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The last 3 years, infographics have grown as one of the most effective marketing tools available. They're easily sharable on social media, can offer tremendous SEO benefits, and can help your dealership offer content that people enjoy seeing.

Still, it's also the most underutilized tool by the automotive industry. A lot of it is our fault; vendors in the automotive space have seen infographics as too challenging and too expensive to bring to market. We've had a handful of forward-thinking dealers take advantage of it, but there hasn't been nearly the adoption that has occurred in other industries.

Even at the OEM level, Ford is the only company that has dipped their toes into infographics and found success.

First, let's look at what they do for dealerships:

  • - They give content to visitors of both their websites and social media profiles an item will be shared. People share good content on Facebook and Twitter. They don't share new car specials pages. Some have asked what the benefit is. We've seen that when people share content on Facebook, a good percentage of it is localized. Friends, relatives, and coworkers that see a nice piece of content from a friend will visit the link and land on your site. If you're running remarketing campaigns or simply going for social media exposure, landing them on your site is an opportunity to generate a lead. Don't forget, every Facebook user has 8-9 Facebook friends who are in the market to buy a vehicle in the next 30 days.
  •  - Powerful inbound links are the most important aspect of search engine optimization. Having graphics that can be embedded on other sites is an opportunity to use this "link bait" to generate free links to your site.
  • - Infographics that portray useful information such as proper SYNCing on a Ford or localized information such as a crime-rate map of the area positions the dealership website as a resource on top of being a place to look at cars. Whenever you can become a resource for people, they are more likely to want to do business with you.

Once you know what they do for you, let's take a look at the most successful infographic that we built in 2011. This particular one was generated for a non-automotive client but it will be easy to see why it was so successful. Here are the stats:

  • - Posted on over 400 websites that linked back to the source, including high-value websites that included the New York Times, Mashable, TheNextWeb, and TheAtlantic.
  • - Shared on Facebook over 17,000 times with Mashable having the highest share-rate of nearly 10,000.
  • - Tweeted over 25,000 times with Mashable again leading the way with over 6,000 retweets.
  • - Estimated 2.3 million views of the infographic.
  • - Made the front page of Digg, Reddit, and went viral for 3 different sites on StumbleUpon.

Now, here's the infographic. If you have any questions about why it worked so well or how it translates in the automotive industry, please feel free to email me or ask in the comments.

 

 

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Social media isn't that different from writing a book. I've written a few manuscripts and short stories, albeit, crappy and unpublished so far. However, regardless of their quality, I know there is always one rule when writing fiction: Pull in the reader with your very first line/paragraph. Hook them.

* I think the same goes for Social media. If you can engage the fan/follower on Monday with a question peaking their interest, then you've got their attention. That's what you want if you're trying to conduct a successful social media strategy.

Yet, what about after that first page? Just filler? Of course, not. Regardless if you're opening paragraph is as great as Shakespeare, it won't matter if the rest is crap. The reader will put the book down and never look at it again. Once you have the reader's attention, you have to hold on and never let go. Be relentless. Keep them wanting more. Keep them turning the page. (Easier said then done!)

*The same applies to social media. Okay, so you've posted an interesting question on Monday. You've got 20 responses. Great. Tuesday comes along. It's not time to sit back and relax. It's time to keep the conversation going. Establish a relationship. Granted, if you're not active for one day on social media, that doesn't mean you'll lose fans immediately. However, if you revert to posting non-dynamic, non-relevant content such as endless promotions, then you're bound to drive that "Reader" away.

Obviously, there is one huge difference between writing a book and propelling at social media: eventually, you'll finish writing that book. Nonetheless, if you're not devoted to producing relevant and engaging posts to build your "social community" (not devoted to keeping the reader on the edge of their seat), you're going to have a tough time with social media.

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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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Random Note on Social Media

Today, Consumer Reports really gave it Ford regarding the Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus. (More on that here) It is pretty surprising given the success Ford has had over the last few years, growing in reliability and quality with not only their vehicles, but also their technology. 

 

Anyway, I checked out Ford's twitter feed, which is the most active in the entire auto industry, and they linked to a discussion forum on their website. The topic was : "Tell us why you love Your Ford Explorer."

I just thought that was a really smart social media and reputation management technique.  Here's that tweet.

