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Bonsai Tree

There’s a challenge associated with Facebook advertising that isn’t as important when it comes to Google Adwords or similar advertising platforms. With Adwords, as long as your ads match well with the page that you’re advertising, you can maintain a high quality score and keep your ads working well. On Facebook, there is a much tougher audience than the Google algorithm that you have to win over. With Facebook, your ads fall under the scrutiny of the audience and if they don’t like what you’re advertising, they can hurt your current and future exposure.

When you advertise on Facebook, your posts get much more visibility. If the content that you’re advertising gets a good amount of negative sentiment in the form of reports and hides, it isn’t just the post itself that gets hurt. Your future posts will feel the wrath of the algorithmic damage that you do. It isn’t just negative sentiment that hurts, either. If your post is viewed by many people in their news feed and gets ignored, that too is damaging. When people see your post and don’t engage with it, Facebook’s algorithm recognizes that and will be less likely to present future posts to them.

Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. Facebook ads can be used to help future standard posts find the light of day by accumulating a high percentage of positive engagement. In the balance between conversational and conversion posts, focusing some ad dollars on the former can help the latter appear more prominently in news feeds. One of the easiest ways to do this is to highlight what the company is already doing in the real world – helping in the community.

“It’s important to keep a mix of community posts, conversation posts, and business-relevant posts,” said Louie Baur, social media manager for KPA. “The only thing worse than fan fatigue is spam.”

At first glance, the image above would appear to belong to a horticulture page or perhaps an arboretum. It’s a bonsai plant, something that you don’t see every day on Facebook but interesting enough nonetheless. When people see it in their news feed, there’s a good chance they’ll look at the description to see what the post is all about. That’s when it hits them. This is a post by a car dealer. They are supporting an event in the local community by posting it on their Facebook page. They even sponsored the post.

This does a few things. First, it does the most obvious thing – helps to promote a worthwhile community event. This is the most important thing it does and as long as the intentions are sincere, the benefits will be real. Second, it gives a piece of content that will resonate with a different set of people than standard content posted to the page. They are a car dealership and they post a lot of information about cars, of course. Mixing in a picture of a bonsai and connecting that to the community and the dealership itself is a strong maneuver from a strategic perspective.

Finally, it is a strong aid for future posts. Fans will interact. The beneficiary, in this case a local arboretum, will likely interact. As people like, comment on, and share the content, more local people will see it. This is where the magic can happen. The combination of strong organic interaction, paid views, and viral views can combine for a very powerful little campaign.

In this case, the total cost  of the campaign will be $5. The value of the thousands of views of the message and branding (for both the beneficiary and the business itself) will be priceless.

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Facebook purists will pan this post. They will say that the best way to post to Facebook is to post whatever you’re doing or thinking right now, that “planning” posts is not only insincere but that it undermines the point of Facebook altogether. Their points are valid and noted. Now, let’s talk about reality.

Busy people who have their own social media and potentially the social media profiles of sites and companies with which they work need tools. It’s true that the best way to post to Facebook is through the native interfaces – itself and their mobile app. However, there are drawbacks. You can schedule posts that go on pages through, but you can’t schedule for profiles. Perhaps more importantly, Facebook has an on again, off again glitch with scheduled posts that often “batches” them into an unintended album for any posts that are not at least 24 hours apart. This holds true for mobile image uploads as well. The problem there is that these batched albums cannot be liked, shared, or commented on in the news feed. If they can’t be interacted with in the news feed, they don’t really exist. Nobody clicks through to interact with them.

These are some of the tools that I’ve used in the past or that I’ve seen others use that have shown to be effective. To be effective, they have to be easy to use, formatted properly, displayed well in the news feed, and “play well” with EdgeRank. Keep in mind, EdgeRank can be adjusted based upon interaction. For example, if your posts from a certain tool tend to get more likes than posts with other tools, those future posts from that tool will appear higher in the news feed. The opposite is true as well. If posts from a certain tool are not as effective, they’ll fall further in the feed and become less visible as a result.

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference. Which tools work for you? These work for me and people that I know, but that doesn’t mean they’ll demonstrate the same benefits for your posts. Go with what works. This is only a guide of a handful of suggestions.


Post Planner

This tool is invaluable to me. It allows me to manage my profile as well as my pages from within the Facebook environment because it’s an actual Facebook app. I pay for it and it’s worth every penny. I am able to control branding and links through it – everything I post has a link to my “app” which is a redirect to my blog. My only complaint is that it only works in 5-minute intervals. It would be nice to post at any time but I understand the constraints of the Facebook environment. Given what they had to work with, the end result was amazing.



