Opinions & Advice

Facebook: what has it done for you lately?

And since no one else seems to be saying it I’ll go ahead and break the ice: Facebook isn’t as important as you think. In fact, most social media really doesn’t help drive sales at all.

As the Ecommerce Director for a large, Ohio-based automotive group, I’ve found putting more time, money and effort into the SEO side of things has helped our business expand more rather than spending all day checking and updating our Facebook page. While Facebook can benefit your business’ reputation, traffic comes from SEO.

If you’re trying to increase sales, then tackle the SEO side of things first. Providing useful, meaningful content on your website, strong backlinks and an easy-to-navigate web design can go a long way.

It’s why I can’t for the life of me, figure out why so many of our competitors are paying thousands of dollars to third-party groups to manage their social media, especially since Social Media is free to use.

On a monthly basis, I receive phone calls from Social Media groups giving me the same spiel:

We see you’re on Facebook and we can help send more traffic to your website. All you have to do is purchase [insert shiney doodad here] and give one away each month in a contest. If you do this the traffic will start flowing in!

My rebuttal:

So what happens to our fans once we quit giving away [shiney doodad]?


Rather than try to bribe people to like us on Facebook, I’ve found simply offering worthwhile content can go a long way. After all, we want to build a reputation of delivering great customer service; not prizes.  Create a promotional video that drives the right kind of Facebook traffic.  Don’t forget Facebook is free for everyone to use so have some fun with it.

I’m just curious, but why would you pay someone to run your own personal Facebook page?

  • B
    B Uttich
  • August 5, 2011
Great article. You also end up with followers from all over the country and not locally, and I have seen fights over prize give aways on FB pages. Grow organically!

  • J
  • August 5, 2011
HOO-RAY!  Well done, Darrin.  Did you see the recent POLK/Autotrader buying report?  While nearly everyone reported visiting Facebook, less than 1% said it played any role whatsoever in their purchase decision.  We "bought" our way to 1000 fans, then stopped the "buying" a while ago.  Still at 1000 fans.  I keep asking myself, why would I want to "like" my dealer?  And unfortunately, I keep coming-up with the same answer: I wouldn't.  But it suuuuuuuuuure is a big BUZZ-WORD right now, so gotta play the game...
  • S
    Stan Bradbury
  • August 5, 2011
Outstanding!!  Not only that but people are burning out on facebook as the novelty has worn off.  They spend less time there and post much less frequently.  User growth has leveled off - what little growth there is in in preteens and retirees - and the early adopters are starting to leave the service.
Darrin I dig your style.
Every morning I wake up with a smile on my face and say my little mornin' prayer....

"May the Social Media fairies continue to spew rainbows and unicorns so all my competitors take their eye off the ball."

  • S
  • August 6, 2011
I also feel that paying a 3rd party company to manage your Social media marketing is a waste of money...period. As an Internet director I focus on driving traffic in the same ways you mentioned:

 "If you’re trying to increase sales, then tackle the SEO side of things
first. Providing useful, meaningful content on your website, strong
backlinks and an easy-to-navigate web design can go a long way."

However, as a former SEO consultant who continues to stay in the know, I (half) disagree with your post. Yea facebook is nice to have fans blah blah etc and doesnt really help sales, But FB is about one percent of social media, and the best way to build quality backlinks is via social media (maybe not on fb but other sites). I have studied SEO for a long time and a transition is occuring where SEO and SMM are really going to merge. Everyone knows that google is the search engine to focus on mainly, and with google+ being released (ive tried it and it has VERY serious potential) the search engine is now a social media site. I would never advocate hiring a third party SEO firm for a car dealership, but having a social media strategy that is handled in house I feel is VITAL. Whether its an internet manager, the sales reps, or a social media manager, you should have someone who knows the company well and can speak as the company.

As for Facebook, we have just a few thousand "fans" and we get about 5-10 deals a month via FB (mostly by letting the sales reps use FB during downtime, and training them how to do it correctly!). But more importantly our engagement is pretty good which means that the next time those fans need a new car we are at the top of their mind!

