I just got back from Digital Dealer 8 and almost every presentation was on Social Media. Many vendors were preaching why dealers should be doing something in Social Media, but there weren’t many telling their clients how to do it right. That’s mostly because many of these vendors don’t understand how Social Media truly works themselves.
Social Media is a platform where many people can communicate equally. It is really that simple of a definition. It is not just facebook, or twitter. Those sites have a lot of eyeballs, but the ones that really last forever and are more relevant are the blogs and forums – especially for our vendors. Blogs and forums index with search engines, and if your company is talked about on one of these blogs or forums (like DealerRefresh) those conversations are going to show up when a potential client searches for your name. I’m not tooting the DealerRefresh horn, or DrivingSales’, or ADM’s, or even David Kain’s platform; I’m just going to stress that these kind of places can make or break you. And this is going to become a bigger factor with time.
Here are some easy rules to live by:
1. Get involved. Not being there is just as bad as not advertising. If you are advertising on one of these sites, simply paying to have an ad on the site isn’t enough. You really need to have a voice with the ad.
2. Once involved, don’t spam. Be a knowledgeable assistance to the conversation. Sure, feel free to start your own conversation asking for input from others, but don’t always talk about your product – it is annoying and doesn’t help with my next lesson point….
3. Think about what is in it for the reader? If your post solely benefits you, have you done enough in the past to really ask that favor of the entire community (asking for input is the same as asking for a favor)? My favorite take away quote from the Digital Dealer 8 conference is from Mike DeCecco whom I’m not quoting word for word:
If you have lived next door to someone for 5 years and never said “hi” or tried to make friends with that person, would you ask them to mow your lawn while you’re on vacation for 2 weeks? When you just use Social Media to advertise you are knocking on your neighbor’s door to tick them off.
4. When someone posts something negative about your company, reply to that person honestly. If you’re not going to fix the problem, say so and why – then I suggestion trying to steer the conversation in a different direction. If you are going to fix the problem, then this is a golden public relations opportunity to come out looking like a superstar! Thank the poster, fix the problem, and thank the poster again by giving him credit for bringing it to your attention (even if you already knew about it) – you’ll gain huge brownie points with him and…..read point 5
5. Only 3% of all readers will publicly post. 10% will send a private message or email related to something they saw online, so you have to assume that you’re not seeing 97% of the people who are following your online Social Media actions. I can assure you that DealerRefresh’s site analytics certainly give credit to this statistic. This is a BIG reason you should take my first point to heart.
6. You love where you work. You’re passionate. You cannot fathom why someone would ever say something bad about you or your company. 25% of people will be a great friend. 50% of people will be acquaintances, and 25% of people don’t like you. That’s just the way it is and you’re going to have to accept it. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but when someone types something negative about you, your product, or your company don’t freak out. Don’t get so offended that you call that person’s boss asking for him to be fired or force him to pull what he said down. We talk, we know who you are and this is the most damaging thing you can possibly do to yourself or your company. In a situation like this, the angry poster might be able to be turned back to your cause, but if you can’t work things out one on one with that person, then you need to publicly respond for your 97% non-posting audience I mentioned in point 5.
I’ve been watching a few vendors do these things wrong for a while. I hope some of you can shed your fears to get involved. And the ones who are involved, I hope this helps you to better approach a situation that pops up.
Some other Social Media articles for further reading: