facebook that seems so easy in the beginning but that can be butchered very quickly to the point that you can no longer effectively advertise. Here’s what happens…

You start off and see the “Boost Post” button on something that you just put up on the page. You click it and see that for $15, you can expose your content to thousands of people. Heck, you can probably reach a couple thousand people by spending $5 if your page is doing pretty well already. You give it a shot and, voila! Your post gets more exposure, more reach, and more engagement than anything you’ve posted in the past. You do the math and you start boosting other posts. It’s all good stuff.

One day, you see that your boosting numbers look different. Rather than spending $5 and reaching 1200-1700 people like you did a couple days before, you see that the same money now only buys you 500-950 views. You might do it or you might even bump it up to $10 for this post. Either way, you hope that it’s just a temporary drop because you’ve been telling everyone how awesome you are at Facebook.

A couple of weeks later, your heart sinks when you see something like the example below. This is a Facebook page that has 1700 fans that we took over recently. They didn’t do anything wrong, really. They simply didn’t go through the steps and monitor their EdgeRank properly to prevent this type of dip from happening. In short, Facebook and this page’s fans have spoken. They were exposed to the wrong content at the wrong times and it ate away at their potential to use Facebook ads.

Thankfully, it can be fixed. It requires content. Great content. Facebook advertising is different from other types of advertising in that the sentiment towards the ads has a tremendous effect on the potential reach and ROI on future ads. If you advertise something that gets a lot of negative feedback, it will cost more to advertise your next few posts. The ads are tied in directly with the organic algorithm. With Google, you can optimize your way to the top of you can buy your way to the top. On Facebook, there’s no distinction between advertised posts and organic posts. Just because you pay doesn’t mean that your posts will be seen.

With the right strategy, properly managed advertising, and a ton of great content, you can master the art and science of social advertising. With any single portion missing, there’s a good chance that you can do more harm than good.

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Originally posted on automotivesocialmedia.com.

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Local Facts

If there’s one thing that gets under my skin the most about local businesses on social media, it’s that they rarely take advantage of one of the most important types of posts: local facts. It’s a low-hanging fruit that is completely missed by most.

It starts with having a local following and fan base, of course, but if your page is in what we like to call stage 2, then local facts are an easy way to get people talking to your and about you. It’s one of the most important tools in our arsenal that we use to promote clients but it doesn’t take a team of social media specialists to make it happen. You can do it very easily on your own.

In the example above, you see this Long Beach Chevy dealer has a post up about an interesting fact for the Long Beach area. Someone saw it in their news feed, recognized it, then tagged their friend in a comment. The friend saw the post as a result and commented as well. He recognized the house in this case… it was his neighbor!

The individual interaction has an exceptional algorithmic effect on Facebook. Whenever anyone likes, comments, or shares a post, it has an opportunity to be seen by that person’s friends. When something like this happens where two friends are having an exchange on the post, the chances of their individual friends seeing the post increases, of course, but the chances of their shared friends seeing it shoot up exponentially. Once one of those friends like the post, now it’s very likely that their entire shared circle of friends will see the post.

This is a great thing because chances are very high that the majority of the people within this circle are within the market area of the dealership. That’s one of the ways the Facebook algorithm works. It’s one of the easiest ways to get posts like this to be liked by 30 local people and seen by over 1000 locals.

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The Easiest Way to Waste Money on Facebook

Looking at the screenshot above of the landing page that Facebook took me to when I clicked on Dodge’s advertisement in the sidebar, one might believe everything was in order. It’s not exceptionally attractive and definitely offers way too many options to be a strong landing page from a social media campaign, but at least it’s pretty compelling. The clear call to action – get a quote. There’s a payment offer for those who want such things. There’s a financing term offer for those who like 0%. There’s a cash back offer for those who want to pay less.

One might ask, “What’s the problem?”

Poor landing page layout aside, there was one big problem with the landing page. It’s about a Dodge Avenger. The ad that I clicked can be seen to the right. I wanted to look at deals for a Dodge Charger. That’s what I was promised. That’s not what I got.

