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TK Carsites: Dealers Guide to Automotive Social Media

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TK Carsites: Dealers Guide to Automotive Social Media

TK Carsites: Dealers Guide to Automotive Social Media

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  • 1. A TK Carsites White Paper 800.899.7791 TKCarsites.com The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 By JD Rucker Director of New Media 1-25-2010
  • 2. Contents Introduction Social media has reached a tipping point inIntroduction 3 2011 that all but requires 80% or more ofThe Social Media Mindset 4 North American car…Facebook Techniques 6Twitter Techniques 8 The Social Media MindsetVideo and Blogging 10 Before learning techniques, you must enterSummary 12 into a social media mindset. Being active and… Facebook Techniques Having the right Facebook strategy requires more than just getting “likes” to your… Twitter Techniques Turning Twitter into a 2-way conversation rather than a megaphone is challenging… • Twitter as a Conversation Finder Twitter is an entry point into conversations. You don’t need to have a ton… • Twitter as a Conversation Starter This part is easy. Take what you learned in the previous Facebook section and… Video and Blogging The biggest challenge that car dealers face when engaging in social… Summary Social media done wrong can be more of a detriment to your business than a benefit. Putting together a basic strategy…TK Carsites: The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 2
  • 3. IntroductionSocial media has reached a tipping point in 2011 that all but requires 80% or more ofNorth American car dealers to take social media seriously and establish or enhance theirplan. With 600 million users on Facebook, 200 million users on Twitter, and…… we’ve all seen the stats and they seem impressive, but they’re just numbers.The stats shouldn’t scare you. They also shouldn’t encourage you. Most “gurus” preachthe sheer bulk of the social networks but few offer any assistance that can produce atangible return on investment, both of money and time.This White Paper is not designed to convince you of the importance of social media. It’snot going to offer “out of the box” advice using flowery terms such as “engagement” or“community.”What you are about to read is geared towards car dealers with the goals of selling morevehicles, improving fixed ops business, and creating a strong online reputation. It ispractical advice that will not preach the benefits of social media. Instead, it will seed theapplication of proven practices, techniques, and tips that are relevant in automotive socialmedia for 2011.Many of these practices will be obsolete by 2012. Some will change earlier than that. It’sthe innovative nature of social media that makes it a constantly moving target.If you’re using 2010 strategies, you’re probably not doing it right.You will be, soon. JD Rucker Director of New Media TK CarsitesTK Carsites: The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 3
  • 4. The Social Media MindsetBefore learning techniques, you must enter into a social media mindset. Being active andinvolved in social networks currently is not necessarily the only thing that you’ll need toenter into the right mindset. You’ll have to step away from the selling part of business tounderstand the best way to sell on social media.We’ll go into more details shortly about the specific differences between a ConvertingMessage and a Conversational Message, but for now understand that convertingmessages lead social media contacts (Twitter followers, Facebook likes, Blog readers,etc.) to a page or location where they are intended to become a conversion. Everythingelse is a conversational message. • The data for this graph came from 5 different dealership case studies. • The size of the ball represents the number of conversions that the dealership received. • The vertical axis is the percentage of converting messages – the higher the ball, the more often they asked their social media contacts to visit a lead form, landing page, or other locations for conversion. • The horizontal axis is the number of social media updates the dealership posted in a month.The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 4
  • 5. One thing should be very clear: the less they try to sell, the more effective they are atdoing it. The dealership with the most leads had just under 300 updates, but less than20% of those updates were converting messages.The dealership furthest to the right had the most updates, but nearly 60% of their updateswere converting messages. As a result, they were barely ahead of the dealershiprepresented on the far left who had the leastnumber of updates (less than 1/4th of thenumber for the dealership on the far right) but Posting "convertingalso had the second lowest percentage of messages" non-stopconverting messages. will hurt you algorithmically and inThe two dealers closest to the top were using general.the standard approach: “Sell, sell, sell, sell,converse, sell, sell, sell, sell, sell, converse,etc.”They might as well have been saying “Me, When people likeme, me, me, and more about me. Oh, and did I what you are postingmention me?” normally, you "earn" the right to postUnfortunately, their style is the most common converting messages.by far amongst dealers currently attempting toutilize social media in their marketing efforts.There are distinct algorithmic reasons that youwant to converse much more and attempt to Remember where youconvert less, but let’s look at it from the are... social media is avisitor’s perspective. Remember, they aren’t place to converse.going to Facebook to buy a car. They’re going Remember theto Facebook to share, relax, enjoy. They want "cocktail party"to see interesting posts, follow entertaining mindset.links, and generally get away from business(for now).Through participation and by engaging in conversations, you can affect the placement ofyour converting messages. Again, more detail on that shortly, but the valid businessreason for engaging in conversation rather than selling, selling, and more selling is thatyour converting messages will be much more visible both algorithmically and throughthe appreciation of your audience if people enjoy what you post.It’s been said before and will be said again: the “social media mindset” is similar to the“cocktail party mindset.” If you walk in and join the conversation, share some laughs,discuss some interesting topics, and generally participate in the party, people will likeThe Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 5
