Do Car Dealers Need to be Social Networking?

Socialmedia_logosWhy aren’t dealers social networking?

When I attended the 2007 J.D. Power Roundtable a few months back, every time I turned around someone was talking about dealers and SOCIAL NETWORKING!

“Dealers need to be social networking!”

“Why aren’t dealers social networking?”

There are many reasons why dealers are not social networking and I’m not totally convinced that all dealers need or should be social networking. But, rather than writing why dealers shouldn’t be social networking let’s look at a few of the advantages why maybe they should be.

1. Branding and Awareness Opportunities for your dealer

It can be important that your dealer secures its name and brand/message on the more popular social networking sites. I had initially set up a myspace page for Mercedes-Benz of Hagerstown and while I was adding friends, I had several people respond back with “I had no idea there was a Mercedes dealer in Hagerstown”.

Social networks like myspace, facebook and now Twitter, can help get your dealers name and branding out to others that could otherwise not be aware that your dealer even exists.

2. Search Engine Saturation

Tired off all the other websites (like the infamous automotive.com,  invoicedealers.com and now dealer rating sites) showing up on the first page of the search engines, or better yet, first placement when someone Google’s your dealers name?

When you sign up for many of these Social Networking sites, if you set it up correctly, it will include your dealers name in the URL (i.e. www.myspace.com/yourdealersname, http://youtube.com/user/yourdealername, etc.). Your dealer name is many times also used in the title tag of your social profile page.

But why is this important?

Having a number of profiles spread out among various social media sites will help you to have better control over the first page (or more) of search results for your dealerships name. This will help you keep your competitors and 3rd party lead sites like automotive.com from sitting on the first page. Even if they do make it on the first page, you have a better chance of drowning them out.

This can also help prevent flogging!

Websites essentially need three things if they are to experience first page visibility in the search engines.

1. Great Content
2. Great SEO
3. Great Incoming Natural Links.

One way to obtain natural links is to link back to your dealers web site within your social network sites. Many social media sites will allow you to include a paragraph or so about your dealer but MOST IMPORTANTLY, many allow you to add links to your dealer’s website. Once your dealers various social networking profiles are indexed in the search engines, many will count as inbound links to your main site. This will give your dealerships website site a small push in the Search Engines.

4. Traffic to your dealers website

Though I personally think this could be of the initial lesser reasons for dealers using social media and networking websites, it can send traffic to your dealer’s website. Unless you have a powerful analytics tool, it’s hard to track how good the traffic is and if it’s truly resulting in any conversion or sales.

There are ways of using social networks like YouTube and myspace to attract and drive traffic to your dealer website. One example of a dealer really missing the boat with traffic (and viral marketing) is Johnson Autos and their Badger Commercials. They have some great branding commercials that even promoted their dealers website. If they were really smart, they would have uploaded these commercials to YouTube and used the videos on several social networking sites (and their own dealer website). Luckily for them, some “Joe” decided they were funny enough to get onto YouTube and took it upon themselves to record and upload the Badger Videos for the world to see. I’d love to know what kind of traffic spikes Johnson Auto group is getting as these videos continue to circulate.

However, even if Johnson Autos would have known how to take full advantage of placing their badger videos online; how relevant would the website traffic be? I know I personally went to their website with no intention to buy.

5. Interaction with the Public – Online Dealer Reputation

The reason why it’s called “social” is because it allows people to socialize or interact with each other. I would venture to say this has been one of the biggest fears keeping dealers from embracing social media (other then ignorance). “Talking” to your customer is totally different then having to “interact” with them.

Dealers fear customers talking bad about them, and from the dealers perspective, rightfully so. Car dealers and car sales people are already under great scrutiny and it’s up to each consumers own interpretation to how well they are being treated. I have literally given cars away and treated the customer with the utmost respect (while building value in my product) only to find out they still felt as if they could have saved more money or thought I moved the numbers around to benefit myself and the dealer.

However, if this is what you fear then I have news for you; chances are your customers are already talking so you may as well join the conversation. IMPORTANT: Be sure you have the right person at the dealer to interact with these conversations! It’s not easy knowing how to deal with a consumer’s negative feedback.

Having the ability to interact with consumers is not just about dealing with the bad but also taking advantage of bringing further attention your dealer’s products and services. Using social media to show consumers that your dealer employees REAL people, gives back to the community and operates a business under ethical standards shows that you care and can help the consumer feel more comfortable doing business with you.

Don’t be afraid of social network or media sites. In many ways it can set you apart from the competition. Rather than ignore it, be creative as to how your dealership can benefit from it.

Jeff Kershner

I’m the founder of DealerRefresh. I got my start in the dealer business when I was 18. From there I've worked throughout several departments within fixed to variable ops. Whether it’s managing the desk, perfecting sales process or studying online marketing and media trends, I absolutely love this business and the challenges it brings. On top of keeping up with DealerRefresh, I consult with dealerships and key industry businesses. My passion has been and continues to be helping dealers leverage new media to sell and improve customer service.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

62 comments
Epicbeaver1
Epicbeaver1

Producer choice multiple motivating plans are available from your producer when you happen to be exploring creative concepts working with the rb beats for music Come across out which is buy instagram followers the markets buy instagram followers most wanted idea for making the buy instagram likes most out of resources with your producer .

shawn foster
shawn foster

looking for some ideas new to this i have been in ford sales for about 15 years my top sales are over 200 a year top salesman for 13 of 15 years in the maine state

shawn foster
shawn foster

looking for some ideas new to this i have been in ford sales for about 15 years my top sales are over 200 a year top salesman for 13 of 15 years in the maine state

Nick Cybela
Nick Cybela

There's huge opportunity for any industry to really develop thought leadership, networking, customer service, loyalty, collaboration, public relations and acquire customers through social marketing. I'm especially shocked that more dealers don't enforce their reputation within the marketplace.