Everyone makes mistakes and other than a few hiccups in recent years, Chrysler has done a pretty good job at staying aggressive on social media. This is the type of mistake that can cost money. It’s the type of mistake that can cost customers. There was no easy way for me to get to what I was promised, namely information about deals on Dodge Chargers that were associated with the big Dodge Event.

If you run ads on Facebook, test, check, recheck, test, click through, verify, and then do it all over again. You often get one opportunity to reach a buyer before they end up looking elsewhere. On social media, this is amplified by the medium itself. Test that the links work on mobile devices. Test that the promise (the ad copy) is what’s delivered when they get to the other side of the click. Otherwise, you’re just blowing through cash and customers.

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Article originally posted on socialnewswatch.com.

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Papas 300

There have been valid business reasons to use hashtags for years. Twitter started it off. Pinterest added to it. Google+ mastered it in many ways. Instagram, Tumblr… the list of social sites on which hashtags are relevant is long. Facebook was the last major holdout. Now that they’ve joined the bandwagon, it’s go time.

Mastering the use of hashtags takes practice, testing, experimenting, and more practice. Thankfully, there are few things you can keep in mind that will make the journey much easier. Here are some basic techniques for using hashtags that should help you find your own strategy pretty easily…

 

Send a Message through Emphasis

This is hands-down the easiest and arguably most effective use of hashtags on a regular basis. It’s also, oddly enough, the most misused or underutilized. In the example above, there are no major hashtags that people search for or click through to on a regular basis. They aren’t designed to market anything in particular. They’re meant to make the words themselves stand out in the text and to enhance the message itself through emphasis.

Notice the words that are hashtagged – affordable, beauty, performance, reliability. There aren’t a whole lot of better words to use in a description of a used Chysler 300. It makes the message stand out in the stream and helps to punctuate the overall message of the post itself.

 

Latch on to Trending Topics

This is the most used technique to use with hashtags and is also arguably the least useful, especially for a local business. Trying to “trend surf” can be dangerous as some businesses have found it. It also means trying to stand out in a very large crowd. However, that doesn’t mean they’re useless.

The easiest way to make them effective is to latch onto national campaigns associated with hashtags that are relevant to business. For example, a Toyota dealer would want some posts with the hashtag #Toyotathon when the event comes around. Local trending hashtags can also be useful. For example, #Travelers and #Golf were both trending in Connecticut at the beginning of the Travelers Championship held in Cromwell, CT.

 

Personalized Hashtags

If you can make this one work, you’re a winner. Many big brands fail miserably at this. They can turn into debacles that allow the trolls of the internet to desecrate a brand and their message. However, it’s worth noting as something to explore when you have something really strong to promote.

The essence is this – make and spread a hashtag that is attached to your brand, then ask (hope) people will use it in a positive fashion. No need to go into the gory details here, but this backfires much more often than it works. Still, businesses will continue to try it and occasionally some of them strike gold.

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Hashtags work. They should not be overused. They should not be utilized for spamming. Put in the proper context, they can be great ways to highlight your message and get it exposed to a wider range of potential customers.

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Be Thankful About Real Life on Social Media

Businesses are starting to get it. They once saw social media as a channel like many others through which they could broadcast their message. When that didn’t work, they shifted to using it as a branding tool only. When that wasn’t effective, they started communicating with people. Bingo! Now, more need to take it to the next level.

We see it all the time on some social media pages. Businesses are posting things to Facebook like pictures of happy customers. They’re answering questions and highlighting things happening at their business. The next step is to be thankful.

Social media in general and Facebook in particular is a perfect place to humanize the business. One of the best things a business can do to humanize itself is to be thankful. There are many things that businesses today can focus on through social media, to highlight as a positive thing. It’s customers. It’s good things that happen to the business, the local community, and the people in it. It’s testimonials and reviews.

The key is to make it social. Making it social takes a little work. It’s not about sharing a link to a review, for example, on Facebook. It’s about expressing true gratitude for the review and personalizing it in a way that makes it stand out.

