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Setting up Google User Explorer

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Why aren't dealers seeing enough ROI in Social Media

4 Tips for Bridging the Gap with Dealers and Social Media

The gist of the article was that dealers don’t see enough return on their investment in social media.

Why do you think this is?

Is this because people aren’t interested in their local dealers on social media, or is it because campaign effectiveness in social media lacks?

2014 survey of more than 10,000 active car buyers found that social media ranked far below dealer websites, web searching and the automotive news media as a source of information when they are shopping.

In the NY Times article, Hyundai of Huntsville General Manager Matt Howell is quoted as saying that personal relationships are more important than social media, and that he is yet to attribute any meaningful impact on his business to social media.

Could it be that this manager does not truly understand the role of social media, or is he simply taking the wrong approach?

In the aforementioned article, another dealer is quoted saying, “I don’t even bother wasting my people’s time posting all day.” By focusing on ads, including ones that target car buyers when they are near rival dealers, the dealer reported an increase in sales while cutting marketing expenses per car sold to $90 from $500.

Are Facebook Ads the answer to dealers’ woes with social media? What about producing quality content that engages people, like other brands do, which marketers continue to stress importance?

What is “quality” dealer content anyway?

Is it happy customer videos? Is it warm fuzzy photos and videos that make people feel good?

When I encounter dealers producing this type of content, engagement is low, e.g. single digits. This is no way to market your dealership. Do you see other local retailers do this?


Which brings me to my point…

Dealers are local multi-million dollar operations that are unique in the retail world. You can’t really equate franchise dealerships to any other entities in an apples-to-apples comparison. However, they are franchises, they are retailers, and they do thrive on repeat customer business much like other local franchises and retailers, so many of the same basic principles do apply:

  1. Always strive to provide an exceptional customer experience that people will talk about
  2. Provide useful informative information that your customers will appreciate
  3. Offer your customers meaningful incentives and promotions
  4. Make sure your dealership is easily accessible across multiple platforms, networks, and devices

While all four of these suggestions are equally important, each of them requires its own strategy to achieve.

1. Exceptional Customer Experience

The customer experience is a byproduct of the integrity of the dealership, which begins at the ownership level and works it way through the fabric of the organization. Most dealerships in my experience do provide a good customer experience, but no organization is perfect. There is always room for improvement. Without this, everything else is in vein. If your dealership isn’t reaching or exceeding your standard on customer experience then you need to strive to be a change agent there or else move on.

2. Quality Relevant Content

This is a challenging objective, especially over time. My philosophy is that dealers need to lean on whatever resources they can to consistently provide quality relevant content. By “quality and relevant” I mean information that is published by the dealership on dealership resources, e.g. the dealership blog and social media profiles.

The information does not always have to be produced by the dealership, but the more that can be, the better.

Here’s a resource; check out Jason Stum’s Ultimate Blogger Resource Pack on his siteMarketPunch. Here you will find multiple resources that Jason has produced to give dealers powerful useful resources for producing blog content which of course can then be used in social media. This could be a terrific starting point for you.

3. Meaningful Incentives and Promotions

Take my word for it, people aren’t interested in videos of your happy customers and they aren’t interested in gimmicky information such as cute pet videos. People want to know what’s in it for them and when you can save them time and money and give them a great value then you don’t want to be shy about letting them know that.

Put together exceptional offers, make them look and sound fantastic, and then let as many people know about them as possible. The great thing about digital media today is that it gives us insights as to who might want to know about what, and when, and how. Leverage today’s advanced tools and data and partners to execute smart and effective marketing and advertising campaigns.

4. Multi-Channel, Cross-Platform

As I just mentioned, leverage today’s advanced tools and data and technology. Dealers today have access to incredible resources, giving you the ability to reach people across multiple channels and different platforms and devices. But you need to harness these resources through key vendor relationships.

If you are tuning out vendors because you don’t want to be bothered by the noise then you are doing you and your dealership a disservice. If that’s the case then you might want to consider avendor visit protocol.  You are not a data or computer technology company, you are a car dealership; you sell and service vehicles.


  1. Is your dealership incorporating Social Media in its marketing strategy and if so then how effectively?
  2. If so, are you able to measure and/or justify the ROI accurately?
  3. Is your Social Media strategy focused on sales, service, or both?


Ryan Gerardi


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Here is another example of a "Value Package Proposition"  or "Why Buy From Us" video that the Dealer Synergy Video Production Team created for #AtlanticHonda part of the Atlantic Auto Group in #NewYork. Let me know what you think. If you have any question about a "Why Buy From Us" message or video, please ask away! 

Toni Anne is the eCommerce Director of the Atlantic Auto Group, a 1.1 Billion Dollar Dealer Group based in Long Island New York. She was recently the COVER Story for Auto Dealer Daily (Monthly) Magazine for December 2015.

Check out that Cover Story - 

And please click this Video Review she did for Dealer Synergy - 

For information on Video Production or Consulting, please call or text 267-319-6776 

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Most Up To Date Statistics State That Car Dealerships Need A Video Strategy - 2015 Video Is The Most Powerful Tool For A Car Dealership. A dealership or dealer group can utterly crush the competition and have an unfair advantage in their market by having a video strategy. This video has the most up to date video statistics. Most businesses do not have a video strategy. Here are the areas that a dealership needs to focus on for video: - Video Search Engine Optimization - Video Emails - Video Conferencing - Video for Website(s) - Video for Social Media - Comparison Videos - How to videos - Videos for CRM - and so much more!

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Do You Understand Search Algorithms?

Google and Bing are constantly fine-tuning their search engine algorithms to provide better results for users. With all the recent changes in search, it's easy to get confused on how search engines work, and how businesses should be using them to get the best results from their search campaigns.On this episode of Think Tank Tuesday, Paul explains how you can take advantage of search in your marketing strategies. Learn what algorithms are, how they work, and what you should know before starting your own search campaigns.
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There is something going on with dealership websites that needs to stop ASAP!

It’s something that should be pretty obvious, but clearly isn’t.

Know what I’m talking about?

Most websites for car dealers look, feel and flow the same way as each other.

