Dealership Marketing

Reputation Management Tools

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If word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising, what has the Internet done to extend its power?  Why is the traditional business approach to fear it?

In 2007 Jeff wrote an article about whether dealers should be using Social Media – you know…those facebook, myspace, and twitter sites.  Here we are 2 years later and I am finding quite a few dealers on all of these mediums!  Forget whether you agree with dealers being there or not, and let’s talk about how you track what is going on around your brand.  I think we can all agree people are using these sites to talk about you.

What are people saying about you on blogs and forums?  What are they tweeting while they’re sitting in your F&I office?  Did you just get flogged on Google?  How do you find out?

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These are just a few tools you can use, for virtually zero cost, to keep score of your reputation online.  They’re valuable in other ways too.  Of course, the methods listed above are not all the ways to do it.  There are thousands more!  And thousands more appear each day.

Got anymore you want to add – drop a comment on this article, or join the conversations in the DealerRefresh forums What Online Reputation Management Tools are you using for your dealer?

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Alex, for most dealers Google Alerts and Google Reader can be a great starting point for IRM. I use Google Alerts for tracking any posts on my company name, personal name, or keywords that define my industry. (Automotive SEO, Car Dealer Websites, etc.)

There are automated "compilers" of online posts with follow-up tools that have nice interfaces and provide a CRM like tool to respond, track or remove negative posts but you'll have to pay for that service.

If dealers are not monitoring their online reputation with any tool today, I would start with these two free tools and then after seeing the "field" and "frequency" of posts about your brand, decide if you need more sophisticated tools.
Brian - excellent suggestion! I can't believe I forgot about Google alerts.
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In terms of our reputation here at Northside Ford (San Antonio, TX) we have recently started trying to improve our reputation online by asking satisfied customers to tell others about there experience at our store online. We have concentrated on Dealer Rater first and now have 59 reviews with 4.8 rating and that's the most out of any Ford store in Texas. I'm now going to be spreading the wealth around to other popular review sites online, especially those that index quickly on Google. Since actively trying to improve our online reputation, we are starting to see some results, more sales from those shopping multiple dealers that care how they are treated (there will always be that price only customer). If you're customers love your store, get them to take 5 minutes and write a review online.
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I just heard about TrackUR, I assume it stands for Track Your Reputation: www.trackur.com

I make no claims about it, just heard from someone highly respected in technology at the PubCon conference that it's all 90% of companies need for keeping tabs on their brand, and safeguarding their good name and reputation.

Hope that helps!
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Great article and replies thus far. Of note, I feel like we are back in 1998 and the internet was just taking a real hold of our lives. Corporate America had decided that they were going to TEACH the American consumer how to shop. There were focus groups and much hand wringing over how that was going to happen. A few years later, Corporate America looked back and realized that the American consumer held all of the cards and told THEM how they were going to shop. How to shop had become User Generated.

We are at that point right now in terms of Social Media. What to we do with it? How can we participate in it in a way that will help us sell more cars? How does it effect our business relationships and sales?

As Vice President of a professional SEM/SEO/SMM/ORM company, I am well versed in the need for ORM and how all of these functions are now very much intertwined.

I've been very involved in ORM for three years now, and have developed and patented an ORM function and algorithm that has proven very effective. The key point to understand now is that, as Google has changed it's search algorithm (personalized SERP's), SEM-SEO-SMM-and ORM are all now VERY much dependent on each other. Further, though we are all familiar with the big three search platforms (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) there are over 200 other search engines out there constantly looking for info about your dealership. And they talk to each other!

So what do I recommend? First, each of you ISM's need to study and understand what a Data Cloud is. Your Data Cloud is so very important now. And when you understand that, the ideology of the interdependence of SEM-SEO-SMM-ORM becomes very apparent. They all work together to form the broad opinion of what your dealership IS to those searching the web.

I'm not here to give a strong pitch for my company, but I think it fair to point a few things out. First, I'm a car guy. You can google "Tiny Malone" and you will figure that out real quick...and that I am a noted photographer. So I've sat where you sit, and dealt with the issues you have and are dealing with. So my point is this: Just as the vast majority of you smartly outsource your SEM and SEO...it might be MUCH more cost effective to outsource your SMM and ORM as well. Why? Do you go to the grocery store to buy roller skates? No! Do people come to you to buy puppies? No! The idea is to stick with your core competencies and sell cars. I have a dedicated staff and a Data Center that handles those functions for dealers nation wide. Cheaper and MUCH more effectively than they can do it themselves.

Repairing and enhancing your online reputation is a bit more involved than going to a few review sites and and putting in a set of reviews. We monitor 314 individual sites and have constant custom keyword searches refreshing every 5 minutes 24 hours a day. I want to commend Matt for making such an earnest effort too!! Just know, this is not going away, it's a new job, and you need to keep your Data Cloud full of good information and happy customers.
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    Layton Judd
  • June 8, 2010
If you wonder why you need to worry about your reputation, look at this slideshare about a bakery in Raleigh, NC. <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/3birdsmarketing/a-social-media-cautionary-tale-crumb-bakery" rel="nofollow">www.slideshare.net/3birdsmarketing/a-social-media...</a>
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    Alex Schoeneberger
  • November 20, 2010
Reputation management is a necessity. Google Alerts is a great starting point. That said, the best way to handle it proactively is to a) adjust your operations so negative posts are less likely to occur and b) to partner with a company that proactively solicits reviews from every customer. Most customers will not fill out a review unless they fall at either the extremely good or extremely bad end of the spectrum of customer experiences. Usually, it&#039;s the bad end that causes them to register on a site and write a review. That&#039;s why companies like Carfolks (not paying me for this plug, I am just in awe of their product) will dominate online reputation management in 2011 - because they facilitate gathering reviews from every customer.
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    LauraKippner
  • December 31, 2012
I think one of the hardest parts about being a business owner is just knowing where the starting point is for different, important aspects of running a successful business! For instance, how important is having a sound video marketing strategy compared to, say, having a strong mobile website? How important is reputation management, and where should I get started with that? I don’t know - to me, that’s the toughest part, is just knowing how important different elements are, and knowing how to get started with each. I ended up using a service in Australia called Local Business Services Australia that was really amazing, as far as helping me navigate these things, but I have no idea how one would go about doing all this on their own!
 
http://localbusinessservices.com.au/
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