It Takes a Dealership to Raise a Social Media Presence

It’s not just about branding. It’s about FOOT traffic!

Social Media Series with JD Rucker

This is the last part in a 4 part series about automotive social media strategies that are emerging to help car dealers get true benefit.

It’s not just about branding. It’s not about auto-feeding marketing content. With the right strategies in a place, dealers can drive foot traffic and website visitors in a way that can help them sell more vehicles and drive more service customers.

Over the last few months as we’ve explored some best practices surrounding social media marketing for the automotive industry, we’ve learned that there are three stages to a strong presence, that its goal should be to drive more business, and that the data is the key to taking full advantage of the platforms. Now, we’re going to finish it up by discussing the easiest way get the value out of social media: using your dealership staff to take your presence up a few notches.

By “easiest”, I’m not saying that it’s easy to get the buy-in necessary to make it effective. That’s the hardest part. Thankfully, it only takes a handful of employees, particularly in sales and the service drive, to make a huge impact. If you can get a few people to start participating (and sharing this article with them can be a great first step) then the success you are able to generate as a result will get more people to want to be involved.

Let’s start with the village… I mean dealership.

It Takes a Dealership

In 2007, Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said, “I still believe it takes a village to raise a child.” She was referring to the book she published a decade early as First Lady titled It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. I didn’t read the book. I don’t necessarily agree with the concept. I do, however, believe that the premise holds true for building up a powerful presence for a dealership on social media.

Eye Candy…How Stock Photos Can Kill a Vehicle’s Love Life


“Hey Chief – eyes on your own paper, okay?”

If you’ve laughed at the Sears Optical TV spot where the near-sighted husband mistakes a mannequin for a dude eyeing up his wife, we’re already on the same wavelength.

Now think about this: let’s say you’re perusing a dating website, one that’s replete with pictures of prospective love interests.

At some point, you happen across a page with four incredibly attractive women/men and one avatar. Now, the avatar may have an edgy hairstyle and really big doe eyes (if you like that sort of thing), among other articles of perfection.

Here’s the question: Aside from satisfying your curiosity (“Why the heck would someone use an avatar in place of a photo of him or herself ON A DATING WEBSITE?”), wouldn’t you be most likely to click on one of the profiles represented by an actual photo? Of course! Admittedly, you’d be running the risk of missing out on an actual living, breathing avatar-like human, but what are the chances of that? Seriously?!

Next, put yourself in your automotive customers’ shoes.

If you’re online looking for a new or pre-owned vehicle, would you rather see the actual vehicle in which you’re interested, or an approximate representation thereof?

Should ROI Principles Dictate Your SEO Spend?

 

SEO ROI
Let’s give Jerry a warm welcome for his first contribution in article format here on DealerRefresh. I’ve know Jerry for sometime now so when we bumped into each other at NADA, we got into some heavy conversation. One subject we both are passionate about is SEO and how dealers are measuring the ROI around whatever SEO strategy they may have. I invited Jerry to put together some of his thoughts on paper (digital) around the subject to share with our readers. After reading, take notice to the questions at the end and share your answers in the comments. – Kershner

Have you ever considered that your typical ROI principles may not be the best metric in developing your dealers SEO strategy?

I am sure a number of eyebrows were raised with that question. ROI (return on investment) has been and will likely continue to be the way most dealerships detwemine if their expenditures, are good/bad for the dealership. But Return on Investment is only ONE metric. I can tell you that other industries look at ROI as a mere component of the overall justification of the expense.

Allow me explain.

Let’s say you’re considering a widget to capture more leads from your dealership’s website, a trade appraisal tool for example. You sign up and install the widget, and in return you increase overall conversion that results in more leads. At the end of a given time period (typically month to month) you add up the total gross made on each trade appraisal lead sold, then subtract the total cost of the tool to determine your ROI for that particular widget.

If the ROI is in the green and the gross exceeds the cost by a considerable amount, then it’s a justifiable expense. Most of the time.

How does ROI relate to your dealerships SEO strategy?

Turns Out Facebook Advertising Is A Big Lie

If you follow the “other” industry forums, there’s a good chance you’ve read one of Mr. Stephen Jackson’s many enthralling articles. I happen to intercept this one, and asked if we could exclusively host it here on DealerRefresh. I believe you’ll enjoy this article as it’s very relevant to the conversations we’ve had lately. Read this one all the way through. Think about how you’re advertising on Facebook (if you are) and use the comment section to share your opinions and findings as you stroke a check to Facebook for advertising. Enjoy! -Kershner

I ask, how many “likes” does your dealership facebook page have? More importantly, how did you get those likes?

Only an idiot would like this page

Marketers value the ubiquitous Facebook Like for two main reasons:

 

  1. Your likes are a numerical way to represent your popularity. Every thumbs-up is a public display of brand loyalty and recognition. Marketers hope that an extended social media reach equates to brand advocacy among consumers – an ideal that has yet to be proven.
  2. Facebook Likes help your messages travel further. Here’s the way it’s supposed to work: as you gather likes, your fans see more of your content and this drives engagement. If you can build a bigger following, you have the chance to speak to a larger segment of your target audience.

At least, this is what we’re told. Facebook sold us on the value of likes-as-advertising back in 2012, right before it went public. The company was valued at $100 billion, but only because it showed the potential to exponentially increase ad revenues. As a result, Facebook opened it’s own ad exchange, allowing users to bid on ad space to promote their page on the social networking site.

Are you Feeling a Disturbance in the Force?

I’m feeling a Disturbance in the FORCE — within the Vehicle Classified / Listing website crowd, that is.

disturbance_vehiclelisting_force

The Top Vehicle Listings Websites – Who’s NEXT?

The mammoths in the vehicle (new and/or used) listing/classified website arena here in the states are Cars.com and AutoTrader.com. They have the money, the inventory, OEM support, partnerships and they have built a “BRAND” that most Americans are overly familiar with their products.

Love’m or hate’m – for many they offer the additional exposure of new and used vehicle inventory a dealer needs in order gain more opportunities, turning more inventory each and every month (when worked right).

We have several other strong players that have organically grown (SEO, SEM, Referrals, Partners, and such) in popularity , like CarGurus.com, Usedcars.com, USAA, EveryCarListed.com, CarsDirect.com.

Then you have a few “Brands” that host vehicle listings, but most consumers seek out these websites for vehicle information. These would include KBB.com, CarFax, TrueCars and Edmunds.com.

Let’s not forget about eBay, they sorta play on the same field with Cars.com and ATC, but not really. Either way I believe we can exclude eBay (and Craigslist) from the mix for the sake of this conversation.

Watch these Three Dealers Use Video To Help Sell More Cars

Dealerships all over are using videos as a way to wow prospects and customers. And why not?

Statistics show that, after watching a video, 49% of shoppers visited a dealer (according to the Milward Brown Digital/Google Vehicle Shopper Path to Purchase Study, September 2013), and video sells more cars (according to a recent article in Automotive News).

Given these trends, how can your dealership further differentiate from competitors who are also using walkaround videos?

Here’s a tip: Do it right.

Yes, there’s a big difference in life between doing something, and taking the time to learn how to do it right. If you are interested in getting the biggest bang for your buck with walkaround videos, it makes sense to learn learn from others that are doing it right!

Here are 3 examples, direct from those who are doing it right:

Be Personal

There are many best practices working in this video. James Versiackas from Prime Motor Group showcases the immaculate condition of Toyota Highlander by leaving enough room to walk around, showing the tire treads, paint and interior, all in excellent condition. James calls his customer by name (“Hi, Joseph!”) and leaves his phone number for the customer to schedule an appointment for a closer look and a test drive.

The Social Media Overview Effect

When astronauts look down on our beautiful, fragile planet, they often experience the “Overview Effect,” in which previously held notions of human differences melt away and a feeling of oneness prevails. At DSES, speaker Cam Chell brought up the concept, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Planet Earth, From a Different Point of View

On an admittedly less cosmic level, your dealership social media profiles provide a sort of overview effect for your customers, whether you intend for it to or not. The pictures, videos, links and text you post works together to create those concepts that are difficult to quantify, like aesthetic and tone.

A dealership’s social media profile is not an art museum, but hopefully should convincingly answer the question of “do I want to do business here?” when someone consumes years of your history with a few swipes of a finger.