They all have the same messaging, calls-to-action, design concepts and lack the site traffic needed to make a big impact on gross or net profits.

The problem is that automotive consumers are much more web-savvy than they’ve ever been.

They have been conditioned to use the internet in a specific way based on the sites they visit on a regular basis.

Sites like Amazon, eBay, Facebook and other ecommerce and social sites.

Most dealer websites are not providing the experience that online users are already used to. They are playing catchup.

I think most dealers would agree that the objective of their website is to get more leads from their website. After all, more leads = more sales opportunities, right?

Well here’s a secret that will get your website converting traffic like a machine.

I must warn you, that this secret will require...WORK.

Nonetheless, it’s a tried and tested strategy that will separate your dealership from the vast majority of other dealers and help you dominate your market online.

If you look at the other websites out there that your consumers are visiting on a regular basis, what do they all have in common?

Information in the form of content.

You see, every day MILLIONS of automotive consumers are going online to research your products and services. You know what they’re finding? Your competitors.

Why? Because your competitors are providing more information on their websites than you are.

Why is it that I can go online and find more information about a $20 cell phone case than most consumers can about the second largest investment of their life?

Think about it!

You need to get more content on your website that covers a variety of topics.

Blog about the latest vehicles on your lot. Do video test drives. Talk about your products and services in a way that provides REAL value to your customers. Leave the pitch out.

Just focus on value, value, value and more value.

The cool thing about providing value in the form of content is that you’ll attract the right type of customers to your site.

All you need to do is identify the type of customer you wish to attract and then create content that speaks to them.

When you know who you’re speaking to, it gets that much easier to know what to ask them as well. All you have to do is line up the call-to-action with the content that you’ve created.

This strategy will give you an immediate increase in leads because you’ll be able to leverage your existing site traffic.

So here’s the breakdown on how to get started:

1.) Figure out what type of customer you want to speak to (vehicle sales, parts, services, finance etc.)

2.) Create content in the form of a blog, videos, images etc that speak to them about what they’re interested in

3.) Keep the pitch out of your content - just focus on providing REAL value to the customer

4.) Include a call-to-action that’s relevant to your content

Doing so will allow you to:

1.) Leverage your existing site traffic

2.) Attract new Qualified site traffic

3.) Increase leads from your website

Have fun with this, and feel free to comment with your questions if you’d like some help getting started.


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This isn’t going to be a long post (I know a lot of mine have been too long, lately) but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s short because the concept is simple. Unfortunately, many are missing out on this easy technique.

There are plenty of types of content that you can post on Facebook, but they invariably fall into one of two categories – conversation and conversion. You’re either posting to help spark conversations that are on topic with your industry or you’re posting content designed to drive conversions of some sort to increase business. In some cases, a post can fall under both categories, those these types of posts are normally not as effective at achieving either goal.

The point of conversational posts is simply to earn the right to post conversion content. You have to earn this right from two different entities. The first is Facebook itself. The EdgeRank algorithm is very fickle. Because people are less likely to interact with content that is pushing the big sale this weekend than if they’re seeing an image of a concept Hyundai crossover, too many conversion posts can hurt you in the algorithm. Facebook knows the activities that happen on their site including a lack of activity. In other words, it’s not just those unavoidable occasions when people will hide or report your content. Your EdgeRank is hurt when people simply do nothing, when it appears in their news feed but they scroll right passed it without engaging.

The second entity for which you have to earn the right to post conversion content is the user base itself. People get fatigued. If they see post after post of “sale-sale-sale” appear on their news feed, they will eventually block you. They are much less likely to do that when the conversion posts are spread out, when there’s real conversational posts hitting their news feed and drawing their attention. Then, when they see the conversion posts, they’re less inclined to offer negative feedback because they get it. That’s one of the toughest things for businesses and marketers to accept. People get it. They know that you’re running a business and they’re accepting of the occasional conversion post as long as they hold a good sentiment towards your company and social media presence because you’ve earned their trust through strong conversational posts.

The conversion posts are the easiest to grasp but are much harder to deliver properly. It isn’t about advertising the big sale or the oil change or the individual vehicle that you just took in on trade. It’s about presenting the big sale, the oil change, or the unique vehicle you just took in on trade in a way that is engaging to them.

John Hinderer Pilot

The example above is not ideal. It’s not a super rare find or a killer manager’s special. It’s just a car, but there’s personality in the way that it was presented. That’s one of the keys. The second key is that the conversation that ensued as a result of the post included very responsive action. Someone in the local area inquired further about it. That’s good. It’s better that the response came with instructions on how to proceed.

These types of posts would not work if that’s all that ever got posted by the dealership. Most people passed this post up because they weren’t in the market at that particular moment for a used Honda Pilot. Even those who aren’t buying today will eventually need something, but more importantly you’ll want to get engagement from those people because of EdgeRank. Someone might not be in the market, but one of their friends might be. When the person not in the market likes, shares, or comments on your posts, there’s an increased likelihood that their friend who is in the market will now see the proper posts as a result.

Mix it up. There’s no magic formula. If I were cornered with a knife to my throat and forced to answer the question about the proper mix of content I would say something like 6:1 – six conversational posts for every conversion post, but I’d be guessing and generalizing. The reality is that it’s different for every page, every market, every demographic. Some can get away with 3:1. Some can only muster 10:1. Whatever is right for your page and your business is the way to go. It’s not a copout response. We spend a lot of time determining the personality and limitations of each individual client and the ratios listed above are real-world ranges that we’ve seen and applied. The key is finding what works best for you.

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The KBG. Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti. The Committee for State Security for the former Soviet Union was one of the most feared agencies in history. Thankfully, this post isn’t about them.

Here, we’re going to talk about a different type of KGB, the type that is plaguing social media on pages across the internet, hurting businesses and striking fear into the hearts of knowledgeable internet marketing professionals around the world. It’s the type of bad posts that were once thought to be effective but that have been debunked time and time again, yet so many businesses (and even vendors) continue to post them.

Today’s social media KBG is this:

  • Kitties
  • Games/Giveaways
  • Bogus Questions

If you or your vendor are still using these things, stop immediately. They aren’t helping. In fact, they are hurting the cause of using social media as a proper advertising venue through which to increase business. Here’s why:




Don’t misunderstand. I have nothing against felines. By “kitties” I’m referring to the type of posts that have absolutely nothing to do with business but that are designed to become popular on social media for their general appeal. They are often funny, sometimes cute, and almost always fluffy (not in the feline way).

Do they work? If the goal is strictly to get more likes in an effort to improve Facebook EdgeRank, then technically they can be effective. The problem is two-fold. First, they turn many people off. They get enough kitty posts from their friends and family. Many people don’t like it when they see business pages post irrelevant kitty pictures because it is insincere. “You’re a business, not a buddy.”

The second and arguably more important reason is that your business has plenty of relevant content to post. Stay focused. A car dealer should be posting cars. There are plenty of awesome cars that work just fine to get engagement. Local businesses have a world of potential content surrounding them in their community and within proximity to the store. Kitty images are simply not necessary for driving engagement and the risk of turning people off as a result is simply too high to dismiss.


Games and Giveaways


Just as with kitties, games and giveaways intended to inflate the fan counts on the various social networks (Facebook in particular) can be effective in achieving its goal. Just as with kitties, it’s not necessary and can have dramatic negative consequences.

Who wants fans to like their page so they have a chance to win something? What are the chances of getting any engagement from that person? How many people do not win the great prize and get a negative sentiment about a business right from the start?

Most importantly, it’s just too easy to acquire high quality fans through transparent advertising to give games or giveaways any consideration. Through transparency, pages are able to grow at a much better pace. Is it faster? Sometimes, but not always. That doesn’t matter. I’ll take 100 fans who came in for the right reasons and with the right expectations over 1000 fans hoping to get something for free any day.


Bogus Questions

Bogus Questions

Of the three components of KGB-style fan acquisition techniques, this is arguably the most annoying. You don’t care and we know it. There, I said it.

No business outside of a movie theater cares what their fans’ favorite movies are. It’s so apparent to anyone who’s been on Facebook for more than a month that companies who ask irrelevant questions are doing so to get you to talk to them. It’s a desperate move that is apparently so to the people who see the questions.

If you’re going to ask questions (which is a good thing when done right), keep it relevant. Keep it in line with what your business does. Ask questions that you might ask a customer if you were sitting with them in the waiting room or met them at a party. Don’t ask questions that are simply there to drive engagement. People know what you’re doing and they don’t like it.

Will some people respond to any question? Of course? Is this a good thing? No.

* * *

There are too many transparent and effective methods to get fans and increase engagement. Using these types of techniques is so antiquated that I can’t believe there are still companies that use them.

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Everyone who plays in the Facebook page strategy game has their opinions about the types of content to post. Car dealers and vendors have tried different things over the years. Some have found success while others have let it fall off completely, dismissing it as unimportant or too time-consuming to mess with on a daily basis.

For those who are doing well or wanting to do well with engagement on their pages while still demonstrating real ROI, here are some content types that have worked well for us. It’s important to mix things up on Facebook. Fan fatigue happens regularly, especially when a dealer or vendor finds a particular type of content that works well. They tend to favor this type of content in their posts. Some even go so far as to post only one type of content such as cool cars. Your fans watch. They know. By the 10th car in a row, they start to get tired of seeing them regardless of how cool they are. Mixing it up is important.

While there are definitely more than three content types that can be effective, the three below are the ones we’ve found that can account for the vast majority of your posts and still keep your fan base growing, liking, and generally engaging with your page in their news feed.


Local Content

Honolulu at Night

It’s extremely important to understand that this type of content only works well if your page has been built with mostly local fans. We’ve covered before that nearly all of your fans should be local, that having too many fans out of the area can actually hurt your ability to use Facebook for marketing to real buyers. If your fan base is not over 90% localized, you should get that fixed before posting a bunch of local content.

Once you have that established, it’s time to take advantage of what you have around you. The local area is always loaded with interesting places to visit, amazing places to photograph, and intriguing people to highlight. This should be the focus of your localized social media posts.

Local places are easy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a major metro or out in the country. The people around you area like to see the local area highlighted on Facebook and they appreciate the businesses that do the highlighting. In the example above, we were given an easy pitch to hit. The fans are completely localized (they had 26 fans when we started so we had a clean slate with which to play) and the area is a gorgeous one: Honolulu. As a result, getting nearly 400 likes on the post was a piece of cake and didn’t require a huge amount of Facebook ad spend to make it happen.

While local places might be the obvious choice, there are others. For example, highlighting other loved local businesses or organizations is easy. A post with a picture of a popular local diner, for example, could lead with “We visit Stan’s Diner every Sunday for the pancakes…” These types of posts won’t be as popular as scenes like the one above, but it’s good to spread the love to others. If they see it (and if you have a strong enough Facebook page, they will) they will appreciate the mention.

Lastly, focusing on local people is always a hit. One popular post we did last year highlighted the three local baseball players at the high school that made the all-state roster. It’s something that can be universally liked by the community, particularly if you’re in a small town.


Automotive Content

Automotive Content

Not much needs to be said about this. Being in the automotive arena, there’s never a shortage of “carporn” out there for your fans to ogle over. There can be a temptation to flood your page with this type of content, particularly after you’ve had your first viral post, but don’t get too car picture heavy. Again, fatigue will follow if you do.

Something that a lot of dealers are starting to do is to post helpful tips on subjects such as car maintenance. These are great but again they should be used sparingly. Most people aren’t out there changing their own oil and the internet is loaded with how-tos if they ever get the inclination to do it themselves. An occasional post or a quick tip doesn’t hurt.


Dealership Content

Waynesville American Cruisers

Some dealers do this too much. Some never do it at all. It’s expected of local businesses that they should be at least a little business-centric with their posts. These are often the most important posts because they are intended to drive foot traffic, website traffic, or both.

Doing it too much can put a strain on the algorithm and force your posts to become virtually invisible. It’s not all about “me, me, me,” on Facebook (at least not for businesses) and this will turn people off. They don’t have to report or unfollow you to have a negative algorithmic effect on future posts. If they simply pass over your posts in their news feed without interacting with it, there’s still a negative effect.

One common trend has been to post pictures of happy customers in front of the car they just bought. Doing this too much is a big mistake because of the algorithm. It’s a post that has an isolated chance of getting liked. Remember, just passing over the post is enough to cause some damage to your page and people won’t normally like pictures of people they don’t know. There are definitely ways to make it fun and get people to promote their own images to friends and family, but that’s a longer discussion than we have time for in this post. The short of it is that if you do post images of happy customers, keep it to a minimum.

* * *

As I mentioned above, there are tons of different types of content that can be posted. However, there is also plenty of content that should never be posted. Keep it relevant. Remember, you’re a business and people want to view you as such. Trying to sneak into the conversation by posting funny cat videos is an easy way to turn the wrong people off to your posts.

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For years, the acquisition of a bigger, “better” Facebook page has been a focus of many in the social media marketing realm. There are companies that are dedicated to the task. The reality now (and for a long time, actually) is that fan acquisition for business Facebook pages is such a minor piece of the puzzle that it’s something most businesses should push to the back burner. It’s not that you don’t need them at all, but the success of a Facebook page is determined by reach and fans are only a small part of the equation.

When someone likes a page, they have the potential of seeing your posts. For better or for worse, Facebook has made it challenging for the majority of your fans to actually see your posts on their news feed. They have to really, really like your posts a lot for them to appear on their news feed without help, which causes a chicken and egg conundrum. They have to see your posts to be able to like, share, or comment on them, but they need to like, share, or comment on them before they start seeing them in their news feed, at least organically.

This is where Facebook ads come into play, but there are distinct challenges there as well. Those who discover the reach potential of Facebook ads often make the mistake of promoting the wrong content. It’s not just about posting the “fun” stuff naturally and using Facebook ads to boost the promotional content. That is only effective until the content starts getting negative feedback. Remember, every time someone is presented with the content and chooses not to interact with it, that’s a bad thing.

A common series of events with Facebook ads looks like this:

  1. A user tries Facebook ads for the first time and their reach explodes for very little money spent.
  2. The content wasn’t super-viral and while it gets more interactions than most of the page’s content, it doesn’t do well in relation to the people it reached.
  3. Over time, the Facebook ad budget starts to yield reduced results. Hundreds of thousands reached becomes tens of thousands, then thousands.
  4. Budgets go up but engagement and reach stay stagnant.

Play the ad game the right way with EdgeRank in mind. That’s an entire other post. For now, let’s get back to reach versus fans.

Here’s an example of an above-average car dealer’s Facebook reach statistics:

Scott Robinson Reach

In this example, you see that they’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it local. They have a page for their dealership in the Los Angeles area with around 4K fans. They post good, engaging content regularly. Their reach isn’t bad for an organic-only strategy.

Here’s an example of how a properly managed Facebook page should look for a local business. In this case, it’s a car dealership in Waynesville, NC:

Waynesville Reach

The targeting is hyper-localized. They’re getting almost all of their views and engagement from within a 50-mile radius and the vast majority within a 20-mile radius.

They have around 700 fans.

Getting fans is important, but it’s only important in that it helps to expand a page’s reach. It isn’t who likes your page. It’s who sees the posts. The more people you can get to see your posts, the more effective your social media campaigns can be. Fans are part of it. Ads are part of it. Content is part of it. Putting together the exact right mix of the three is one of the biggest keys to success.

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Keep it Local, Local, or Local on Facebook

Local Buying a Car

I was moderating a small panel at a conference about two and a half years ago that focused on Facebook fans. The two panelists represented the two different sides of Facebook promotion at the time: one focused on local quality fans and the other focused on bulk fans. After the debate, one might have called it a draw. That was over two years ago. Today, there’s really only one side that deserves any representation at all. Local businesses should focus solely on getting local fans, period. To get a broad reach of fans outside of the market area as a local business can do more harm than good.

Only one side of the argument “deserves’ to be mentioned today, but unfortunately that’s not the case. There are still plenty of companies out there that try to use contests or other incentives to coax people to like their pages. Some even purchase fans. Both methods are antiquated.


Don’t Reach Too Far

This is still very prominent today and it needs to go away. No games. No giveaways. Get that our of your head. You don’t need to get fans that way.

To the right, you’ll see a standard demographic breakdown from a Facebook page we recently took over. They had been growing their fan base through contests for some time. Despite the fact that the drawing for a free iPad required that the winner had to come to the car dealership to pick it up, there were still hundreds of entries in the form of likes on the page that came from outside of the area, even outside of the country. I know that iPads are great and all but nobody’s going to hop on a plane to get the iPad they won.

Fan growth can and should be organic and transparent. We’ve had extreme success with stating the absolute truth. In one example, we took over a car dealership Facebook page in Honolulu that had 26 total fans. Three months later, they have over a thousand and their demographic composite is exactly what we want it to be:

Cutter Chevrolet Likes

Other than the four people in Cincinnati dreaming of living in Hawaii, the likes we’ve built have been completely localized. The goal should be that every person who follows you on Facebook should be within driving distance of becoming a customer. Some would argue that you can expand your reach beyond the immediate local area, but in the vast majority of America, keeping it hyper-local is the way to go. It isn’t just about focus, either. It’s about exposure. Your brand needs to be seen by as many locals as possible and the easiest way to do this is to make sure that only locals are following you.


Don’t “Coax” Fan Growth

Like Our Page

Here’s the thing. People will follow businesses. It has been proven time and time again that people are willing to follow businesses if they give them a valid reason to do so. A contest is not a valid reason. Getting the latest funny cat pictures is not a valid reason. The latest Facebook game is not a valid reason.

The valid reason that you’re looking for is all around you. You’re the expert in your field. People come to you and trust that you know what you’re talking about when it pertains to your business. If you’re a car dealer, you know cars. Period. Your content should reflect a deep understanding of the automotive industry, your brands, the local area, and your customers.