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Ten Mindful Ways To Use Social Media

Great List from Tricycle on the absolute best ways to utilize social media. My favorite is #6: Be Active. Not Reactive

 

1. Know your intentions.
Doug Firebaugh of SocialMediaBlogster.com has identified seven psychological needs we may be looking to meet when we log on: acknowledgment, attention, approval, appreciation, acclaim, assurance, and inclusion. Before you post, ask yourself: Am I looking to be seen or validated? Is there something more constructive I could do to meet that need?

2. Be your authentic self.
In the age of personal branding, most of us have a persona we’d like to develop or maintain. Ego-driven tweets focus on an agenda; authenticity communicates from the heart. Talk about the things that really matter to you. If you need advice or support, ask for it. It’s easier to be present when you’re being true to yourself.

3. If you propose to tweet, always ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Sometimes we post thoughts without considering how they might impact our entire audience. It’s easy to forget how many friends are reading. Two hundred people make a crowd in person, but online that number can seem insignificant. Before you share, ask yourself: is there anyone this might harm?

4. Offer random tweets of kindness.
Every now and then I ask on Twitter, “Is there anything I can do to help or support you today?” It’s a simple way to use social media to give without expectations of anything in return. By reaching out to help a stranger, you create the possibility of connecting personally with followers you may have otherwise known only peripherally.

5. Experience now, share later.
It’s common to snap a picture with your phone and upload it to Facebook or email it to a friend. This overlaps the experience of being in a moment and sharing it. It also minimizes intimacy, since your entire audience joins your date or gathering in real time. Just as we aim to reduce our internal monologues to be present, we can do the same with our digital narration.

6. Be active, not reactive.
You may receive email updates whenever there is activity on one of your social media accounts, or you might have your cell phone set to give you these types of alerts. This forces you to decide many times throughout the day whether you want or need to respond. Another approach is to choose when to join the conversation, and to use your offline time to decide what value you have to offer.

7. Respond with your full attention.
People often share links without actually reading them, or comment on posts after only scanning them. If the greatest gift we can give someone is our attention, then social media allows us to be endlessly generous. We may not be able to reply to everyone, but responding thoughtfully when we can makes a difference.

8. Use mobile social media sparingly.
In 2009, Pew Research found that 43 percent of cell phone users access the Web on their devices several times a day. It’s what former Microsoft employee Linda Stone refers to as continuous partial attention—when you frequently sign on to be sure you don’t miss out anything. If you choose to limit your cell phone access, you may miss out online, but you won’t miss what’s in front of you.

9. Practice letting go.

It may feel unkind to disregard certain updates or tweets, but we need downtime to be kind to ourselves. Give yourself permission to let yesterday’s stream go. This way you won’t need to “catch up” on updates that have passed but instead can be part of today’s conversation.

10. Enjoy social media!
These are merely suggestions to feel present and purposeful when utilizing social media, but they aren’t hard-and-fast rules. Follow your own instincts and have fun with it. If you’re mindful when you’re disconnected from technology, you have all the tools you need to be mindful when you go online.

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How Google Social Search Has Changed the Way Dealers Do Social

http://www.internetsales20group.com

Every few months, we see a dip in sentiment regarding social media. It's been going on consistently since early 2009 and we know that it will continue. Dealers try social, see little reason to continue, and set things on autopilot or abandon it altogether. Then, something changes that makes social media more important and the searches for "Automotive Social Media" spike again.

Get ready to do the search. Social just got more important again. A LOT more important.

During the Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in Napa last earlier this month, I gave a keynote that highlighted Google's commitment to social media (as soon as Jared, Bart, and Arnold send me the video, I'll be happy to post it here... hint, hint). Google reaffirmed that commitment in a big way earlier today that will change the way savvy dealers do social media.

Google Social Search is a game changer - even SearchEngineLand, a blog that is often conservative about the impact of Google changes, agrees. It will insert links into the natural search stream based upon social connections that share and produce those links. While social search itself has been around for nearly 2 years, it has always been a side-note buried at the bottom and likely unnoticed by most. Now, it has the potential to change the search results important to us with a single Tweet, review, or blog post.