So in short please don't attack social media, Because soon the whole internet will be "social media" :)
  • E
    Eric Karandy
  • August 6, 2011
I agree 100% with this but I still use Facebook every single day to sell more cars.  It's very simple, if they are buying a car from me, they aren't leaving until they have "Shared This Vehicle" as an easy way of telling friends and family what they just bought.  The couple I had this morning did it as we started paperwork and by the time they were done, 5 comments had been made on their status update.
My opinion is that this is the only way to use facebook to sell cars without being intrusive.  The customers love it because it saves them 3 or 4 phone calls while letting their friends know that they are buying from us.
  • K
    Keith Kaiser
  • August 6, 2011
We are seeing similar results from Facebook, and I view it more as a communicative medium to show the personality of your dealership and help with reputation management as well.  However, if SEO is your focus than you would be naive not to pay attention to how social media is being integrated into the SERP.  Getting people to share your content and mention your dealership name (citations) is very important to SEO going forward.  Back links will always be important, but social is a long term play helping towards your relevancy with a search engine.  I agree with SEOGuy that Facebook is just a small portion of social media and that you should be looking into other areas that can provide with with SEO results.

Doing well with social media isn't easy and that's why it's called earned media.  The mediums may be free, but being successful isn't easy and takes a lot work which means resources and buy in from your dealership principals.

Good post - this is a challenging area for all small businesses.  In my opinion, you shouldn't discount social media as part of your SEO strategy just do to you Facebook experience so far.  Good luck!

  • B
  • August 8, 2011
Wrote this for our CEO's the day aftrer Digital Dealer 10

Likes or Links-Which one
Stinks and why Social Media is BS - Kevin Frye DD10
What the closest to a Car Dealer Social Media Expert you will ever meet
is – Working for You.

I’ve got real bad news guys - Nobody wants to be our Friend on facebook or follow us on

Proven Fact +Lived Reality if we didn’t bribe people to Like
us on facebook our only fans would be us.
My goal got us 350 fans on the GB facebook page by emailing our customers a
“like us” contest. We hit that 4 months ago and stopped the emails and contest.
Our fan count now – 359 and we still post and engage regularly.

2011 Polk study “The Role of the Internet in new and used
Vehicle Purchase Process” revealed an interesting finding regarding the
influence of social media sites: 97% of buyers who used the internet to shop
indicated that social media sites (not review sites) did not influence
their vehicle purchase

Our customers are not talking about us on facebook or
Twitter.  If they have a Twitter account
they may complain about us. I have viewed close to a hundred dealer facebook
pages and there is very little interaction with dealer’s posts.   What do they care about?     What’s In It for Me!

So is Social Media important to us?  Yes it is, but it’s going to be Links, Likes and Good Reviews that
will drive traffic to our sites and that will help us sell cars and service
right now.  Social Media Branding may
sell cars and service later.

Simply put, facebook “likes” & good reviews look to be
the new links of the future,  as the
search engines are indexing the social media and review sites heavily as they
look for the personal endorsements  to help them serve up relevant results.  Web 2.0 gave us a voice and Google is paying
attention. We are starting to see star
ratings in PPC ads.

Propoised short term Social Media Plan for 2011:

Our facebook sites need to be an extension of
our websites with inventory links, reviews, coupons, like us contests, events,
etc. Our facebook pages have to have the What’s
in It for Me for our fans.

We build our fan base with” Like us Contest” and
in store contest handouts.

Our wall has to be informative, entertaining,
engaging and sprinkled with reviews and Specials/Coupons.

We monitor SoMe sites for comments on us and
engage with them as necessary. Hootsuite/Google .

Post content daily to our Blog that auto
post that to facebook and Twitter.

We feed
the Google Gods lots of Links, Reviews, and relevant content pages.How do we do all this? More bad news, our Managers see no
value in SoMe and have no time for it and that’s fine. Let them keep selling

We enlist a part time
Content writer (a local college student, family member, employee) who would be
tasked to:

Help write content pages for our sites add them
to high page ranked auto sites, blogs, CarDealer Wiki and back link all pages to
our sites content pages.
Monitor SoMe sites with Hootsuit / Google Alerts
accounts for each rooftop.
Write Blog posts and create YouTube Videos that
link to our sites plus facebook and Twitter.         
Write content Newsletters on PRweb that create
quality back links back to our websites

SoMe Fact:  Online Bad or Good Reviews will always have
the most profound effect on our sales and service business.
  • S
  • December 5, 2011
We believe social media does matter!