Present it just like that. There’s no need to promise that you’re going to be interesting. Promise tangible things that pertain to your business. For example, you can advertise that your Facebook page is “The home of the most important Chevrolet news, pictures, and videos that pertain to you, Honolulu.”

It works. We know. We’ve seen it in action.

When people like your page because they think they can win something, play a game, or perform any action that has nothing to do with your business, they will not be engaged. If they’re not engaged, they’re wasted fans. Having fans that are not engaged kills your EdgeRank and makes your actual business-relevant messages and branding invisible to your audience. I cannot stress this enough. In the future, I’ll compile a blog post that proves beyond a doubt that this is true, but for now, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.


When Your Fans Are Local, You’ll Reach More Locals

Waynseville FB

This is arguably the hardest thing to do on Facebook when a page has been algorithmically damaged by poor strategies. Getting the algorithm to like you again takes time, but it can happen. It’s a healing process.

In the example above, it’s clear to see where the engagement is happening. By keeping the page completely local, we’re able to more easily target the dealership’s message towards those who can come buy a car, get their oil changed, or interact in some way with the dealership.

This isn’t a large dealership. It’s not a large Facebook page. In fact, it has around 700 fans. Thankfully, those 700 fans are engaged and we’re able to reach the local audience with their message much more easily than if they had fans spread out across the country or around the world. That’s the key to all of this. By keeping it local, you can reach the people that matter. Unless you’re Dell or Skittles, chances are that you aren’t going for a global audience. Make sure your Facebook page reflects this concept.

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Facebook has been a promising venue through which to market a dealership ever since it reached a high level of popularity back in 2008. Back then, it was just breaking the hundred million user level and was showing signs that it would be able to be business-friendly in contrast to its rival MySpace. Now, it’s 10 times bigger and commands more time of humans than any other website.

The problem is that it’s not the easiest marketing platform to master. Unlike Google, Twitter, and other players that are used on a daily basis, Facebook has algorithms that keep dealers from finding success. Google has an algorithm, of course, but because people go to it to find businesses, they make it very easy for those willing to pay money or play by the optimization rules to get the exposure they need. On Facebook, users aren’t going there to engage with businesses so trying to “sneak in” marketing and advertising is an act that goes contrary to the desires of the users. This is why the algorithm can be so harsh.

It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible. There is plenty of advice on the internet that tells businesses and marketers how to have success on Facebook. Unfortunately, some of it is poor advice. Others are simply antiquated. Most make general assumptions. There aren’t very many specifics that small businesses can use to make an impact.

The best way for a local business to move the needle is to get to a point of local exposure and built up trust that allows them to give their marketing messages exposure and that promotes communication with customers and potential customers through the network itself. Accomplishing this takes a process.

The first three steps in the process are the easiest, the ones that can all be described in a single blog post. The stages beyond the first three get much more complex, not because they’re so much harder but because they become very specific to the goals of the dealership as well as the personality of the team. We can’t go into those, but the first three should be enough to get you going:

1. Grow locally

Here’s the bad news. If you have accumulated a ton of fans outside of your market area, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to dump everyone and start over. It’s not fun. It’s not easy (unless your following is so extended that you have to delete the page altogether and start from scratch – that’s easy). It can be one of the most gut-wrenching decisions you’ll ever make pertaining to your social media marketing, particularly if you’ve been doing it for years. All that effort, wasted. It hurts.

The good news is that building back up from scratch isn’t as hard as most think. It requires money – Facebook advertising is the best way to get a local following built up – but not much. Many businesses are already through this stage and can boast having a mostly-localized following. Regardless of how you get there, this is the first step – get your following up to acceptable level.

2. Get engagement

This is always the scariest piece of advice and the most challenging stage to implement. First, the term “engagement” is so overused and misunderstood. To so many, it means cats. The internet is loaded with cats. People post pictures of cats all the time. It seems like a great place to start.

On a local business page, there should be no cats allowed unless you’re building a page for a veterinarian.

Every business has some sort of relevant content that can be posted. No business is so boring that they can’t find interesting things to post that pertain to what they do. This is paramount – car dealers should be posting cars, automotive tips, and localized events because that’s what the people who liked their page expect. There’s no need to get too clever. Strong content doesn’t have to be contrived. It doesn’t have to be shared from George Takei’s awesome Facebook page.

Keep it organic. Keep it real. Keep it relevant. Your fans will like it and become engaged (whatever that really means).

3. Earn the right to market

There was a question asked on a forum about how to judge success on a Facebook page. They had built up to a nice number of fans. Their fans were mostly localized. They had engaging content on the page (though there were some cat-like posts that we don’t recommend, but otherwise it wasn’t bad). Now, they wanted to see where the ROI was.

Unfortunately, there was none, at least not that was noticeable. They had made it through to stage three but hadn’t taken it to the next level.

Facebook users aren’t as silly as we often believe. They don’t like a local business page without the understanding that they’ll likely see some marketing materials cross their feed from time to time. If they don’t want the marketing content, they wouldn’t like a business in the first place.

Some take this to the extreme and post only marketing stuff. This is a huge mistake based upon what was mentioned above – the algorithm. Marketing content does not perform very well under most circumstances, so having only marketing content won’t work. You’ll lose fans. You’ll move down in the news feed based upon poor EdgeRank. You’ll be broadcasting messages that nobody will ever see.

In stage three, local businesses have to earn the right to post marketing content by doing a couple of things. First, they have to be very proficient at step 2 and have an audience that is engaged. Then, they have to craft their marketing content in a way that can get the message out there while doing minimal damage to EdgeRank or following. There is no way to post marketing content that won’t turn some people off. You simply want to minimize the damage. Done right, there are more positive effects to EdgeRank from the right marketing material than any of the negatives that are bound to happen.

It must be timed appropriately. That timing is based upon the activities on the page on a regular basis, but the right mix of conversational and converting content should be worked in. Too much and you lose too many fans. Too little and there’s no ROI. Finding the right mix is the key and it’s something that must be diagnosed on an individual basis rather than prompted in a blog post.