 

With access to Beta, I did 2 searches for "Washington DC Chevrolet." The first, I did while not logged into Google, personalized search off and cookies cleared:

Then, I did the exact same search while logged into Google:

As you can see, a post by good friend Paul Rushing popped up at the top.

What does this mean for search and social? It means that social sentiment, which many dealers are paying attention to more regularly, just got that much more important. It means that dealers who are unprepared have the potential to see their search traffic drop, particularly if a competing dealer in the market is able to take advantage of this.

It means that YOU can beat them all to the punch and start getting prepared today before it rolls out fully.

I am in the middle of exhaustive research on the subject right now, but here are some key points to think about while you wait for our next version of the Automotive Social Media strategy guide:

  • - Tweets Matter. A Lot. - Imagine a potential customer doing a search for one of your makes in your metro area (the most common new car search; "Denver Ford," for example). They under one of the results close to the top your dealership's listing. It's not at the top, but something catches their eye... Co-worker Debbie tweeted your dealership URL. They click through and see that 14 months ago, Debbie bought a car there and tweeted about how good her experience was. Bingo.
  • - If You Thought Reviews Were Important Before... - As Google always does when they roll out new search features, we can expect expansion. While Facebook is almost completely out of the question for integration, reviews are definitely part of the equation. Same scenario as above, except replace "Tweet" with "RatePoint." Bingo again.
  • - That Pesky Blogger... - Remember the guy who thought he'd wreck your business by posting on his blog about how you low-balled him on his trade? You were smart and covered your Google page one results to keep his post off, but now it's showing up again for hundreds, even thousands of people who are either connected to him or connected to someone who shared his post on social media.
  • - Your Connections. - Now more than ever, having a strong and well-maintained Twitter account is important. Do you still have an RSS feed handling your Tweets, driving potential customers to unfollow you, or are you growing your account and being interesting? If the subtle, intrinsic benefits of Twitter didn't get your attention before, how about moving your website up to the top of hundreds of searches? Still want to automate?

I'm not going to sit here and say "I told you so." Not here. Not on Driving Sales. The dealers here represent the top echelon of automotive social media knowledge so you're probably taking advantage of social media in one way or another. Don't let up. Stay aggressive. Keep up with the changes.

And don't forget to bug Jared about getting me that video. It has some information that may further change the way you do your social media.

 

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Jeep® Brand Reaches Major Social Media Milestone: First Domestic Automotive Brand With More Than 1 Million Facebook Fans

SOURCE Chrysler Group LLC

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Feb 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Jeep® brand reached an unprecedented domestic automotive milestone today, as fans on the brand's Facebook page reached and surpassed the 1 million mark. In achieving more than 1 million fans on its Facebook page, the Jeep brand exceeds the next closest domestic automotive brand fan's total by more than 450,000.

"We are honored to be the first and only domestic automotive brand that can claim more than 1 million Facebook fans," said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. "This reinforces the fact that Jeep is clearly one of the most well-known and loved brands throughout the world, and comes as we continue to gain sales momentum and begin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the brand."

In 2010, the Jeep brand experienced triple digit growth in its fan base on Facebook. The brand continues to foster a vibrant and innovative social community for its passionate fans and owners. In July, Jeep brand fans tested the size limits of Facebook's photo album, "Photos by Others." Fans exceeded the 20,000 photo-limit resulting in a need for Facebook to accommodate the increased number of images.

Along with Facebook, the Jeep brand's social media initiatives include presence on Twitter, You Tube and foursquare web sites. The Jeep brand was the first automotive brand to have an official profile on foursquare.com, the popular location-based social network that allows users to "check-in" at any location. The official Jeep brand You Tube channel is among the top 10 sponsored-channels with over 4.3 million video views.

In 2010, Jeep vehicle sales improved 24 percent globally, and 26 percent in the U.S. versus 2009, with double-digit sales gains for each vehicle in the brand's lineup.

For 2011, Jeep has introduced all-new or significantly refreshed versions of each of its vehicles. With the greatest range of SUVs under one brand, the Jeep vehicle portfolio consists of:

  • Compass: A compact SUV with a new sophisticated, premium design for 2011, the Jeep Compass delivers unsurpassed 4x4 fuel economy, freedom, utility, and Jeep 4x4 cachet and capability, all at a terrific value
  • Grand Cherokee: The most capable and luxurious Grand Cherokee ever, balancing legendary Jeep capability with sophistication to deliver a premium driving experience for all adventures 
  • Liberty: The mid-size SUV from Jeep that offers Jeep Trail Rated® 4x4 capability combined with on-road refinement and numerous innovative features, including the industry-exclusive full-length Sky Slider® open canvas roof 
  • Patriot: A compact SUV delivering the fun, adventure and value only Jeep can offer, with unsurpassed 4x4 fuel economy and segment leading capability 
  • Wrangler: The icon of the Jeep brand, it remains true to its heritage as the original fun-and-freedom machine. For 2011, it boasts an all-new interior, and an available premium body color hardtop for Sahara models
  • Wrangler Unlimited: The only four-door convertible SUV on the market with room for five adult passengers, Wrangler Unlimited receives an all-new interior for 2011 and an available premium body color hardtop for Sahara models

Jeep Brand

Built on seven decades of legendary heritage, Jeep is the authentic sport-utility vehicle (SUV) with class-leading capability, craftsmanship and versatility for people who seek extraordinary journeys. The Jeep brand delivers an open invitation to live life to the fullest by offering a full line of vehicles that continue to provide owners with a sense of security to handle any journey with confidence.

Whether identified by their ownership of multiple Jeep vehicles, or their regular attendance at branded events, or by their abundance of Jeep gear – branded products from clothing to baby strollers – Jeep owners all have one common trait: a Jeep vehicle delivering benchmark, all-weather capability that allows them to go anywhere and do anything. It's not unusual to see Jeep owners sporting a bumper sticker that reads, "It's a Jeep thing...you wouldn't understand."

To meet consumer demand around the world, all Jeep models are sold outside North America – and all are available in right-hand drive versions and with gasoline and diesel powertrain options. Chrysler Group LLC sells and services vehicles in approximately 120 countries around the world.

©2011 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

 

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We all know Facebook is right now for dealerships around the nation the #1 choice when trying to engage with customers off-site, next to the biweekly or monthly ownership email marketing “blast” (my God do I hate this term “blast”) and/or dealer newsletter provided by IMN, Outsell, 3Birds Marketing or OnStation.

But I could discover throughout my held trainings and seminars that we as dealers very rarely know about the motives of consumers, why they are following us or a brand – why do they like us. What make fans and followers click?

A recent conducted research of Co-Tweet and ExactTarget came closer to provide an answer. The following motives and answers will possibly help dealerships to adjust their engagement level on Social Media Networks. It will help us further in creating new approaches to “catch” potential customers’ attention.

Here the Top 10 Motivations why Consumers “Like” a Brand on Facebook and Follow

1. 40% want to receive discounts and promotions

2. 37% want to show support for the brand/company to thers

3. 36% hope (want) to get free samples, a coupon (a.k.a. freebies)

4. 34% want to stay informed about the activities of the company

5. 33% want to get updates on future products

6. 30% want to get updates and information on future sales

7. 27% like to get fun and entertainment out of it

8. 25% want to get access to exclusive content

9. 22% mentioned they were referred by someone to follow this brand/company

10. 21% want just to learn more about the company

Wow, would you have guessed it. Consumers actually like to receive update and information on future sales!

And by the way, don’t feel bad when you do not have too many interactions, shared thoughts and ideas or provided feedback from your “fans, followers and likes”.The survey found out that indeed only 13% want to interact directly with the company.

So, my suggestion would be: Take the numbers, share them with your sales and management team and start to tailor a Facebook Marketing plan around the findings.

Happy reading, planning and executing...VJ the Social Media Buzzer
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As I sit down to write this post, I’m reminded of a situation where I once had to break the news to the owner of a dealership that he needed $1 million cash infusion to keep his store running. He’d been doing things the same way for years and it cost him dearly. The signs of demise were always there, predictions were made, but he chose not to act.


It’s a similar story with Social Media and online reputations for dealerships today. Doing things the same old way will not cut it in this new economy. The following is a list of my top 6 Social Media predictions for dealerships in 2011.  Some points could be considered wishes but hey, a girl’s gotta dream, right?:


1. There will be more Adopters and less Adopt-Laters.  Dealerships will buy into the fact that a well-defined strategy for Social Media generates leads. It’s not about waiting for the customer to come through the door anymore. It’s about meeting the customer where they are and listening.  Everyone will become better for this.


2. Dealerships will realize they can’t do it alone. Social Media is part PR, part marketing, part advertising, part geek…with a twist.  The futility will become clear in the thought that Social Media and online reputations can be managed in someone’s spare time.  They’ll see that the Internet Sales Dept is there to field the leads that come from Social Media and that those sales professionals can’t do that when they’re struggling to find content to attract new buyers.


3. Dealerships will allocate 25% of their advertising/marketing budget to Social Media and Online Reputation Management. Ford did it in 2010 and they’re now the leader on Social networks.


4. Dealerships will stop “blocking” Social Media sites from their staff’s workstations. They’ll establish a clear Social Media policy and fear will no longer blind management’s ability to see the value in having employees–their ‘brand advocates’–share cool things about the store to their trusted networks. Management will understand that staff is already using Social Media on their phones and laptops so blocking is pointless. Sure, it’s a shift in the way we measure productivity but by using positive reinforcement and recognition, management will be able to drive employee enthusiasm. The benefit will be that when the staff shares their enthusiasm with customers, it’s contagious.


5. Dealerships will recognize that content rules. Social Media is not only about a new medium, it’s about new and more meaningful marketing messages. Here’s what killer content does:

  • Attracts customers
  • Educates buyers
  • Establishes credibility and trust
  • Builds buzz throughout Social Networks
  • Inspires customers to love you
  • Increases your PageRank in SEO

….and it generates word-of-mouth and quality leads!


6. Dealerships and managers will have the patience it takes to build a following on Social Media. We all remember how comfortable it was to sit with the print advertising rep each week, design our ads and watch the customers come in the door. Dealerships in 2011 will see that today’s customer wants to buy or service their car from someone they know, like and trust. They’ll accept that Social Media relationships take time to build and this will encourage more dealerships to start using Social Media and integrate it into their budgets for 2011.  The payoff is Customers for Life!

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"

Jesse Thomas is the CEO and Founder of JESS3, a Creative Interactive Agency. JESS3 designs products and experiences for brands like Google, Nike, Facebook, MySpace, C-SPAN, Microsoft and NASA.

“Likes,” views and followers were all the rage in 2010. Despite the social media community emphasizing engagement instead of reach, media agencies quickly learned that engagement doesn’t scale easily, making it difficult to sell. Enter Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. As consumer use of social media spiked, the leading social networks retooled their advertising products to satisfy the newfound demand from brands. Instead of fizzling out like the popular online communities of yesteryear, they are driving toward profitability after several years of trying to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up.

On the flip side, as consumers incorporate social media more into their daily lives, alternatives to the “big three” in the form of niche and location-based social networks have increased in appeal. Advertisers willing to experiment with media campaigns on these networks will have a distinct advantage moving forward as consumers become desensitized to text, display and even rich media ads. Whether they choose to go big or small, the social web equips advertisers with significantly more consumer data points than ever before to improve the targeting and relevance of online advertising.

Below are six predictions for digital advertising in 2011."

 

Read the rest of the article and watch the videos here!

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Speaking Fluent Social Media

My first job in the car business was working for this crazy family who owned 2 dealerships. The patriarch of the family had immigrated from Europe and loved talking to his customers. He would turn on the “Swiss Country Gentleman” shtick and they would eat it up like ugly girls asked to the Prom. He even had commercials on late-night local TVusing the same persona telling everyone that “Our salesmen don’t work on commission”. This brought a lot of people into the store and they all drove away with a smile.

This dealer had his kids helping him run the dealership. One was the Sales Manager, one the Service Manager and the youngest did deliveries for the Office. This was the juggernaut running this enterprise. They all spoke Swiss to each other…all the time…in front of customers and, ofcourse, the employees. Their saving grace was their take-no-prisoners Controller. He made sense of things, especially when the family would fight, and he made sure all the numbers landed where they needed to be.


My point here is that when management is speaking a different language, how can your staff bring their best game? Shouldn’t all the players be playing from the same Playbook to increase sales? The same applies to Social Media campaigns today at dealerships. Management decides to set up profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp without a strategy that includes grassroots employee participation. Merely having Social Media in place doesn’t guarantee that staff will understand it and incorporate it into their daily jobs.


