Most dealerships are up and running with various social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, you name it, so I got to thinking about how important it is to understand the individuals that live and breathe the social media lifestyle. After all, you need to engage these users if you expect to increase your online sales and drive foot traffic into your dealership.
Local business information is of primary importance to these folks, and they have high expectations. The glaring point of the chart above is that you are expected to be active, consistent and engaged on your social media channels in order to gain their respect and ultimately win their business.
The takeaway message here is that it is crucial that you are publishing regular, relevant content on your social channels. Don’t let your channels fall to the wayside for other marketing efforts — social media needs to be a line item on your marketing budget in order to keep your sites up to par and attractive to searchers.
Business marketers that are successful with their social media efforts average six hours per week managing and updating their content. Evaluate your current commitment and consider taking it to the next level, which may mean shifting dollars out of outdated media (hint, hint Yellow Pages) and invest it in the real deal, which is social media. Trust me, it’s not going anywhere.
Next, let’s take a look at the role that social networkers, including mobile users, play in this rapidly changing environment. As shown in the chart above, these individuals are not only more likely to read reviews, but they are more likely to write them. This is a recipe for great success if you are committed to managing and growing your social network and online reputation on local search sites or on the flip side, quite possibly your worst nightmare if you aren’t paying attention.
The message here is you need to invest time, money and energy into your social communities. Another key component is the quality of the information you are posting on your website, on local search directories and on your social channels.
An immediate action item is to “claim” your business page on Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing. Only 10 percent of dealerships have done this, creating an opportunity for you to be ahead of the curve. By claiming your business, your listing is “owner verified,” and you can monitor the incoming customer reviews (both positive and negative) to protect your well-earned online reputation.
Find Your Influencers
Start listening to who is active on your social media channels and start following these individuals since they are your influencers. Influencers are those who are engaged with your social media efforts, making them the most likely source to pass on promotion and/or event information to other passionate enthusiasts.
You need these people — show them some love in a unique way. Send a direct, personalized email from the owner of the company thanking them for their enthusiasm and loyalty. Perhaps even showcase their image on your social channels/website with a blurb about your gratefulness for their support, and then throw in a gift or two to really impress them and your other followers.
Stretch Your Budget
Integrate: Don’t treat your social media activity as something separate from your other marketing initiatives. Your entire staff should feature links to your business social media profiles in their email signature, on their business cards, in print ads and as a standard block of copy in your email newsletter.
Broadcast: Use your social media activity to create awareness for your content in other places such as your newsletter that can be archived on your blog or website. Find other people’s great content and point it out to your followers, fans and subscribers to build your online reputation as someone who is plugged into the industry.
Go green, recycle: Take your content that appears in one form and revise it in ways that make it more suitable for different social media channels or for another audience. Never look at any content as a single use, single medium, single act, or you be writing yourself into the ground and burn out very quickly.
Learn: After reading this article, you will likely be totally paralyzed and not have the slightest clue where to even begin, so focus first on learning. Set up an RSS reader and subscribe to blogs, visit social bookmarking sites such as De.licio.us and take time to read about what’s popular in your industry. Create custom Twitter searches for your brand, your competitors and your industry, and closely follow people who have a reputation for putting out great content. If you do only this, you will be much smarter about your business and industry than most, and you may eventually gain the knowledge and confidence to tap the full range of what’s possible in this new, exciting world of social media.
Award-winning blogger and CEO of Duo Web Solutions, Heather Blessington is a web technology veteran and a certified PMP with the Project Management Institute (PMI). Her company provides monthly columns focused on best practices in web marketing for powersports dealers.