People are much more appreciative of the effort it takes to highlight a personalized response to a review than they are about a review that was a simple click of a button on a link. More importantly, highlighting reviews in this way is much more visible on news feeds. Many of the review sites have been so blasted out onto Facebook and other social media sites that they’re not even eligible for promotion through Facebook ads.

Social media is about reaching people and allowing people to reach you in return. Being thankful, humble, and appreciative of the good things around you and your business is an effective way of amplifying the reach abilities from both directions – you reaching them and them reaching you. It’s what makes social media so important.

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Speaking in an Empty Room

I was consulting with a potential client yesterday and started looking at their Facebook and Twitter pages. Once a day, every day, they would post a question that had very little to do with anything at all. "What was the last movie you watched?"

Once a day, every day, they wouldn't get a response from anyone. It was awkward in a social media way. There was no engagement. The reason was easy to find - their 3000+ Facebook fans had not been engaged with their page for a long time (meaning that nobody was seeing their posts in their news feeds) and their Twitter profile had 40 followers.

"I've heard you say that questions drive engagement," she told me as I started pointing out the challenges. She was correct - I have said that many times before and it's true. The problem is that questions do not work if nobody is listening and they're not the right way to get people to listen.

I don't envy her. She took over a Facebook page that had been getting updated by RSS feeds for over a year and a Twitter account that was autoposted from Facebook. The remaining followers and fans were spam bots. Nobody was listening. It was an empty room.

There's an old saying that says, "fake it 'til you make it" and that applies in this type of situation. There are still people who will visit the profiles because they show up in search and are linked from the website, so one still has to post quality content during the rebuilding period (stage one in our three stage process), but questions aren't the answer (pun intended). At this stage, it's important to show those who do visit the pages that you're posting quality content, but you don't want to highlight the fact that nobody is paying attention at that point.

Statements, facts, pictures, videos, and occasional links work best at this point. Through ads and engagement-driving posts, you'll be able to get your following back up and engaged. Once that happens and you're on to stage two, it's time to start asking questions again. Until then, avoid them.

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No Cats or Dogs

For a few months now, I’ve been discussing the idea that local businesses should never fall into the trap of trying to be funny or interesting through the use of irrelevant pictures and memes. “No cat or dog pictures” has become a mantra of sorts with the concept being that businesses should try to stand out, not fit into the mix on Facebook and other social media sites.

As some have argued, there are definitely exceptions to the rule. One such exception is when the interesting dog or cat picture is relevant to the business or local area. Here’s an example of an acceptable dog picture post on a business Facebook page:

Acceptable Car or Dog Picture

It’s local – this is the mascot for the school in this Honda dealership’s local area. It’s epic – how often do you see a dog that regal? It’s informative – many in the local area may not realize the fact in the description on the post. The results were that this relatively small Facebook page got decent traction on it with 20 likes and a share. It’s not fantastic, but it’s better to have local flair than to be random with funny pictures.

There’s another exception to the idea that local businesses should not post cat and dog pictures that was pointed out to me the other day: veterinarians and pet stores have every right to do it. In the spirit of being thorough, it had to be said.

Social media marketing is not about being popular. It’s not about getting likes. For local businesses, it’s about reaching people in the community with a business message. To do so, it’s important to play the “Facebook algorithm game” to earn the right for posts to be seen. This is one of the reasons that businesses resort to memes and funny pictures, but they don’t have to. They can find plenty of interesting content closer to home that is both relevant and important to their fans.

Stand out. Don’t fit in.

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A few months ago, we confronted one of our dealers that had our website solution about why they were putting a watermark of their logo on irrelevant pictures and posting them to social media. Apparently, their social media vendor had a theory.

It was a process, really, and it went like this:

  1. Find viral images on sites like Reddit, 9Gag, and Buzzfeed.
  2. Slap the dealership’s logo in the bottom right corner.
  3. Get it liked and shared by hundreds of people around the world.
  4. Sell more cars as a result.