To better foster and manage Social Media, educate and develop everyone in the store. Make sure they’re speaking the same language. Take steps to engage employees and customers so they can easily collaborate with each other. Whether it’s the Salesperson asking the customer to give a short video testimonial at delivery or the Service Advisor reminding his loyal customers to ‘Love us on Yelp’, dealership Social Media marketing doesn’t work without each staff member’s buy-in and daily involvement.


In Social Media, your employees are the players who move it from a marketing campaign to having a conversation with your customers. Are they speaking the language of increasing sales?

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http://www.internetsales20group.com

http://www.dealersyenrgy.com



I wanted to wish everyone a VERY Happy Thanksgiving from me, my family and the entire Dealer Synergy Team. I personally have a tremendous amount to be Thankful for. As you might or might not know, I was in a horrific, near fatal Jet Ski accident in Puerto Rico this past summer. It was a sureal experieince to say the least, I was in Puerto Rico for 2 months and out of work for over 3 months due to the accident. I had a lot of time to think, reflect and truly appreciate what I have. Sometimes when you are going at "warp" speed everyday things might get taken for granted. I am Thankful for my life, to be able to breathe. As simple as that may sound I am sincere. I am blessed and Thankful for my family, friends, company, clients and the ability to do what I love each and every day.

Life is WAY Too Short!! BeThankful that you have life and the opportunity to be and do anything you want to do. Reflect... Soak it all in... Enjoy it!

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving

Sean V. Bradley-

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Just to be clear, there are Facebook profiles, groups, and pages. These are 3 different things. A "Page" is what your dealership can have. It is designed for entities, whether it's a business, charity, or even the branding for an individual. A "Profile" is supposed to be for humans - real people only.

I'm often asked whether or not dealership employees such as Internet managers, sales managers, and salespeople should have a separate individual profile through which they do business.

To me, it's yes, and here's why: Car Dealer Facebook Tip 4


This is only one example of the engagement that is possible from a profile and not from a page. My more complete explanation is available on Soshable under Business Facebook Profiles, but really this video here should be compelling enough to at least consider it.
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Mixed Signals?

I posted this picture a while ago because I think its funny. One sign says "No Loitering" which means no hanging around right? Then not 2 feet in front of it is another sign telling me That I have to wait here in this line for 20 minutes. Which one am I supposed to listen too? Then it got me thinking. Uh oh right?

If a simple sign at a gas station carwash can trip me up; what do my customers think? I mean a car purchase is the second largest purchase maybe even largest purchase some people make. What am I doing to confuse things? Well in the car business we doALOT of things to make it harder on ourselves. We advertise payments with "No MoneyDown" and then in the small print we put something like does not include taxes and tags or destination or some BS like that. All in an effort to beat our competitors and still hold gross. Now I am not saying holding gross is bad. I will never say that,as a commission paid manager I need gross. (5% of nothing pays nothing) All I am saying is that we need to be a little more clearer in the way we do things.

I have been a manager at my store for a little over a year and have never used those tactics. The first time I went out to buy a car the car dealership did that to me and it pissed me off. All I remember saying is why cant you give me what you said you would? Ihad no idea that 15 years later I would be a sales manager at a car dealership, at that time was delivering furniture for a living.

With social media we can not afford to practice these ways of doing business. They will and do call us on every deceptive practice we use. This is a great time to be in car sales. I really believe (and if you have read any of my previous blogs you will agree) that social media will help the honest dealer and punish the bad ones. A dealership cannot control what other people broadcast about them. You need to take this very seriously. This is not all bad news though. I have personally changed an angry customer into an advocate just by tweeting them! You can use it to help your image too.

It all goes back to the golden rule. Any time I think of a way to sell a car, I ask myself if Iwould do this to/for my little sister. If the answer is yes I know I have something if not it gets scrapped. I am fortunate to work at a dealership with a great owner who shares those same principles.

Mixed signals? If you have them get rid of them. Be clear, Be consistant, and Be confident that if you dont someone else will.

