If there’s one thing that I absolutely cannot stand in the automotive digital marketing world, it’s the demand to make everything scalable. One of the biggest reasons I formed my own company was to help put an end to the automation and bulk-mentality that permeates throughout our industry.
Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand the need for companies that want to have a big payday sometime down the line to make their products fit into a scalable process. It makes sense, particularly when considering that there are so many vendors out there vying for a relatively low number of potential clients. They can’t turn away an OEM, tier 2 organization, or large dealer group when they come knocking. However, it’s grotesque to me that scalability has superseded quality and results for so many. It’s the dealers that are hurt the most by this.
Case in point: social media…
It’s a realm in which I spend a good portion of my time. It’s a potentially incredible marketing venue for dealers, yet it has been cheapened by many vendors and even OEMs to the point that it’s now a function of mass distribution rather than personalized communication and experience.
The very nature of social media is geared to allow dealers to express their uniqueness, to talk to current and potential customers in their local area, and to present the dealership in a public light that allows the world to see why they’re special. Too many have turned social media into an act of trying to fit in. The goal is not to fit in. The true goal of social media is to stand out.
When Brian West from FusionZONE showed me the image below, I facepalmed. I literally facepalmed. This is not how social media is supposed to work. It would be different if the content was so amazing that people were interacting with it, but across the majority of the dozens of accounts I checked that had this question asked, there were no responses. No comments. No likes. No shares. Only crickets.
Social media is the most under-utilized marketing and advertising venue in the automotive industry. It’s not that few dealers are trying. From what I’ve seen, most dealers are trying (at least a little). However, social media is not like search marketing, classifieds, or even outreach marketing like email.
The gap between bad and good is actually very slim, while the gap between good and great is tremendous. In other words, doing pretty well at social media does not generate much better results than doing it poorly. On the other hand, doing it the right way and taking it from good to great can mean the difference between selling cars on social media and not.
It comes down to building a process around people rather than software. Social media is about being social. Software is not social. People are.
For a company to effectively handle a dealership’s social media presence, they need to have no more than 12-15 dealers per social media employee. Once you take it any higher, they are unable to deliver the same personalized experience that dealers (and their fans) deserve.
Even at those numbers, every post on every page must be absolutely unique. The posts must fit in with the personality of the dealership and the brand, the customer base in the local area, and the activity level at the store.
- They cannot be automated
- They cannot be reposted dozens of times
- They must be unique.
There are a handful of vendors that get it. More importantly, a dealership can kill it with an employee spending a few hours a week doing it themselves with the right strategy.
Bulk vendors might be fine for websites, PPC, or other software-driven marketing services, but not social. It simply doesn’t work.
Question: Can vendors scale their operations to include unique, personalized content or should dealers revert back to handling their own social media?