  • 6. you more. If the conversation comes up about cars, you talk about it. If it never comes up,as long as you have been likable throughout you will be able to bring up the topic of carsand people won’t mind. They will be much more likely to discuss the topic with you indialogue.If you walk into the cocktail party and start telling everyone about your cars, you will notbe liked. Most people will avoid you. Some may even make rude comments to your face.Most will only be thinking rude comments about you. You will be a monologue withoutan audience. Nobody wants to be “that person.”Facebook TechniquesHaving the right Facebook strategy requires more than just getting “likes” to your page.You have to set clear goals and use techniques specifically designed to elicit conversions.We want more leads. We want more sales. There are right ways and wrong ways to goabout getting both. Remember the 4 “I”s. • Ask questions that • Offer facts and people would news that will be enjoy answering. It interesting to the doesnt have to be users who like auto-related. your page. Interesting Informed In Business Involved • Post links or • Express your instructions with opinion on converting important local, messages. Be regional, or frugal with this. national news.The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 6
  • 7. Your goal is to sell more vehicles, but meeting your smaller goals will help you achievethat ultimate goal. Facebook is not all about branding. How you put out your messageand the personality that you create are the keys to truly doing business on Facebook.The simplified glimpse of a proper Facebook posting cycle will help, but it’s important tounderstand why you should be using Facebook like this. Your goal with 3 out of the 4components of the cycle is to get comments and likes on your status updates. The morethat people like and comment on what you post, the higher your posts will appear on theirNews Feed.If you take nothing else away from this White Interesting: "Who takes thePaper, you must understand this: what toll road? Is it really worth $1.25 to you?"happens on your Facebook page isinfinitesimal compared to what happens onthe News Feeds of the people who like yourpage (and the friends of those same people). Informed: "Tolls are goingThis is the most overlooked aspect of Facebook up next week to $1.50. Bemarketing – most in the industry from OEMs to sure to bring an extradealers to vendors to customers are not even quarter! [LINK]"aware of this very definite fact.Your first mini-goal on the road to the sale isgetting impressions for your messages. People Involved: "We support thewill rarely visit your Facebook page directly. If March of Dimes and will bethey like the page, your updates have a chance walking next week. Willof appearing on their news feed. The more that you join us? [LINK]"they and their friends like or comment on yourupdates, the higher on the News Feed yourupdates will appear. In Business: "Stans Burgers will be feeding our hungryA Facebook page with a strong percentage of customers at thispeople liking and commenting on their updates weekends Toyotathonwill dramatically affect where your converting [LINK]"messages appear. If you post a high percentageof unlikable converting messages, nobody will comment or like them and none of yourposts will appear high on anyone’s News Feed (if they appear at all).By using and playing with the 4 “I”s, you’ll be able to demonstrate more interest in yourmessages to the Facebook algorithm and expose your converting messages more oftenand more prominently.In other words, the less you try to convert, the more you’ll be able to convert. Yourconverting messages will only be seen if they are part of a proper mix.The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 7
  • 8. Twitter TechniquesTurning Twitter into a 2-way conversation rather than a megaphone is challengingsometimes. Despite the fact that Twitter requires the least amount of time to post anupdate (it’s just 140 characters or less) it is often overlooked as a nuisance.When we polled several dealers who had abandoned or turned their Twitter account intoan RSS feed, most said they simply didn’t see the value.Here’s the value in 2 parts:Part I: Twitter as a Conversation FinderTwitter is an entry point into conversations. You don’t need to have a ton of followers(though they do help for part II) to engage in active conversation finding. Use thesearch. Look for conversations based upon keywords. Reply and expect to get a replyback.I did a local Twitter search for “Jeep” and didn’t have to go to page 2 to find aconversation that allowed entry into a conversation.The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 8