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If your hairstylist told you they were the authority on marketing, would you believe them? If you tried to cut your hairstylist’s hair, would they let you? The answer to both is probably no, and for good reason. I know that if I picked up a pair of shears, it would be more sheepdog than chic for my unfortunate client. I’m not an expert on haircutting, and my wonderful stylist is not an expert on marketing. We stick to what we know, which is exactly what you should do in social media.

A common social media pitfall is dabbling in the unknown, or what I like to call forgetting your brand. A car dealer should talk cars. A real estate agent should talk houses. Here at TaCito, we talk marketing. But anyway, back to my salon analogy. Whenever I get my haircut, I ask my stylist for her opinion. She references popular culture, shows me pictures, tells me anecdotes. I’m always sold on her opinion, and I let her do whatever she wants to my hair (no small feat for a woman, as most of you know). In other words, I listen to her because she is both authentic and an authority; those traits have changed me from her client to her evangelist.

Social media can have the same application. Why does this matter? Because customers are fickle, but evangelicals are passionate, loyal, and provide powerful word-of-mouth advertising. Somehow, people see you on social media because something has peaked their interest. Take the next step and engage your customer as an authority. People need to know that you know what’s going on in the world (not the whole world, your world. The car world, the real estate world, the marketing world.) They want to see pictures, they want to hear stories, and they want to believe that you are the expert on whatever you are selling. This does not mean sell yourself constantly. Much like I would be annoyed if my hairdresser only talked about how great she is at cutting hair, your customer does not want to hear about how you are the best dealership/agent/marketer. Plus, that’s dull. Show your customers how good you are at what you do, and then allow them to draw their own conclusions. If you’re as good as you say, they’ll be your evangelist, too. Here are some suggestions for being your brand’s authority:

  1. Be external. Do not incessantly talk about yourself; talk about things that represent your brand. Share photos, links, stories, videos, etc.
  2. Be conversational. No one likes a know-it-all but they do like new information. Share accordingly.
  3. Be polite. This means responding to people even if they are criticizing you. 24/7 feedback has its risks, so keep customer service in mind when dealing with someone that is displeased.
  4. Be interesting. Like I said, it’s not all about you. 85% of information you put online should be external and sharable (see point 1).

For a great example on a company that is an online authority on their brand, check out Anthropologie. Over 200,000 like them on Facebook and they have seamlessly been able to transition the familiar “best-closet-ever” feel of their stores into an online community. http://www.facebook.com/Anthropologie Or, check out To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit about supporting people who are at-risk to self-hurt. Almost 800,000 people like them on Facebook, encouraged by not only the wonderful cause but the integration of music, blogs, testimonials, and other media.http://www.facebook.com/towriteloveonherarms?v=wall

Ps- If you’re in the Dallas area and want to be as blissfully happy with your hairstylist as I am, go to Pure Salon in Las Colinas and ask for Ashley. 972.717.9200.

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Every time I see a certain friend of mine, she ends up singing this song from AutoTune the news. She's downloaded the iPhone app, bought the song on iTunes, and consistently quotes it in normal conversation. It's funny. It's controversial. It's a little bit ridiculous. It's also been viewed over 32 million times on YouTube, was a Billboard Top100 hit, was performed at the BET Awards, and is still an iTunes top download.[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtZfW2z9dw]I also have my own viral video addiction, which is just under 18 million YouTube views, and has it's own song (also by AutoTune the News). The creator has been on Jimmy Kimmel, is featured in a Microsoft WindowsLive Commercial, and is starting a non-profit healing center from funds raised through the video.[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI&feature=channel]What is it about these videos that sticks with us? And more important, what do Antoine Dodson and a double rainbow have to do with your business's social media strategy? The answer is simple: authenticity.Both of these videos epitomize real, human reactions and emotions; these videos are honest. Authenticity creates results, so don't be afraid to let loose and lose a little control over your message and your brand. Encourage discussion. Address criticism. Engage in conversation. People will respect your honesty, and in turn, respect your brand. Focus on these goals to get your social media strategy started right.Next time, I'll build on this to explain how respect can turn into evangelism. Stay tuned!Ps- right now, proceeds from the Bed Intruder song and iPhone app are going to Antoine Dodson and his family so they can buy a home in a safer neighborhood. Learn more here: http://www.antoinedodson.net/Pps- you can buy official double rainbow tshirts here: http://www.yosemitebear.net/
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