For those interested there are some managed solutions out there that do it! I manage a dedicated team of dealership evangelists through our program here at Cuneo and we're seeing some spectacular results.

Nick Cybela
Nick Cybela

There's huge opportunity for any industry to really develop thought leadership, networking, customer service, loyalty, collaboration, public relations and acquire customers through social marketing. I'm especially shocked that more dealers don't enforce their reputation within the marketplace. For those interested there are some managed solutions out there that do it! I manage a dedicated team of dealership evangelists through our program here at Cuneo and we're seeing some spectacular results.

Curtis DeGroote
Curtis DeGroote

Great Initiative Dubis. This is going to be huge. Sales 101, people buy you (the salesperson) first and to date no one out there gets that as it is difficult even today to find a face and name on the web besides the Internet Sales Manager on 60% or more Dealer sites. The Hard working good guys get the shaft at the dealership because they have no competitve advantage to reach new prospects. www.carfolks.com (Social Networking for Autmotive) this is going to be huge! After all Social Networking is about people (folks) and relationships not about the object or vehicle.
Good luck Mark. If i sold cars, i would sign up today, to get my face and name in front of as many people as i could.>>>

http://www.dealerrefresh.com/my_weblog/2007/12/dealers-need-to.html#comments

Curtis DeGroote
Curtis DeGroote

Great Initiative Dubis. This is going to be huge. Sales 101, people buy you (the salesperson) first and to date no one out there gets that as it is difficult even today to find a face and name on the web besides the Internet Sales Manager on 60% or more Dealer sites. The Hard working good guys get the shaft at the dealership because they have no competitve advantage to reach new prospects. www.carfolks.com (Social Networking for Autmotive) this is going to be huge! After all Social Networking is about people (folks) and relationships not about the object or vehicle. Good luck Mark. If i sold cars, i would sign up today, to get my face and name in front of as many people as i could.>>> http://www.dealerrefresh.com/my_weblog/2007/12/dealers-need-to.html#comments

Mark Dubis
Mark Dubis

Great comments and grasp of what it takes to succeed. As the feedback above states mypace and facebook are not designed to brand dealerships or sales people. CarFolks.com is going to do just that. It is an automotive social network designed to build brand recognition for sales people, their dealerships and the manufacturers.

Consumers can come in and search not for a vehicle, but for the best sales people in a given market. Now that's building the brand. Consumers will also be rating dealerships, sale people and any other point of contact they had in the dealership.

Hard working and customer focused sales people, its now time to rejoice. Fast talking, "what's it gonna take to put you in a car today" sales people. . . your days are numbered.

Sales people who want a jump start on their peers can pre-register now at www.bestcarsalesperson.com

More info at CarFolks.com

Mark Dubis
Mark Dubis

Great comments and grasp of what it takes to succeed. As the feedback above states mypace and facebook are not designed to brand dealerships or sales people. CarFolks.com is going to do just that. It is an automotive social network designed to build brand recognition for sales people, their dealerships and the manufacturers. Consumers can come in and search not for a vehicle, but for the best sales people in a given market. Now that's building the brand. Consumers will also be rating dealerships, sale people and any other point of contact they had in the dealership. Hard working and customer focused sales people, its now time to rejoice. Fast talking, "what's it gonna take to put you in a car today" sales people. . . your days are numbered. Sales people who want a jump start on their peers can pre-register now at www.bestcarsalesperson.com More info at CarFolks.com

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

Sorry I got quiet on this thread. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the security side of the Google/FaceBook stuff, and it ain't working too well. Some days I'm just a simple car dealer - lol.

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

Sorry I got quiet on this thread. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the security side of the Google/FaceBook stuff, and it ain't working too well. Some days I'm just a simple car dealer - lol.

James Nobles
James Nobles

Amen Tim to the point on branding....Now if we could get the garden variety dealer to accept it.

The artice from ABC spells out in better detail what the "programming interfaces" provide you the capabilities to do. Facebook, Google and others provide the technical details of how it could be done for free. This part is for your boss Alex, the cost comes from paying a programmer or company to take that knowledge and turn it into a working application. The costs can vary from minimal to "HOLY COW!". Since you pay to for the development though, you get to brand it as your own.

I've have a Facebook account and the applications developed so far that tie into Facebook are branded by that company. A dealership that developed something that Alex described would be able to maintain and protect their brand while extending their marketing reach into various social networks. Try a Google search for "Facebook applications" to see some applications already developed using the API/ programming interface, most of the ones developed so far are geared toward teens/twenty-somethings. If your boss or co-worder asks what your doing...just tell them its "Marketing Research".

Happy Holidays - James

James Nobles
James Nobles

Amen Tim to the point on branding....Now if we could get the garden variety dealer to accept it. The artice from ABC spells out in better detail what the "programming interfaces" provide you the capabilities to do. Facebook, Google and others provide the technical details of how it could be done for free. This part is for your boss Alex, the cost comes from paying a programmer or company to take that knowledge and turn it into a working application. The costs can vary from minimal to "HOLY COW!". Since you pay to for the development though, you get to brand it as your own. I've have a Facebook account and the applications developed so far that tie into Facebook are branded by that company. A dealership that developed something that Alex described would be able to maintain and protect their brand while extending their marketing reach into various social networks. Try a Google search for "Facebook applications" to see some applications already developed using the API/ programming interface, most of the ones developed so far are geared toward teens/twenty-somethings. If your boss or co-worder asks what your doing...just tell them its "Marketing Research". Happy Holidays - James

Tim Morris
Tim Morris

Alex, I thought you in particular might find this article appealing: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/PCWorld/story?id=3994345

If I understood your goal correctly, maybe this is just the break you have been looking for...now all you need is someone to build your platform and you can run facebook style apps on it.

I also thought I would throw my two cents in on the subject as well. I think that any dealership or dealership employee who uses social networking tools are on the right track. Dealership employees, salespeople especially, seem to rely solely on the dealer's efforts (I know this is a generalization, so I will tread lightly...certainly nobody paying attention to DealerRefresh is guilty!!!) to generate leads and sales. It is the proactive and the progressive ones who can be successful with this type of marketing tool.

There are only two reasons to advertise: to generate leads, and to generate brand awareness. Thats it. The salespeople who understand that building their own "brand: me" is important, will take advantage and be successful with these great new tools.

Tim Morris
Tim Morris

Alex, I thought you in particular might find this article appealing: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/PCWorld/story?id=3994345 If I understood your goal correctly, maybe this is just the break you have been looking for...now all you need is someone to build your platform and you can run facebook style apps on it. I also thought I would throw my two cents in on the subject as well. I think that any dealership or dealership employee who uses social networking tools are on the right track. Dealership employees, salespeople especially, seem to rely solely on the dealer's efforts (I know this is a generalization, so I will tread lightly...certainly nobody paying attention to DealerRefresh is guilty!!!) to generate leads and sales. It is the proactive and the progressive ones who can be successful with this type of marketing tool. There are only two reasons to advertise: to generate leads, and to generate brand awareness. Thats it. The salespeople who understand that building their own "brand: me" is important, will take advantage and be successful with these great new tools.

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

Thanks for the heads up James - I'm looking forward to something like that for my own personal SNing.

Google Apps aren't the most secure things, so I'm hesitant to use something along those lines for our company. I also don't want our well-branded name to be associated with MySpace or FaceBook - I want something we can brand ourselves. I assume this is going to be a free solution? Don't let my boss hear this, but I'd like to pay for something. This way we can hold a company accountable and then management will want to see it succeed. When it is always free, it is too easy to forget about it.

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

Thanks for the heads up James - I'm looking forward to something like that for my own personal SNing. Google Apps aren't the most secure things, so I'm hesitant to use something along those lines for our company. I also don't want our well-branded name to be associated with MySpace or FaceBook - I want something we can brand ourselves. I assume this is going to be a free solution? Don't let my boss hear this, but I'd like to pay for something. This way we can hold a company accountable and then management will want to see it succeed. When it is always free, it is too easy to forget about it.

James Nobles
James Nobles

Alex:
The program you described which linked a company intranet and the various social networks is possible. Facebook has a programming interface for building apps that connect with or run on their social network. The real key though is the new initiative by Google called Opensocial, it provides a programming interface that allows one application to run on different social networks or to connect different social networks. Two of Google's biggest partners in this initiative are MySpace and Linkedin, so the tools exist to build such an application. At least in theory, I'm not a programmer myself but from what I've read it certainly seems possible.

James Nobles
James Nobles

Alex: The program you described which linked a company intranet and the various social networks is possible. Facebook has a programming interface for building apps that connect with or run on their social network. The real key though is the new initiative by Google called Opensocial, it provides a programming interface that allows one application to run on different social networks or to connect different social networks. Two of Google's biggest partners in this initiative are MySpace and Linkedin, so the tools exist to build such an application. At least in theory, I'm not a programmer myself but from what I've read it certainly seems possible.

Ron Northbird
Ron Northbird

Hi Everyone,
Working with these networks on a regular basis on the SEO and SEM side of the automotive industry, its not just about getting the sales staff an immediate sale (maybe in a perfect world) but to achieve improved organic placements and increase avenues for consumers to learn about the dealership, its staff and provide positive internet exposure. The end result leading to more sales and lowering the cost per lead and making your internet advertising dollars go a little further.

Ron Northbird
Dealer Fire

Ron Northbird
Ron Northbird

Hi Everyone, Working with these networks on a regular basis on the SEO and SEM side of the automotive industry, its not just about getting the sales staff an immediate sale (maybe in a perfect world) but to achieve improved organic placements and increase avenues for consumers to learn about the dealership, its staff and provide positive internet exposure. The end result leading to more sales and lowering the cost per lead and making your internet advertising dollars go a little further. Ron Northbird Dealer Fire

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

Audrey,

It feels funny having a conversation with you here - I guess the same goes for Jeff and a few of the others I regularly communicate with. Anyway, we have added a portion to our employee handbook (actually an online policy/sign-off site) on employee web-engagement using the Checkered Flag name.