* * *

These are just the first three stages. There are more, but again they are really dependent on more factors than that can be described in a post. Whatever you do, don’t jump ahead. Engaging content is worthless if you have 20 fans. Marketing content is worthless if you have the fans but they’re not engaged. If you start here, you can get to the next level which is true return on investment. You have to start somewhere.

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All About Me and Why I'm The Best!

Okay, you got me! This article has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with you.

On a daily basis I analyze dealer websites which I’m convinced had the same content writer. Have you ever seen websites with sentences that read like this, “Our team of automotive professionals have the knowledge you need to buy the right car...”? or “We understand that everyone has different financial situations, that’s why we’re proud to offer auto loans for every credit situation...”? or my favorite, “We are an award winning ________ dealer here to serve you!”...

OH SHOOT; that’s your website?!? Don’t worry, I’ll look away while you quickly delete those portions of your site content.

If you’re familiar with dealership website content that reads like a conceited teenaged football jockey wrote it, then read on! I’d like to dispel a myth and offer a content creation suggestion that you can take to the bank.

The Myth: Talking about yourself and your achievements makes you look more professional

Wrong! It makes you sound like the kind of person who stares at himself/herself anywhere a reflection can be seen. Nobody cares about you. They don’t care about your stupid awards. Why? Because they are your awards, not theirs.

You see, everyone has a favorite letter of the alphabet. Can you guess what it is?  Yup, the letter ‘I’. Instead of spending so much time talking about yourself and calling it a day, try refocusing your content on how being an award winner will help the consumer move closer to what they’d like to achieve or obtain.

This leads me to...

A Suggestion: Make Your Site Content All About The Consumer!

There are several ways that this can easily be done, but here’s the suggestion I’ll make here.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Write out a list of things that automotive consumers would want/need to know to help shape their purchase decision. This list could include topics like:

  • Buying vs. Leasing

  • Used car buying 101

  • Private seller vs. Certified Dealership

  • Financing options

  • Credit rebuilding program

  • Graduate student program

  • Senior discounts

  • Military discounts

  • Affinity programs

  • Used car specials

  • New car specials

  • ...and the list could go on and on

Once you’ve compiled the list, think about your customer. Make every sentence you write a benefit to them. Show them how they can get what they want by working with your dealership. If you truly aim to help others achieve what they want, you will get everything you want (If you know who said that, write it in the comments below).  

Last thoughts

We could go in a million directions from here, but doing so would end us right back to where we are now. Confused about what makes good content, and discouraged not know how to get started. To summarize; stop talking so much about yourself, start talking about your customers.

How have you used content to drive more sales?


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This is part 4 of 4 in an ADM series about setting Facebook goals:

  1. Define Your Facebook Goals Before Determining a Strategy
  2. Facebook Marketing Goals: The Safe Approach
  3. Facebook Marketing Goals: The Aggressive Approach
  4. Facebook Marketing Goals: More Aggressive Approaches


Every strategy needs a goal or else it’s just an aimless plan. We’ve covered the need to set Facebook marketing goals and described both the safe approach as well as some of the more aggressive approaches to these goals. Now it’s time to bring it home (in hopefully less than 1000 words) with a couple more aggressive Facebook goals that you can set for your marketing.

As I said before, it’s extremely important to realize that playing it safe is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not that I want to encourage businesses to take that approach, but being aggressive means taking a bigger risk that the effort you put in will not yield the appropriate return on investment. I know that it can, but that’s no guaranty that it will even if you do everything right.

Thankfully, there’s always an abort button. If your aggressive techniques don’t seem to be paying off, you can always revert back to the safer goals.


Goal: Create a Communication Hub for Your Business

When you ask business owners about the risks of social media, most will latch on to the potential for negative press. I’ve even been told by a very prominent business owner that they don’t have a Facebook page because they don’t want people to have the ability to talk badly about them on Facebook. I was waiting for the punchline. There was none.

As you know, sticking your head in the sand is not the right approach, but sticking it way out there for others to attack is risky. It can, however, be extremely rewarding as companies like Domino’s Pizza have demonstrated. Are there risks of getting bitten by being extra communicative on social media? Sure. You have to know that going in if you want that to be your primary goal.

The benefits can be tremendous. When you turn Facebook into a communication hub that is active with feedback from former, current, and prospective customers, you have the ability to be eloquent, sincere, and transparent, three traits that most would see as admirable. It means that you stand behind your product and your company and you’re willing to accept the good with the bad.

The bad news is that if you’re doing it right, the bad will come. The good news is that the “bad” types of communication where customers and former customers complain can almost always be turned around into an opportunity to impress future customers. Bad reviews aren’t bad unless you let them be bad. By applying empathy, professionalism, and a true desire to improve your business, even the most scathing reviews and communications can be turned into a major win for your business.

Setting this type of goal requires constant attention. You have to set your smartphone to alert you the moment that anyone communicates with you because time is of the essence. It’s not just about not letting things linger without a response. Perhaps more importantly, it lets others see that you’re extremely attentive to your Facebook communication hub; this encourages them to want to talk to you through there as well. The more that people are talking to you on Facebook, the greater the opportunity to shine through the constraints of EdgeRank and let your messages be seen.

This is one of those situations where Facebook sponsored posts might happen well after the post goes live. Let’s say you ask a question like this:

“What should we serve at next Saturday’s big tent sale: hot dogs, hamburgers, barbeque, all of the above, something else? Let us know in the comments, please. We’re planning on making a decisions based on your input by this Wednesday.”

In that scenario, you’ll want to get the word out. It’s not just about giving people the choice on food. It’s about letting as many people as possible know about your sale. Once you have a couple of responses, now is the time to promote the post. Then again, if you’ve had success with previous promoted posts, it’s okay to launch the ads the moment you publish the post.

Be creative. Setting a goal of communication is fruitful when done right and embarrassing when done wrong. Do it right or don’t do it at all.


Goal: Drive Foot Traffic to Your Store

This is the big daddy of the goals, particularly for local businesses. It takes an abundance of creativity, a willingness to not give up when something doesn’t work, and the ability to make things happen in the real world as well as on social media.

