Best Practices

CarMax Rockin’ Their Twitter Brand

carmax twitter screenshot

CarMax on Twitter

I have a confession, when I first jumped on Twitter I had no clue what I was doing. I would log-in from time to time and retweet an interesting article or add what I thought was a nugget of wisdom, but overall I had no clue what a hash tag was, much less a retweet.

After I had a bit more experience and actually threw myself into using it, I realized the golden rule of Twitter – the entire system is built on relationships. You can’t jump on and off, posting vehicle inventory or your newest YouTube ad and expect to build a following. You have to invest the time and energy to actually engage with people in your network.

Twitter has a language all its own and the more you tap into the power of receiving and sharing relevant news, the wider your network will grow. Below I want to share best practices from a dealership I’ve seen rocking their Twitter brand on a daily basis.

The dealer brand is @CarMax. If you don’t follow these guys, stop reading and follow them this instant. You will see on a first hand basis why Twitter can be such a powerful PR tool for a dealership when used correctly. Here are just a few real Twitter postings from @CarMax from the last few weeks:

  1. In response to a person who tweeted she was not happy with an aspect of her CarMax experience. (Keep in mind, she tweeted this to her list of followers, not directly to CarMax.) @CarMax
    Response: Hi, we saw your tweets. Pls give us a call. (phone #) We would like to look into this.
  2. In response to a post from a woman who tweeted: found a great car @CarMax, but I think the dealership sold it. @CarMax
    Response: We have other great cars too!
  3. In response to a Tweeter who said she had to go to @CarMax to get a new car after an accident. @CarMax
    Response: We’re so sorry to hear that! Here’s a ten percent off service coupon for you.

A couple of things strike me about these responses.

1) @CarMax Needs a Raise

First and foremost, whoever is handling their Twitter handle should be getting either a fat bonus or a raise. The online presence created for CarMax from this Twitter account alone is a huge public relations success. CarMax customers no longer feel like they’re being handled by a faceless dealer group, there’s a person behind the twitter handle and what’s more, the person cares enough to reach out to them.

2) @CarMax is Creating Active Discussions
Secondly, notice how @CarMax is creating discussions with these users? They’re reaching out directly to individuals – that’s powerful stuff! Imagine what all of these twitter user’s followers see from @CarMax. They see a dealership that cares more about the people in their store than the inventory on their lot. They see a company reaching out to instantly right wrongs and to truly engage them in a discussion. And speaking of righting wrongs…

3) @CarMax Is not Shying Away from Negative Tweets, But Actively Embracing Them.
So often in public relations we hear that clients don’t want to open themselves up to negative comments and perceptions when dealing with social media. But here’s a player that’s using negative tweets to change the game. By reaching out quickly to those Twitter users who have had a less than ideal experience, CarMax is showing they care about customers and want to turn their experience around. Just think of the good juju that comes from righting a wrong in front of the user’s entire network. Makes me want to buy my next car from CarMax, don’t you?

I’m still a long way from knowing the secrets to Twitter success (how in the world are people getting 15,000 followers?), but by following dealerships like @CarMax, I’m closer to understanding the power of this channel.

Are you creating active discussions and embracing negative tweets for your dealership?

D
You are right in the Stike Zone!

As I shared the value of Socialization in an Information Age with auto industry execs, dealers, media, and a host of others at the events in San Fran it was amazing how 'intriguing' and 'out-of-the-box' they found my comments. Your excellent example here about how CarMax is using Twitter to leverage their brand image is exactly what the future of automotive retail is all about.

Great Job Champion!

Your able professional,

D. Rawls
President
Auto Buyer Consultants, LLC
404.661.7767
J
Laurie,

I totally appreciate monitoring Twitter for use as a Reputation Management tool, but, in Car Dealer World... CarMax is the exception, not the rule. We're all so different. 99% of us have less than 1/100ths of resources or the footprint that CarMax has.

Heres another way to slice it and dice it.

Let's say employing @CarMax costs $50,000 p/yr. CarMax has 103 stores to spread costs across. Each CarMax store pays $485 per year to employ @CarMax. ROI is not out of reach! In my case, we have 3 stores. The math ain't pretty. $50,000 / 3 = $16,666 per location. In my case, there is NO twitter break even scenario.

@CarMax has scale. @CarMax has leverage.

My reality is that the only players I have to "work twitter" are the sales force, and they can't answer the phones correctly!

Lastly, the Twitter audience is small (1-5% depending on whom your reading) . I work a small "lunch-pail" market with an even more tiny twitter demo. I'll Double down my negativity with a very high un-employment rate on the 18-30's of the universe.

OTOH, if I was a young buck out on the lot with a smart phone, I'd be workin' it HARD!
L
Hi Joe!____ I totally understand your comments and agree that many dealerships don't have the revenue or the spread to pay $50k a year for a Twitter marketer. However, I think the points about replying to negativity in a positive way and actively searching for your name and interacting with those tweeting about you can work for any dealership, regardless of size. I own a PR firm that employs only a handful of people, so I get it. As you aptly point out above, it's all about making it work for your audience. The audience for CarMax is not the same audience for every dealership. Thanks so much for the active discussion - love it! ____Laurie Halter
R
  • R
    Roger Gillespie
  • February 10, 2011
Re: CarMax Rockin’ Their Twitter Brand

"Makes me want to buy my next car from CarMax, don’t you?"
"Leverage brand values?"

Have you noticed the Carmax guys twitter name?

Kind regards
Roger Gillespie
@
Thanks so much Laurie! We appreciate your post! from the @CarMax crew.
@
Much of Lauries article touches in the reputation management side, tracking what others are saying about your brand on twitter. Set up a keyword search, several different twitter tools allow this. You don't need a full time twitterer on staff to monitor your brand and engage with your community. When resources are low, it's ok to take a "reactive" approach across this medium.
L
Absolutely - as I state in the title, you guys are "rockin' it"! Great work.
T
  • T
    Tired of the Hype
  • February 14, 2011
Yes, they are soooooo good at Twitter that they've lost 3,000 followers in the last year. Hmm, sounds like I don't want to follow them.
L
I know Twitter and other social media networks are hard to keep on top of with limited resources. I&#039;ve posted a new blog article on <a href="http://www.charismapr.blogspot.com" rel="nofollow">www.charismapr.blogspot.com</a> that talks about ways to track brand rep, through tools vs. people. Hope this helps!

- Laurie Halter
W
Laurie, I especially appreciated your third point:
"@CarMax Is not Shying Away from Negative Tweets, But Actively Embracing Them"
This is especially important in an industry where many business owners or managers are afraid of putting themselves 'out there' (via social media) because of the negative reviews their brand may receive.
But the truth is, there are people talking about their business already, and it is up to them to become a part of the conversation.
No conversation means other people tell them the value of their business; good customer service and reputation management means that others find a place to have their questions answered, disputes settled - and ultimately, a place to post positive feedback in the future.
Great article!
L
Thanks @worlddealer - you are so right. It's all about having control of the way people view your brand - whether it's good or bad - control the conversation!
L