I think you know what I want to do, but it is currently expensive. For those of you reading this (especially vendors who can do it ;) ), I'd like to build an "Intranet" that combines a FaceBook/MySpace environment with LinkedIn for employees to build their own "professional" space - this page could be public facing, but public facing on a permission basis by the user with an approval check-off by an admin. As for the "Intranet" part, I'd like to see a forum, and an Instant Chat piece that wasn't accessible to people outside of the "Intranet". We use Microsoft Exchange, so I'd like to see it compatible with that system to manage users. I'll try to detail those three initial parts a little more.

Personalized FaceBook/MySpace/LinkedIn page: public facing with a simple url like http://www.checkeredflag.com/alex.snyder. There would be a library of graphics the dealership provides (this could help with compliancy), but users would be able to upload their own pictures too. If a user decides to make his/her space public, then an email is sent to an admin to approve the content before it actually shows outside of the "Intranet".

Instant Chat: I think this is self explanatory. It should be standalone and automatically start when a user logs in. It should link to their profile in the "Intranet" and the name should be derived from their name in the Exchange Server: ex. alexsnyder, alex.snyder, asnyder, johnsmith1, etc.

Forums: these can be whatever the dealership wants to do with them. I'd like to use them as a meeting place. Post an idea on the forum and see what comes out of the postings. Then have a second portion of the forum where people can chat about their favorite places to order lunch from or whatever.

Reporting: usage reports. Yeah....I want to know if John Smith the parts stocker (who is paid hourly) is spending 2 hours a day playing in here while stock orders are piling up. Maybe there is a way to limit time spent in this area?

Hopefully I'm not getting too detailed, but this is something I've thought about for years. We tried doing an internal PHP forum in the past, and it got great traction with a few employees - but I think we were a little ahead of the times for the rest. I think we're at a point where we can give this a go again, but I need more than just a simple forum now. I need something management will pay for to get buy-in.....but not too expensive!.....ha ha.

Please - everyone on Dealer Refresh - criticize, build on, and polish anything I've posted here.

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

Audrey, It feels funny having a conversation with you here - I guess the same goes for Jeff and a few of the others I regularly communicate with. Anyway, we have added a portion to our employee handbook (actually an online policy/sign-off site) on employee web-engagement using the Checkered Flag name. I think you know what I want to do, but it is currently expensive. For those of you reading this (especially vendors who can do it ;) ), I'd like to build an "Intranet" that combines a FaceBook/MySpace environment with LinkedIn for employees to build their own "professional" space - this page could be public facing, but public facing on a permission basis by the user with an approval check-off by an admin. As for the "Intranet" part, I'd like to see a forum, and an Instant Chat piece that wasn't accessible to people outside of the "Intranet". We use Microsoft Exchange, so I'd like to see it compatible with that system to manage users. I'll try to detail those three initial parts a little more. Personalized FaceBook/MySpace/LinkedIn page: public facing with a simple url like http://www.checkeredflag.com/alex.snyder. There would be a library of graphics the dealership provides (this could help with compliancy), but users would be able to upload their own pictures too. If a user decides to make his/her space public, then an email is sent to an admin to approve the content before it actually shows outside of the "Intranet". Instant Chat: I think this is self explanatory. It should be standalone and automatically start when a user logs in. It should link to their profile in the "Intranet" and the name should be derived from their name in the Exchange Server: ex. alexsnyder, alex.snyder, asnyder, johnsmith1, etc. Forums: these can be whatever the dealership wants to do with them. I'd like to use them as a meeting place. Post an idea on the forum and see what comes out of the postings. Then have a second portion of the forum where people can chat about their favorite places to order lunch from or whatever. Reporting: usage reports. Yeah....I want to know if John Smith the parts stocker (who is paid hourly) is spending 2 hours a day playing in here while stock orders are piling up. Maybe there is a way to limit time spent in this area? Hopefully I'm not getting too detailed, but this is something I've thought about for years. We tried doing an internal PHP forum in the past, and it got great traction with a few employees - but I think we were a little ahead of the times for the rest. I think we're at a point where we can give this a go again, but I need more than just a simple forum now. I need something management will pay for to get buy-in.....but not too expensive!.....ha ha. Please - everyone on Dealer Refresh - criticize, build on, and polish anything I've posted here.

Audrey Knoth
Audrey Knoth

"In my opinion if it's not leading to car sales it is a complete waste of time.."

If I were a salesperson, who's paid on producing today and thus has no incentive to think longer-term, I would agree. However, for dealership executives who are supposed to be thinking about their company's future, this is a dangerously short-term way to look at things. The car purchase is inexorably moving onto the web ... for example, AutoNation is testing its start-to-finish AutoNation Direct transaction process. There will be kinks to work out with this practice, but it will become an accepted standard sooner or later, so along the lines of what Jamie points out, the question is going to be how do you differentiate your dealership on the web so that you're not just duking it out on price?