This isn’t just great for Facebook. It works nicely (maybe even better) for Twitter. I often cross post an image to both networks and this is the only tool I’ve found that handles that properly, showing in both networks as an uploaded image rather than a link. You can find the times that work best for you and set it up to post at different times on different days if you choose. It works chronologically so there’s no need to input times. You add something to the feed and it drops into the next available slot. Moving posts up or down is also relatively easy and there’s even a shuffle option if you’re scheduling a lot ahead of time.



The social media “recipe builder” is nothing short of brilliant. “If this, then that” allows you to connect your social profiles in ways that are changing the lives of users. It makes it simple to integrate so many different types of content that if I had to pick a favorite based upon pure ingenuity, this would be the hands down winner. For example, you can have a recipe that says if you post to Buzzfeed, the post will appear on Facebook as well and here’s how you want it to look. Takes a little while to master but once you get it, nothing will be the same.



If you weren’t one of those who abandoned the service once they went rogue with their terms of service, you’ll be happy to know it’s still a very nice way to put interesting personal posts on Facebook. In fact, it’s my app of choice when posting images that I’m taking from my smartphone. Nothing fixes the low quality of smartphone images like a hipster-friendly filter. Don’t overpost – the app has a tendency to batch and appears lower in the news feed as a result.



Use sparingly. Pinterest has an interesting way of getting batched. If there have been two pins posted to Facebook recently, they show up side by side or one on top of the other with unique interaction buttons. It’s a nice way to mix it up, but it doesn’t appear as well on the news feed. Still worth the occasional post.


What NOT to use to post to Facebook

As with any good list of tips, there needs to be some advice about things to avoid. These are some of the tools that do not work as well on Facebook and should be avoided if the goal is exposure.

  1. Tumblr – For whatever reason, whether it’s just the threat of another addictive social network or a challenge in the coding, Tumblr posts that go on Facebook do not perform well.
  2. Foursquare – The app plays okay with the news feed, but people simply don’t like it as much. Even when images are included, people are less likely to interact with the excellent stalker app as they are when Facebook places integration is used.
  3. Twitter – I’m likely in the minority on this one, but I’m not a fan of any interaction between the two services. I don’t like Tweets that come through on Facebook and I don’t like when Facebook status updates come through as Tweets. Call me what you will but neither path seems to work as well as posting independently of each other, even if it’s the same content being posted.
  4. Hootsuite – I really like Hootsuite for Twitter and as an overall social media management tool. The Google+ integration and automation has been a lifesaver with all of the G+ pages that I manage. As a posting tool to Facebook itself, I had to stop using it a month ago. It just didn’t do as well in the news feed as the other tools available.
  5. Flickr – Just like with Tumblr, Flickr doesn’t do very well. It could be because Facebook spent a billion dollars on a direct competitor with Instagram. That might just be my imagination. However, I love using IFTTT to post from Facebook to Flickr, so not all is lost.
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Build Pages. If You Can't, Change.

There as been a major shift in digital marketing that has been building up for a couple of years now. Content was once a tool used for search engine optimization and social media marketing, but today and in the foreseeable future content will be the most important (and easiest) way to advance in search and social. We discussed it in detail on ADM last month.

One of the advantages of working for an automotive SEO company is that we get to play with the vast majority of content management systems and back end tools that dealers use today. Some are very good at allowing page creation and management, including Vin Solutions,, and, of course, KPA Connect. Others are awful. If you're using a platform that has limitations on content creation, it's time to consider a change.

This isn't a pitch for our website product. It doesn't matter as much to me that you have our product or another product that allows you to easily create and distribute content from your website. It only matters that you have the ability to build two or three pages a month with content that comes from the dealership itself. Where to find and who can create this content is another discussion, but for now, it's imperative to gain the understanding of where content stands in the present and future of digital marketing.

Unique, high-quality content is the source of your digital marketing. It's where the magic can happen. You have to think along the lines of offering resources and points of interest for your local customers. Your standard website content cannot accomplish this. It requires the creation of content that people can find. Remember, it's not just about getting in front of the people who are interested in buying a car today. It's also about building your base, exposing your brand, and being at the top of mind for those who may be interested in buying a car in six months.

This is why "new" marketing trends like retargeting and video pre-roll require codes on your website to make them work. Getting these codes onto your potential customers' computers requires content. To make it happen, you must have a website platform that makes it easier.

Build pages. If you are limited with your backend, make a change. You have the potential to get a dramatic advantage over your competitors, but you simply cannot if you don't have a flexible system to make it happen.

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It isn't uncommon for a page to be created on Facebook, only to be abandoned. Many dealers started off with multiple pages and then consolidated to one. Others had an internet manager who has since left the dealership and they didn't even know there was an additional Facebook page out there.

Find them. Destroy them. They can do damage to your reputation.

As you can see in the image above, this is a dealership page created at the same time as the dealer's primary page. They made a page for sales and a page for service, but unfortunately the service page didn't get much attention. They had one post in 2012 and a couple of posts in 2011, and that's it...