If you’re an internet manager who has no access to setting specials or running promotions, this is a tough one to pull off. To bring real world traffic, you need real world incentives. If you haven’t the budget or authority to affect the real world aspect of your business, you should not go for this goal. It’s not that you can’t drive foot traffic with intangibles, but it’s infinitely easier when you have “the goods” in the form of reality rather than just virtual.

For example, the Dodge dealer that we used as the example in the previous post could set an event or create an offer that they run through the Facebook system for $14.99 oil changes available to Facebook fans only. They have to claim the offer or announce that they’ll attend the event and this can help you let your fans spread the word for you.

Another Dodge dealer example would be to set an event around a sale. Announcing the sale itself won’t do much, but giving something away such as free sunglasses can help you to get people to like your event on Facebook, again exposing the sale through their channels.

The hardest part about driving foot traffic through Facebook isn’t in getting the traffic. It’s in proving that the traffic came as a result of Facebook. When you’re working with budgets and you have to report to the boss, you’ll need to prove the effects. This is where events and offers come into play, but that’s not enough. You have to give the people who come to the store a reason to let someone know they came because of Facebook. Otherwise, they simply won’t tell you. If you can’t track it, then it didn’t really happen.

* * *

Regardless of which goal you set, remember that Facebook is a marathon of sprints. By that, I mean that it’s not always steady and constant but it’s also not something where you can expect to sustain the sprints of success over and over again. You have to know what you want and then set out to make it happen. Otherwise, you’ll be like everyone else who is flailing around on their Facebook pages trying to find reasons that they can use to demonstrate it’s working.

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This is part 3 of 4 in an ADM series about setting Facebook goals:

  1. Define Your Facebook Goals Before Determining a Strategy
  2. Facebook Marketing Goals: The Safe Approach
  3. Facebook Marketing Goals: The Aggressive Approach
  4. Facebook Marketing Goals: More Aggressive Approaches


We’ve taken a look at the safe approach to setting Facebook goals. Now, it’s time to discuss letting the tiger out. Let’s sharpen our claws, stretch our muscles, and prepare for battle. Getting aggressive on Facebook is about going to social media war.

Keep in mind that the majority of businesses should stay with the safe goals rather than getting aggressive. They can be extremely effective for maintaining a viable Facebook presence without spending too much time on strategy, planning posts, and creating dialogues on Facebook. If you are going to set aggressive goals, your strategies are going to take time and money to make them happen.

It’s not for everyone but it might be for you. Here are some examples of aggressive Facebook goals.


Goal: Drive Traffic to the Website

This is one of the first things that come to mind when thinking of goals for Facebook. Most realize that it is known as a good traffic generation tool in general and they believe they’ll be able to do the same for their site.

Unfortunately, the standard practices used to drive traffic “in general” do not apply to most business websites. “In general”, Facebook is good at driving traffic to viral content. People do not go to Facebook to find links to inventory items. They go there to see pictures of little Timmy sliding into third base. They can get swayed into clicking on links with controversial titles or intriguing thumbnails, but again that’s not normally something associated with sites that are designed to generate leads or sales.

The only way to drive traffic to your website is by starting with strong content on the website itself. We’ve discussed using your website as your content hub and why it’s so important to have the type of content on your website for both social and search purposes that resonates with your overall target audience. Now, you’ll have to really apply these principles to make this Facebook goal achievable.

The starting point with a goal like this is to sculpt the appropriate fans. This cannot be stressed enough. If you have too few total fans or too many low-quality fans, you’ll want to fix that first before trying to drive traffic to you website. In many ways, driving traffic to your website from Facebook is about establishing trust within your community by posting only the absolute best content possible. Anything short of amazing simply won’t do.

Once you have that trust established by posting images and text that resonate and generate interactions, you can start posting quality content from your website directly to Facebook. If you’re a Dodge dealer, you could post a story like “The 5 Most Searched Dodge Chargers in History“. Assuming that your fans are strong, this will be the type of content that exceeds their expectations when they liked your page in the first place.

It’s supremely important to remember that this type of content must be promoted through Facebook ads. Even the most prolific Facebook pages by the most loved brands are not getting the type of traffic they could get from Facebook when they don’t advertise. Thankfully, if your fans are high-quality and you have a history of posting high value content on your pages, you won’t have to spend a ton to get a good amount of traffic. It’s not targeted traffic – visitors to the site may or may not be looking for a Dodge Charger at the time – so this strategy is best applied if you have retargeting campaigns working or if you’re using Facebook to help drive traffic for social signals purposes to help with SEO.

This is not, however, a way to generate a ton of leads or sales. We’ll discuss that goal shortly.


Goal: Dramatically Improve the Brand Footprint

Facebook may be a challenging venue through which to drive leads and sales via website traffic, but it’s the ultimate venue through which to improve your brand footprint. This goal is arguably the easiest to achieve of the aggressive goals but there’s a very time-consuming set of strategies behind it to make it truly successful.

With this goal, you’re trying to get your name and logo in front of as many prospect eyeballs as possible and as often as possible. To do this, you can employ a handful of different strategies. One strategy that you should never, ever employ is to take other people’s images and slap your logo on top of it. If you do this, you’re risking a brand disaster. I’m not going to dwell on the reasons behind it. I’ll just implore you to stop immediately if you’re doing it.

What you should be doing is taking pictures at your store. Every picture should be interesting and ever picture should include your logo as part of the image, not added after the fact. If you’re a Dodge dealer, you should be taking great pics of amazing Chrysler vehicles with your logo either in the background on a sign or on the license plate clearly visible.

That’s a very small strategy component if your goal is branding. The bigger and more time-consuming component is to go out into the Facebook world and start interacting where your potential customers are. That means getting chatty on the local newspaper Facebook page, offering help and support on local charity Facebook pages, talking about how great the BBQ is at Stan’s Restaurant around the corner, etc.

One thing to keep at the top of your mind when doing this – stay sincere and transparent. It isn’t just about getting your company name on the comment or share list. It’s about making an impact with your comments. It’s about helping others because you want to help others and not just to get your company name listed.