In response to Alex Snyder's question about what to do about dealership employees setting up their own social networking sites, in an ideal world, when new employees join the dealership, they'd be asked if they'd like to set up a social networking site and if so, the dealership would work with them to set it up ... or at the very least, provide guidelines and how-tos. Yes, this would be an ideal world, because, of course, a huge cultural change will need to happen within dealerships for this to come about. But we all know that change is not only coming ... it's here now ...

Audrey Knoth
Goldman & Associates Public Relations

Audrey Knoth
Audrey Knoth

"In my opinion if it's not leading to car sales it is a complete waste of time.." If I were a salesperson, who's paid on producing today and thus has no incentive to think longer-term, I would agree. However, for dealership executives who are supposed to be thinking about their company's future, this is a dangerously short-term way to look at things. The car purchase is inexorably moving onto the web ... for example, AutoNation is testing its start-to-finish AutoNation Direct transaction process. There will be kinks to work out with this practice, but it will become an accepted standard sooner or later, so along the lines of what Jamie points out, the question is going to be how do you differentiate your dealership on the web so that you're not just duking it out on price? In response to Alex Snyder's question about what to do about dealership employees setting up their own social networking sites, in an ideal world, when new employees join the dealership, they'd be asked if they'd like to set up a social networking site and if so, the dealership would work with them to set it up ... or at the very least, provide guidelines and how-tos. Yes, this would be an ideal world, because, of course, a huge cultural change will need to happen within dealerships for this to come about. But we all know that change is not only coming ... it's here now ... Audrey Knoth Goldman & Associates Public Relations

Jamie
Jamie

"In my opinion if it's not leading to car sales it is a complete waste of time.."

Interesting - and unfortunately it is how quite a few people think about doing business - unfortunately, not just the car business. However, because DealerRefresh is about the car business I suppose I should stay consistent in my comments. It seems like the decision not to create a brand experience at the dealership level is a risky one. By not separating your dealership experience from the competition, you are simply going to compete in the red ocean of price and shrinking margins. Obviously this is not very conducive for running a successful business focused on longterm stability and growth.

The brand experience should start at the dealership website - or at least be echoed there from the brand you have built via traditional channels. From that point, with the appropriate strategy and guidance, blog marketing & social networking can not only personalize and reinforce that brand - but I believe it absolutely will result in "setting appointments & moving metal".

I'll conclude my rant by offering the following example. I read this blog daily and have linked to all of your sites from here at one point or another. I live in Louisiana and have never met, nor spoken to Alex Snyder from Checkered Flag. But if that guy had Brian Hoecht's shopping cart on their website, I would feel comfortable buying a car from him tonight. And that's 100% due to the "virtual experience" I have had with the Checkered Flag website & blog. That seems like a pretty positive brand experience.

Jamie
Jamie

"In my opinion if it's not leading to car sales it is a complete waste of time.." Interesting - and unfortunately it is how quite a few people think about doing business - unfortunately, not just the car business. However, because DealerRefresh is about the car business I suppose I should stay consistent in my comments. It seems like the decision not to create a brand experience at the dealership level is a risky one. By not separating your dealership experience from the competition, you are simply going to compete in the red ocean of price and shrinking margins. Obviously this is not very conducive for running a successful business focused on longterm stability and growth. The brand experience should start at the dealership website - or at least be echoed there from the brand you have built via traditional channels. From that point, with the appropriate strategy and guidance, blog marketing & social networking can not only personalize and reinforce that brand - but I believe it absolutely will result in "setting appointments & moving metal". I'll conclude my rant by offering the following example. I read this blog daily and have linked to all of your sites from here at one point or another. I live in Louisiana and have never met, nor spoken to Alex Snyder from Checkered Flag. But if that guy had Brian Hoecht's shopping cart on their website, I would feel comfortable buying a car from him tonight. And that's 100% due to the "virtual experience" I have had with the Checkered Flag website & blog. That seems like a pretty positive brand experience.

Shaun
Shaun

First... Good stuff Jeff!

Second... Thanks Mr. Shopping Cart (Brian) and you know I love your shopping cart!

I have found my blog and even my YouTube channel are excellent ways to improve my search engine rankings. From the SEO side of things I've had great success.

I'm a big fan of blogging, YouTube/video usage, social networking, etc... but for many dealers it scares me to think of them writing blog entries and trying to use MySpace, YouTube, Friendster and others in a way that is relevant to consumers.

I do think dealers should be jumping into these waters, I just caution the ones that keep selling cars in such a way that leave their customers bleeding and possibly sore. Starting a blog on your website, throwing up a MySpace page, setting up a YouTube channel, etc... opens you up to public scrutiny. Are you ready for that? People these days are not at all ashamed to be brutally honest. I was doing a little research lately regarding the Badger videos and I found some interesting "social networking" handy work. Check out this link and read some of the entries. You'll read some very honest opinions.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/raleigh-durham-chapel-hill-cary/173091-johnson-auto-badger-ads-3.html

Don't ban me for this Jeff :) but I need to make a correction. Brian gave my old blog a shout out. The new one which can read or commented on can be found at: www.dealeradvisor.com or you can go straight to it blog.dealer-advisor.com.

Great post and comments from all.

