(Originally published in Fall of 2010 while writing for Xspond.)
There are no cut and dry rules for using social media as a marketing tool. What works for one, may not work for another. And getting started can be a scary daunting task that is all too easy to abandon if you are not getting the amount of interactions and conversations you want.
I have uncensored my self in an effort to help your dealership approach social media with the right attitude, even if it is hard to for you to hear.
People Don’t Care About You (the dealership)
Your customers do not care how big you are, how busy you are, or how important you are in the dealership world. They just don’t. They care about what you will do for them. So to make it very clear, do NOT post things like:
“We’re the biggest x dealer in blah blah blah U.S.A.”
“Dealer Name is working hard to bring you blah blah blah car stuff.”
And rarely, if ever post “We’re having the biggest sale in x years .” (Fans will skip right over content if you post sales too much. Keep it fresh, so when you do post a sale, they read it.)
People Distrust You
Few people trust car dealerships. It is just a long standing stigma that you have to deal with. The best way to do that is to put faces and personalities out there, humanizing your dealership. If your fans can see that Joe in the finance department just welcomed a baby boy, they can relate. If your customers get to hear the news that Sara in the BDC is part of a winning local roller derby team, they can relate. If they get to see pictures of the dealership owner cheering on his basketball playing nephew at the local High School game, they can relate. People like to connect on a personal level, so don’t be afraid to share.
People Need Incentive to Act
Why should people follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Would you follow you? Give them some incentive. Create content they care about (see Truth #1), and once you establish a stream of good content, draw in your relevant crowd with a giveaway or contest so that they can see your great content and make a decision to stay or go.
People Want You to Care About Them
By replying to people within your social media community for everyone else to see, you show that you care. Let the person running your page have an opinion on some things, making them realistic. For example: If a user posts a recipe for chocolate covered pickles – your social media team can reply that the recipe sounds disgusting. Keep the opinions in the harmless sphere of non judgmental Likes/Dislikes (don’t touch politics or religion or name calling) to create a good discussion. After all, if everyone agrees there is not much to discuss.
If You Don’t Listen, They Won’t Either
Pay attention to who your followers are and what they care about. If you post a comment about country music and no one responds, it is possible you don’t have many country music fans following you. Pay attention to what your followers are saying, and constantly alter your strategy to match their likes and interests. If you continue to post about the stuff you know and like – ignoring your fans interests, they will un-follow and you will have a hard time getting them back.
They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know
Do your customers even know you are on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube? They aren’t likely sitting at home searching for their local car dealerships on Facebook or Twitter just for fun. Tell them! Put a few signs around the Showroom and Service department. Add the logos to your newspaper ads and mailers. And for goodness sake, tell them in person. Don’t you think that service customer would love to know that they could have saved $5 on their oil change if they were a Facebook fan? Tell them!
Your most Important Audience is Not made up of Men
This might be the hardest point to get across. Dealerships are notoriously filled with male employees. It is just the way the industry is. That being said, your key audience is NOT men. So, what makes you and all your employees read on, laugh, get involved – is not what gets your customers attention. You need to really pay attention, because in a family situation, the woman is making the decision. If you can get her on your side, then you are going to be that much better for it. While you still have male customers, you need to be sure to embrace ALL of your customers.