People are smart. They can tell when you’re not being sincere. This is why this goal is one of the most time-consuming. It requires a massive amount of genuine activity. It can’t be faked. You can’t skip a few days. If you go this route and your goal is to make your brand stand out ahead of the competition, you must be willing to commit.* * *I’ve been told to try to limit my 1000-word posts and I only made it through the first two aggressive goals before hitting the mark, so tomorrow I’ll discuss the next two aggressive goals: communication hub and foot traffic. Until then, think about what you really want to do with your Facebook page. Stay focused. Stay diligent. Facebook can be a wonderful marketing tool if used properly.

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Facebook Marketing Goals: The Safe Approach

This is part 2 of 4 in an ADM series about setting Facebook goals:

  1. Define Your Facebook Goals Before Determining a Strategy
  2. Facebook Marketing Goals: The Safe Approach
  3. Facebook Marketing Goals: The Aggressive Approach
  4. Facebook Marketing Goals: More Aggressive Approaches


Setting goals on Facebook is extremely important. As I wrote last night, it’s the root cause of one of the biggest challenges businesses are facing in Facebook marketing: a lack of a proper strategy. If you don’t know where you want to go, you won’t be able to get there very easily.

There are two primary approaches to setting a Facebook strategy that I’ve put in the boring categories of “safe” and “aggressive”. Here, we’re going to go over some of the safe approaches to Facebook that businesses can employ if they want to be truly successful in their goal-oriented strategy. These aren’t my favorites; I’m an aggressive goal-setter. Still, they may be the best way for your business to operate on Facebook.


Goal: PR-Only

Social media has the potential to be an amazing communication tool when done right. It is the best way to have a two-way public relations presence. You can get your messages out and mold the perception of your company’s personality the way you see fit while having an open method through which people can reach you. PR should always be a portion of every Facebook strategy.

There is an option of using it strictly for public relations. This is the easiest way to go. It’s the least productive goal to set, but it’s by far the safest approach and easiest to implement. If your company either does not believe in the value of using Facebook to reach more customers or you don’t have the time to implement an aggressive strategy, the PR-only approach is ideal.

In essence, this goal is to use Facebook sparingly. You aren’t going for visibility. You’re using it for defense only. Growth in the local market isn’t important. You aren’t playing the EdgeRank game nor are you advertising on Facebook at all. With this approach, the only audience that concerns you come from two sources: your website and the search engines.

With the PR-only approach, you play it very safe. You can post sparingly – once or twice a week is plenty (no less than that, though) – and finding content is easy because it doesn’t have to be viral. It technically doesn’t even have to be interesting. It’s an expression of your company’s personality to a limited audience. You can post links to your blog, pictures from the office, industry news, congratulations to employees, customer testimonials, etc.

Because you’re not worried about exposure, you don’t have to worry about getting into your fans’ news feeds. Those who want to get a feel for your company will be able to find it in searches for your name on Google or Bing as well as by clicking on the link that you post on your website and blog. You’re painting a picture with no fears of hurting your affinity and limited worries about getting negative feedback on your posts. Very few people will see it, but those who do have the opportunity to get a good feeling about your company because you’re not taking risks.

Again, and I cannot stress this enough, you will not be reaching people with this strategy. You will have a presence for those who want to find you, but there will be no growth, no additional leads or sales, no engagement, and you won’t be popping up in news feeds. The PR-only approach is a way to hide from all of the potential negatives in social media while still maintaining a presence that isn’t embarrassing. It’s as safe as it gets.


Goal: Basic Presence

This is similar to the PR-only approach, but there’s a chance that it can expose the brand to some additional people. Not many. You won’t be saying a lot but you will be interesting enough to get a little love.

If your goal is to have a basic presence, there are several strategies that can work. One of the easiest is to go with the daily industry picture. This strategy is extremely easy and maintains your presence without much effort. You simply schedule an image that’s relevant to your industry once a day, every day. That’s it. A Jeep dealer would post an image of a Jeep once a day. You can’t mess it up.

This goal is not one that will allow for much growth, but the chances of it ever hurting you are limited. Much like the PR-only approach, having a basic presence is designed mostly for those who find you on search or get directed to the Facebook page from you website. Because it’s likely going to be images that are of interest to your visitors, there’s a chance they might like some of them and get you an EdgeRank boost that can push your posts into news feeds.

This is the most common goal for local businesses today. Ironically, it’s the one that many wrongly classify as aggressive since they’re stepping outside of the bounds of pure business needs and trying to entertain their audience. The reason that this classification is wrong is because it’s still much safer than posting messages. Being fun isn’t necessarily aggressive. It can be, but we’ll discuss that type of goal in the next post.


Goal: Be the Industry Resource

Of all the safe goals, this is the one that requires the most effort. You’re trying to share your knowledge within your industry to your fans. Using the Jeep dealer example, they would be posting tips to maintain a 4WD when it’s not used very often, for example.

This goal can be ramped up more than other safe goals because you’re trying to bring value to the table. Facebook ads can work and this goal can help with branding and public perception if you stay consistent with it. In fact, you can get very active and appreciative fans as the industry resource. There’s a chance that you can build some decent EdgeRank and get shared amongst your target audience.

It takes work. Those who are conservative with their goals but want to be aggressive with the implementation of the strategy will be constantly researching to find more resources to either create or share from other sources. It’s an excellent approach if you have a matching blog with tips and best practices.

Those setting this as their goal do not have to post every day. In fact, once or twice a week can work just as it can with the PR-only approach, but never let your page go dormant for longer than a week. If you have to repost something with a slightly different spin in the description, that’s better than missing a week of posts.

* * *

There are other safe goals out there, but for local businesses if you want to play defense and maintain a presence without spending too much effort keeping it up, these are the best ways that we’ve found to work. The social media game is all about ROI, so if your investment is low, the expected returns can be low as well. When playing it safe, you don’t have to be loved or even liked that much. You just have to be present.

Tomorrow, I’ll go over the aggressive goals that are (to me) much more fun but that also encompass more risk. Playing with Facebook from an aggressive posture takes time and effort and there’s a risk that the returns won’t justify the expenditures. However, there’s also a tremendous opportunity to move the needle.

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