With encouragement and hope,

Shaun
Shaun

First... Good stuff Jeff! Second... Thanks Mr. Shopping Cart (Brian) and you know I love your shopping cart! I have found my blog and even my YouTube channel are excellent ways to improve my search engine rankings. From the SEO side of things I've had great success. I'm a big fan of blogging, YouTube/video usage, social networking, etc... but for many dealers it scares me to think of them writing blog entries and trying to use MySpace, YouTube, Friendster and others in a way that is relevant to consumers. I do think dealers should be jumping into these waters, I just caution the ones that keep selling cars in such a way that leave their customers bleeding and possibly sore. Starting a blog on your website, throwing up a MySpace page, setting up a YouTube channel, etc... opens you up to public scrutiny. Are you ready for that? People these days are not at all ashamed to be brutally honest. I was doing a little research lately regarding the Badger videos and I found some interesting "social networking" handy work. Check out this link and read some of the entries. You'll read some very honest opinions. http://www.city-data.com/forum/raleigh-durham-chapel-hill-cary/173091-johnson-auto-badger-ads-3.html Don't ban me for this Jeff :) but I need to make a correction. Brian gave my old blog a shout out. The new one which can read or commented on can be found at: www.dealeradvisor.com or you can go straight to it blog.dealer-advisor.com. Great post and comments from all. With encouragement and hope,

Jeff Kershner
Jeff Kershner

Thanks for everyones feedback! Thanks for the compliments to everyone as well; Chad, Audrey, Ron, Mitch, everyone.

Lao, great input and thanks for the link.

Alex, you're so right. What is a dealer supposed to do when they have employees on these social network sites representing your dealer in some form or another? What action can or should the dealer take? Should the rules of social networking outside of work be included in the dealers employees handbook?

nonprofitspace.com - what the He!!?

Corey - Thanks for the heads on naymz.com. Very interesting! I've been playing around with it. I'll wait a few days and see if it indexes.

Joe, WTF? Give me some of that stuff!!

Jeff Kershner
Jeff Kershner

Thanks for everyones feedback! Thanks for the compliments to everyone as well; Chad, Audrey, Ron, Mitch, everyone. Lao, great input and thanks for the link. Alex, you're so right. What is a dealer supposed to do when they have employees on these social network sites representing your dealer in some form or another? What action can or should the dealer take? Should the rules of social networking outside of work be included in the dealers employees handbook? nonprofitspace.com - what the He!!? Corey - Thanks for the heads on naymz.com. Very interesting! I've been playing around with it. I'll wait a few days and see if it indexes. Joe, WTF? Give me some of that stuff!!

Joe Pistell
Joe Pistell

Sorry for the thread jack, but.. Another one bites the dust~!

You all knew me as the Pres. of a tiny SEO boutique called New-Traffic.com here in upstate NY. I am very proud to announce that I am the new Marketing Director for usedcarking.com.

Used Car King has over 1,500 used units in 2 locations & is growing at a tad over 20% annually. It's day 10 in my new gig, We're negotiating a 7 figure media buy! The CEO is sharp as H*ll and I am having a ball!

Joe Pistell
Joe Pistell

Sorry for the thread jack, but.. Another one bites the dust~! You all knew me as the Pres. of a tiny SEO boutique called New-Traffic.com here in upstate NY. I am very proud to announce that I am the new Marketing Director for usedcarking.com. Used Car King has over 1,500 used units in 2 locations & is growing at a tad over 20% annually. It's day 10 in my new gig, We're negotiating a 7 figure media buy! The CEO is sharp as H*ll and I am having a ball!

Corey Salzano
Corey Salzano

Sorry for the double post, but if you want to check out how naymz can rank just search for my name I think it's number 3 on google.

Corey Salzano
Corey Salzano

Sorry for the double post, but if you want to check out how naymz can rank just search for my name I think it's number 3 on google.

Corey Salzano
Corey Salzano

Just writing to disagree with nonprofitspace.com...

"if it's not leading to car sales..."

What if a search for a dealership brings up negative reviews on the first page? That could contribute to a decline in sales, and developing profiles on these sites could benefit by pushing down the negative reviews.

Here's a great example. Search "jina auto sales" on google. Click the 2nd result @ dealerrater.com. You'll find only 1 review that starts with "The worst used car dealership ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

If you were Jina Auto Sales, would spreading your name all over the web be a "waste of time" if it could push down that review?

Also, Jeff, I want to add one more to the list. Naymz.com will rank for people's names in less than 48 hours. This might only work well for dealers that have a name in the name, but it's a great service regardless.

Corey Salzano
Corey Salzano

Just writing to disagree with nonprofitspace.com... "if it's not leading to car sales..." What if a search for a dealership brings up negative reviews on the first page? That could contribute to a decline in sales, and developing profiles on these sites could benefit by pushing down the negative reviews. Here's a great example. Search "jina auto sales" on google. Click the 2nd result @ dealerrater.com. You'll find only 1 review that starts with "The worst used car dealership ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" If you were Jina Auto Sales, would spreading your name all over the web be a "waste of time" if it could push down that review? Also, Jeff, I want to add one more to the list. Naymz.com will rank for people's names in less than 48 hours. This might only work well for dealers that have a name in the name, but it's a great service regardless.