...except for the negative comment at the top of the wall.

This isn't even the worse case scenario. It's easy for a page to be "hijacked" by spammers or competitors who post bad things. There was a relatively-infamous instance a couple of years ago where a dormant page was loaded up with porn.

Don't take the chance. Only bite off what you can chew at the dealership. There are definitely multi-page strategies that work, but they require a commitment. If you cannot make the commitment to manage and monitor more than one, don't build it. If there are dormant pages for your dealership out there, find a way to get control of them and either remove them completely, start managing them, or make them hidden from the public (just in case you want to revive them later).

Don't leave them hanging. You can end up with a bad representation of your dealership without ever knowing about it.

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Social media is about conversations. It's not a broadcasting platform like traditional advertising, search marketing, or other forms of internet marketing. Conversations on social media happen all over the place and are pertinent to your dealership's local area. YOU should be involved in as many of these conversations as possible.

The reason is multi-layered but easy to understand. First, it gives the human component that is so often missing from dealerships' social media marketing strategy. You want your dealership to have a personality on social media. People don't like robots. They don't like automation. They don't like broadcast messages.

What people do like are conversations and businesses willing to take part. When your dealership makes comments on posts from other pages that serve the local area like the one displayed above, people become acutely aware that there are real humans behind the operation of the Facebook page. They will be more willing to check you out. They will be more willing to follow you.

Second, the exposure that you gain through a thoughtful comment that takes 20 seconds to write can be wonderful. In the example above, both students and administrators of the page will see the comment and take note of where it's from. Believe it or not, these simple little interactions are often known or even subconscious factors that help them to consider your dealership now or in the future whether they're aware of the connection or not. The thoughtfulness of this single sentence registers with them. In a split second they're minds understand at a subconscious level that your dealership (1) supports education, (2) is active in the community, and (3) thinks highly of the cause being highlighted by the post.

Again, this post took 20 seconds to write but brings goodwill (even at a subconscious level) to your dealership.

Finally, and there are other factors to consider but these three are the most important ones, you get more branding for your dealership while the potential customers' brains are in their most receptive state. Science has proven that one of the reasons that television commercials are so effective for some is because the messages are being placed in the mind during "TV time", an experience that many people have every day when they are more relaxed and enjoying the day rather than doing something strenuous, tedious, or unpleasant (such as work).

Facebook falls under the same category. Our brains or more active while on social media than while watching television but we're still in a "good place" and the branding that happens during this time will make a deeper impact than normal branding. It's one of the reasons that some are shying away from billboard and radio advertising. That's not to say that you should take down your billboards or stop your radio spots but unfortunately the brand is often exposed during a bad time - while sitting in traffic. You want your brand exposed during happy times.

Find local businesses and organizations. "Like" them on Facebook while logged in under the dealership's account. Follow them on Twitter. Interact with them. Unfortunately it's not the most easily trackable ROI activity but if you understand the importance as well as the ease in which it's done, you can find a way to squeeze in the 10-15 minutes a day it takes to make an impact.

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I just came across a very interesting article in Dealer Marketing Magazine regarding a recent study exploring the impact of social media as it relates to the car buying process and I want to share with you some of the findings and discuss how it can help your dealership's social media strategy.

Shopping for a Car

Basically, the study found that Facebook is playing a fundamental role in the entire car buying process. For example, 84% of new car buyers use Facebook. If your dealership doesn't have a Facebook Fan Page, you're missing out on a boatload of customers. Additionally, the study also found that 38% of car buyers will use social media to research their next vehicle purchase. However, that's not even what stuck out to me. Get ready: 1 out of every 4 car buyers are using social media to discuss their recent car purchase. That's not all.

After Leaving the Lot

A staggering 58% of car buyers are either posting a comment or status update on their Facebook page about their new vehicle. It's not just Facebook either. Many car buyers are utilizing twitter to discuss their new vehicle and the dealership they bought it from (33% and 28% respectively). If your dealership hasn't got involved in social media, then you're missing what your customers are saying about you. Essentially, you're being left out of the conversation.

I could go on and on giving you stat after stat, but it'll just sound redundant.

What to make of all of this?

This study tell us that instead of going straight to the dealership, many shoppers, more specifically new vehicle buyers, are researching online. It's not just the dealership's website the consumer is visiting. No, rather, they are checking out the dealership's Facebook page to research and see what current offers they have (i.e. Honda Civic for special lease offer this weekend).

If you don't have a Facebook page or Twitter account? Well, it's simple. You're losing out on a potential customer. Not to mention, you're missing out on engaging with your customers and managing your online reputation, regardless if they're saying something good or something bad about your dealership.

What do you think of these statistics?

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