The biggest challenge with a strategy like this (and there are many) is that it hurts the brand’s image. Most people on social media have a nice flood of funny and interesting pictures coming through their feeds. The idea that a dealership needs to fit into this is ridiculous. Dealerships have to stand out.

The goal should not be to take an irrelevant picture and get it exposed to tens of thousands of people scattered around the world in hopes that enough of them are locals who can buy a car. The goal is to take truly local, relevant branding messages and get them exposed to thousands of locals only.

Would you rather your brand be associated with an image of a car nicely placed in front of the dealership with a the sign glowing bright on local people’s news feeds, or would you rather have people in Singapore or Tunisia loving a funny image that has made its rounds around the internet?

Social media isn’t like other marketing venues. On search, it doesn’t hurt to have your message reach people who aren’t in your market. On social media, it does. You want to be as localized as possible. You want a bare minimum of 80% of your fans to be within driving distance to the dealership. When you spread out too far, you are no longer able to post high-quality localized messages that the majority of your fans will recognize and care about.

It’s not realistically possible to keep 100% of your fans localized, but you can get close. In the image to the right, you’ll see that this page is small. It had practically zero fans less than two months ago. There are a couple dozen offshore likes; the only way to avoid this completely would be to manually inspect every new like and kick out those who are not helpful to the cause which is a waste of time. If you keep it over 80% localized (and these guys over 90% local) then the out-of-towners won’t do much damage.

Perhaps the biggest reason that dealers and vendors like bulk is that they follow the misconception that you can only reach fans. There has been this confusion that has followed social media sites, particularly Facebook, since they became marketing venues. The thought is that since this page has hundreds of fans, not tens of thousands of fans, they can’t reach enough people. This misconception is completely opposite of reality.

When someone likes, comments, or shares your post, it has the opportunity to be exposed to their friends in their own news feed. When two people in the same circle of friends like, comment, or share a post, it becomes much more likely that their friends will see it. By “much more likely” I don’t mean twice as likely. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the chances increase exponentially, but it’s a dramatic increase.

For example, Bob likes a post on your Facebook page. His friend, Sally, also likes the same post. They each have around 200 Facebook friends and 30 of them are mutuals between them. Their friends have a chance of seeing your post in their news feed, but their mutual fans have a much greater chance. Now, one of their mutual friends likes that post, and the dominoes start falling. The reach potential from Bob’s first like was small. Once Sally liked it, the reach potential increased. When Tom, their mutual friend, also likes the post, now we’re getting into a post with the potential to be seen by hundreds just from the Bob’s like alone. That doesn’t include the other people who are already seeing your posts. For those people, the potential can continue to grow as well.

This localized expansion of exposure is impossible when you have too many fans from outside of the area. Those people outside of the area hurt the potential for locals to see it because they’re less likely to interact with it. This lack of interaction can damage your posts algorithmically. In other words, by having too many distant fans, you hurt the chances of Bob ever seeing the post in the first place, which means Sally would never have seen it, which means Tom would have never seen it, which means those hundreds of locals who might have seen the post never had the opportunity.

It’s a little confusing. That’s why it’s just easier for dealers and vendors to think along the lines of accumulating as many fans as possible regardless of why they liked the page in the first place or where they actually live. Perhaps the easiest way to understand it is to see the actual reach of the page example above.

These numbers are decent for a page that was reaching nobody less than two months ago. They’re not fantastic; localized reach should be sustainable at five-digits with spikes in the six-digit range at times depending on the area targeted. Still, it’s a good illustration that a properly managed page with hundreds of local fans can still reach thousands of of people within driving distance to the dealership.

The bottom line is this: social media strategies in general and Facebook strategies in particular fall victim to misconceptions about fans and reach. You want to reach locals. You want to post content that is relevant. You want to brand the right way. You don’t need to employ tricks or schemes to become the most popular kid in school. You only need to employ sound strategies to reach potential consumers who can actually make a difference to your bottom line.

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Article originally appeared on AutomotiveSocialMedia.com.

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