Audrey Knoth
Audrey Knoth

What dealers should really be asking themselves is not whether they should set up pages on MySpace, Facebook, etc., but rather: "What can I learn from the fact that social networking is so popular?" One lesson is that even in an age when many people would rather be at home entertaining themselves via various forms of technology than out meeting others in person, basic human interest in other people remains undimmed. After all, man (and woman, of course) is a social animal, regardless of the technology sprouting up on a daily basis.

So, dealers should be looking at how they can use their web presence to bring their people (their staff and customers) alive ... whether it's through adding a blog component to their existing site, putting up a Facebook page, or some other tactic. Because when you cut through all the buzzwords, this is really the direction that people are pushing the web. It is absolutely inevitable, so why not lead, rather than follow?

Jeff, I've told you this on the phone, but here it is in this comment ... DealerRefresh rocks!

Audrey Knoth
Goldman & Associates Public Relations (we help Alex Snyder with the Checkered Blog)

Audrey Knoth
Audrey Knoth

What dealers should really be asking themselves is not whether they should set up pages on MySpace, Facebook, etc., but rather: "What can I learn from the fact that social networking is so popular?" One lesson is that even in an age when many people would rather be at home entertaining themselves via various forms of technology than out meeting others in person, basic human interest in other people remains undimmed. After all, man (and woman, of course) is a social animal, regardless of the technology sprouting up on a daily basis. So, dealers should be looking at how they can use their web presence to bring their people (their staff and customers) alive ... whether it's through adding a blog component to their existing site, putting up a Facebook page, or some other tactic. Because when you cut through all the buzzwords, this is really the direction that people are pushing the web. It is absolutely inevitable, so why not lead, rather than follow? Jeff, I've told you this on the phone, but here it is in this comment ... DealerRefresh rocks! Audrey Knoth Goldman & Associates Public Relations (we help Alex Snyder with the Checkered Blog)

Ron
Ron

Great Article Jeff!
Working in the optimization and Marketing side of the industry, these types of networks are a definite asset in generating more first page rankings with links that will drive more traffic to the dealer website as well as maximize internet exposure.

Ron

Ron
Ron

Great Article Jeff! Working in the optimization and Marketing side of the industry, these types of networks are a definite asset in generating more first page rankings with links that will drive more traffic to the dealer website as well as maximize internet exposure. Ron

Lao Shi
Lao Shi

This is a great example of one way to see the use of the Social Networking solution; http://www.thisisplanb.com/. Check out the management tab and click on the bio of the three listed. This is the type of advertising company the industry needs to move out of the old world and into the new. I have a feeling we will be seeing more of this worldwide as the "OEM's" search for company’s like this for marketing solutions to reach the new generation of consumers.

Any dealer can use this Social network solution with very little effort. The reason given for the excuse many dealers have: "Plain and simple, the reason dealers don't take advantage of social networking/marketing is because they don't have someone like Jeff (or the rest of us reading here) on-staff."

The tools that some of these sites offer and there are a number of them is a resource that is inexpensive and easy to use. Where else can you feature videos and information content that costs you less the more it is used? Feature your dealership, service, product, message, and staff?

Where the secret lies is hiring people like Jeff and others who are leading the way to develop the scripts and programs. Many dealers just fill job openings. A skills profile is developed, usually reflecting past needs and a person is hired to fill the slot.

Dealers must hire the "best of breed" in whatever field of IT you can find them. Professional teams go for the best athlete and build a team around them. You must bet on the universal skills of very bright people. If you look too narrowly to fill an immediate job need, you will likely get a person who has limited future value and can only be deployed on narrow assignments.

Hiring the "best of breed" is a difficult transition for a company that just fills job slots and accepts mediocrity. But once you have a good, bright person and build around them, you will see how the successful team develops.

This is the strength of the "New Breed" of dealer management and where we will be able to lead the industry. Rather than waste time dragging the old into today’s market we need to focus on the tools that are becoming available and lead the way.

Maybe the first thing many of the "new breed" need to learn is their value in the market place and to assume a more direct leadership roles in the ecommerce segment of the industry. The future of the industry will lie in the development of e-dealerships, this will develop very soon, alas it is happening now and the “New Breed” will be the industry leaders.

Lao Shi
Lao Shi

This is a great example of one way to see the use of the Social Networking solution; http://www.thisisplanb.com/. Check out the management tab and click on the bio of the three listed. This is the type of advertising company the industry needs to move out of the old world and into the new. I have a feeling we will be seeing more of this worldwide as the "OEM's" search for company’s like this for marketing solutions to reach the new generation of consumers. Any dealer can use this Social network solution with very little effort. The reason given for the excuse many dealers have: "Plain and simple, the reason dealers don't take advantage of social networking/marketing is because they don't have someone like Jeff (or the rest of us reading here) on-staff." The tools that some of these sites offer and there are a number of them is a resource that is inexpensive and easy to use. Where else can you feature videos and information content that costs you less the more it is used? Feature your dealership, service, product, message, and staff? Where the secret lies is hiring people like Jeff and others who are leading the way to develop the scripts and programs. Many dealers just fill job openings. A skills profile is developed, usually reflecting past needs and a person is hired to fill the slot. Dealers must hire the "best of breed" in whatever field of IT you can find them. Professional teams go for the best athlete and build a team around them. You must bet on the universal skills of very bright people. If you look too narrowly to fill an immediate job need, you will likely get a person who has limited future value and can only be deployed on narrow assignments. Hiring the "best of breed" is a difficult transition for a company that just fills job slots and accepts mediocrity. But once you have a good, bright person and build around them, you will see how the successful team develops. This is the strength of the "New Breed" of dealer management and where we will be able to lead the industry. Rather than waste time dragging the old into today’s market we need to focus on the tools that are becoming available and lead the way. Maybe the first thing many of the "new breed" need to learn is their value in the market place and to assume a more direct leadership roles in the ecommerce segment of the industry. The future of the industry will lie in the development of e-dealerships, this will develop very soon, alas it is happening now and the “New Breed” will be the industry leaders.