  • 9. Don’t sell. Now is not the time. In a situation like that, being sensitive is of the utmostimportance.Notice casual speak: “sucks.” The guy just got in a wreck. It does suck. Represent yourdealership professionally but don’t act like you’re writing a formal letter. I wouldn’tcurse, but mild colloquialisms are fine.Also, notice I said “I”. It’s a business, but there is a human behind the business. You areTweeting because you ran across his Tweet and you wanted to express your empathytowards his situation.The goal here is to spark a conversation. This is not the easiest example, but it’s realistic.There will be times when you’ll find people Tweeting “Looks like my Jeep’s on it’s lastleg. In the shop again.” In a case like that, the path is more clear.You aren’t going to simply search for your brand. Be creative. Do some test searches(don’t forget to push “Tweets near you”) and see what other searches make sense. Itcould be competitor brands, direct competitor names, or even something direct like “needto buy a new car.”Imagine seeing a Tweet that says, “I’m having a really bad experience at [competitor’sname] Jeep. These guys are so pushy!”Now you REALLY know what to do.Part II: Twitter as a Conversation StarterThis part is easy. Take what you learned in the previous Facebook section and do it twiceas much. As a general rule, you can Tweet twice as often as you post to Facebook, notincluding conversations. Once you’re in a conversation, you can @reply people more.Avoid posting more than 1 converting message for every 4 or 5 Tweets.When you can spark conversations, now you’re able to get people talking to you andabout you. The more conversations you’re having, the better your chances of a sale.The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 9
  • 10. Video and BloggingThe biggest challenge that car dealers face when engaging in social media is finding thetime and/or hiring the right person/service to handle video creation and blogging. This isbad, as they are integral components for the most successful automotive social mediamarketing campaigns.You can get away without them. You can also get away without power windows, locks,or steering, but it’s a whole lot easier when you’re not fighting the wheel, hand-crankingup the window, or reaching over to unlock the door.Facebook and Twitter are about content sharing. Videos and blog posts are about creatingthe content that your followers and likes want to see.Testimonials are the easiest and most relevant type of content that your prospectivebuyers will want to see. They are the story about you by people your customers can relateto: other customers.Post your customer testimonials as a “light” conversion tool. You may not be directingthem directly to a contact form, but you are giving them entry into your site and offeringthem feedback that can give your dealership more credibility and better branding.The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 10
  • 11. One may wonder why a dealership would want to post recallinformation on their blog. In this case, it’s because it’s a Tips: "How to SYNC your MP3 Player."Nissan dealership.Conquest marketing on social media is growing. A blog is thebest venue for “talking a little trash” on a competitive brand. Opinions: "The newIn blogs, you are allowed to express your opinions, but your city tax is unfair toopinions will always be judged as biased. “Of course you citizens."think the Altima is better than the Accord, Mr. Nissan Dealer.”Facts and news, however, are a way you can express youropinion backed up by other sources. They make for good reads Events: "The Tweet-(and hopefully videos if you’re adventurous). a-Price Sellathon is This Weekend."There are dozens of other ways you can use video andblogging. Some of those ways are listed to the right, but don’trest on those. Be creative. Use your personality. Put out great Offbeat Facts: "Whocontent and you’ll start to find more people talking to you Drives Better, Menthrough social media and in real life. or Women?"The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 11
  • 12. SummarySocial media done wrong can be more of a detriment to your business than a benefit.Putting together a basic strategy does not take much time or even expertise, but it doestake dedication.The most successful dealers in 2011 will be the ones who take advantage of the tools,tips, and techniques that make for a strong social media strategy. If you think from thecustomers’ perspective and understand that social media is a listening tool as much as abroadcasting tool, you will soar ahead of your competition and make real strides in theoverall sales at your dealership.About TK CarsitesFounded in 2002, TK Carsites made a name forourselves through lead generating tools. TheInternet was relatively new as a marketingplatform and the innovative tools that TK offeredhelped dealers to make the most of this “new frontier.”We expanded quickly into the automotive website design field and put the same practicesto work that garnered our initial success. We grew well over the next few years, but itwas in 2004 with the rise of automotive search engine optimization that we truly startedto excel beyond the competition.As an early adopter of SEO, we developed properties and techniques that have stood thetest of time and helped our dealers achieve and remain at the top for the major searches intheir area. Traffic was and is unprecedented. In 2007, our exploration into the best SEOtechniques helped us find our next area of domination: social media.Our first car dealer social media product launched in early 2008, well before mostvendors had dipped their toes into Web 2.0. A new and improved version has emergedevery year, reaching a tipping point in 2010 with our launch of Power Social.2011 has the release of Power Social 2.0 in the near future, an upgrade that allows ourcurrent Power Social customers to seamlessly upgrade at a minimal expense. The outlookfor the year is bright for both TK Carsites and our wonderful family of dealer clients. JD Rucker Director of New Media TK Carsites 800.899.7791The Dealers’ Guide to Automotive Social Media in 2011 Page 12

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