Ryan Gerardi
Ryan Gerardi

Well, right now these questions can only be answered theoretically. There isn't any data to show where and how online branding social networking impact your bottom line because it really is only just now starting to occur.

We could get in to a whole theoretical discussion about these things, but one area where blogging and social networking can impact dealerships in a tangible and measurable way is through SEO.

And thank you Brian for the kudos. Enjoy your weekends fellas.

Ryan Gerardi
Ryan Gerardi

Well, right now these questions can only be answered theoretically. There isn't any data to show where and how online branding social networking impact your bottom line because it really is only just now starting to occur. We could get in to a whole theoretical discussion about these things, but one area where blogging and social networking can impact dealerships in a tangible and measurable way is through SEO. And thank you Brian for the kudos. Enjoy your weekends fellas.

Mitch
Mitch

No Alex, you're right on point with that issue. I just received an Internet lead via our dealer website a few months ago that stated in the comments:

"Someone at this dealership keeps spamming our forum. Stop trying to sell us your s**t!"

Of course, no name, no phone number, not even a reference to which forum was being affected. So that helped a lot.

Alex's point of contention is quite valid... though to be fair, it's no different than your salespeople putting their business cards at the local bagel shop, or putting a sticker on their personal vehicle promoting your store... but the element of anonymity through the Internet makes things a bit less clear about who precisely is behind the marketing.

Don't get me wrong, I'd just as soon tell a salesmen that his thank you card is a horrid representation of our store, and work with him to make it more professional... you want a little bit of that "street team" attitude in your staff, but you still have to manage the content that's being put out there.

Of course, that's the big x-factor in social marketing anyway, right? Even if you have full authority to represent your company, you still could end up putting your foot in your mouth and seriously damaging the company's reputation (see: WholeFoods Inc. CEO blog).

Mitch
Mitch

No Alex, you're right on point with that issue. I just received an Internet lead via our dealer website a few months ago that stated in the comments: "Someone at this dealership keeps spamming our forum. Stop trying to sell us your s**t!" Of course, no name, no phone number, not even a reference to which forum was being affected. So that helped a lot. Alex's point of contention is quite valid... though to be fair, it's no different than your salespeople putting their business cards at the local bagel shop, or putting a sticker on their personal vehicle promoting your store... but the element of anonymity through the Internet makes things a bit less clear about who precisely is behind the marketing. Don't get me wrong, I'd just as soon tell a salesmen that his thank you card is a horrid representation of our store, and work with him to make it more professional... you want a little bit of that "street team" attitude in your staff, but you still have to manage the content that's being put out there. Of course, that's the big x-factor in social marketing anyway, right? Even if you have full authority to represent your company, you still could end up putting your foot in your mouth and seriously damaging the company's reputation (see: WholeFoods Inc. CEO blog).

Alex Snyder
Alex Snyder

I'm a huge fan of social networking! I think I'm LinkedIn with quite a few of the regulars on Dealer Refresh and have been an avid forum participant since I bought my first S2000 (S2Ki.com is one of my favorite net-hang outs). I love the new communication areas the net has given us!

Maybe I can play a little devil's advocate here.....not because I want to, but because I've had to deal with this.

Branding, SEO, and transparency are all great reasons to engage in the latest social networking programs, but how do you filter out the bad? I caught one of our salespeople on MySpace "representin' da Flag" (our dealership's name is Checkered Flag) with all kinds of photographic paraphernalia; which certainly did not reflect the Checkered Flag image nor any other franchised dealer for that matter. He worked at our BMW store and had non-compliant BMW logos all over the place. If you knew this person, you'd never expect the MySpace page this guy had up. Of course, any sensible human being would look the other way on associating that MySpace page with Checkered Flag.....or would they?

Does MySpace become a work-related site now? Should we allow all of our employees to spend hours on the clock, playing on MySpace? I know MySpace is one extreme, but it does fall into the social networking cloud/category.

This question carries into other areas: employees making their own websites, putting the dealership name in their personal email signatures, etc. The Internet is either viewed loosely or strictly depending on who is viewing it. Government regulation is still years away. Is the answer education? Do you have time to educate your staff?

I'm rambling now. I'll end this post by stating, this is just a thought.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] the 2007 Roundtable event, lots of folks were asking why aren’t dealers social networking. Two years later, there are now thousands of dealers participating in some type of social network. [...]

  2. [...] I wrote about 5 advantages to dealers for leveraging social media. Interesting enough, these same 5 advantages still hold true [...]