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Learn more about Automotive Digital Marketing at the most popular professional network for car dealers and interactive marketers working in the auto industry at http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/
Social Media and Story Telling
Story telling has occurred around the campfire and dinner table for millennia. Now word of
mouth is transformed by Social Media, enabling the human desire to communicate using
technological opportunities, allowing our stories to spread faster than offline word of mouth
was ever capable of. Social media works best when there are good stories to tell, especially
when those stories include video and photography to make them come to life, and are made
easily available for everyone to see. Like all good skills, storytelling takes practice and while
you may be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, if you listen and watch how others do it,
you will learn a lot. Everybody loves a good story that is well told, it is part of human nature.
Your dealership has a wealth of interesting stories and could probably serve as the subject of an
interesting book or motion picture. Most of all, your dealership’s stories are about a lot more
than the cars you sell, and the most interesting stories are about the people you employ and the
many good things that your business and your team does in your local community. The stories
that are traditionally kept within your dealership are likely to be funny, dramatic, fascinating,
compassionate, full of hope, and many of the things that make life interesting. With Social
Media these stories can now be shared with the world in a place where these stories are
welcomed and appreciated. With Social Media you and the people who work on your team are
able to let the world know why your dealership is more than just another business, it is a very
special place for those that work there and the people they serve. For these and many other
reasons, Social Media isn’t for every dealership because it is real work, but it also can be, and
should be both fun and shared by your team with friends, relatives, neighbors and customers.
What is this playbook about
This playbook is designed to help Mazda dealers understand what Social Media is and how to use it.
While there are literally 100’s of Social Media tools, we recommend focusing on the following 4, which
are the most significant social media sites within each of their categories:
The importance of these tools lies beyond the inherent power of Social Media itself; these User Generated
Content (UGC) sites can have a big impact on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) performance
objectives for your dealership’s eCommerce website. With over 80% of automotive consumers utilizing
the internet in their discovery and shopping process, your competitiveness in the market is determined by
your ability to successfully fight for share of voice online. Social Media can help you accomplish this
and many other marketing objectives from both a mindset as well as content creation perspective. Social
Media success is about being fresh and relevant. Successfully embracing Social Media is about building
communities, developing relationships and celebrating communication in the theme of the oldest human
past time, Storytelling. As important as Social Media can be by itself, when the implications of its impact
on a dealership’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are factored in, it becomes even more relevant to
your business success.
During the winter of 2009, Google changed their search engine ranking algorithms to reflect the increased
popularity of social media and better account for both the freshness of content, as well as which content is
being shared or socialized the most. This means that the more relevant your dealership’s presence
becomes in Social Media, the more relevant your dealership becomes on Google search, and the higher
your messages and websites will rank in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) in the future. Why?
Because Google is responding to the overwhelming popularity of Social Media among the people who
use their search engine and their changes are representative of the constantly changing landscape that
occurs in the digital world.
Use Social Media to celebrate and recognize all the human aspects of your dealership. Imagine using
your Facebook page (and your website) to display and share videos (linked to YouTube) of people who
are taking delivery of their new Mazda, seen explaining why they are so happy with the car, your
dealership, and most of all the people who work there. Because Facebook is a social medium designed to
let people share what they find with others, your customers seen in the video go home, get online and see
they have a massage alerting them to a new video clip that was posted by your dealership, that is
“Tagged” as showing them in it. Your newest customer can watch this video by accepting your
dealership’s “Friend” request and becoming a “Fan” on your dealership’s Fan page in Facebook. As
these customers watch their video they smile, laugh and simply cannot resist sharing the clip with all their
friends, family and selected coworkers… They are not only proud of their new Mazda, they are VERY
proud of buying it from a dealership that is far above any other dealership in providing a joyful and
rewarding purchase experience… They now understand the spirit of Zoom Zoom! They cannot resist
sharing their excitement and the image of successfully achieving the American dream shown by this
video of them with their new Mazda, so with the click of a mouse they send it to all their online friends
and family. As they do this, they know they are helping your dealership build recognition and a positive
reputation through this exposure, but they feel good about it because it is a small price to pay for how
great it makes them feel when their Facebook friends post comments congratulating them after watching
This guide will walk you through some of the most essential Social Media basics and as you and your
dealership team members raise the inevitable questions concerning so many of the how’s, why’s, when’s
and who’s of Social Media Marketing , I encourage you to explore several easy to use and valuable
resources such as:
1. Book; “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko and David K. Brake
2. Documents; Go to www.slideshare.net and explore the hundreds of PowerPoint presentations and
PDF documents available for download and as web based slideshows about Social Media.
3. Video; Go to www.YouTube.com and use the keyword “Socialnomics” in YouTube’s search
engine. Socialnomics is the title of a book written by Eric Qualman, who created an animated
video presentation showcasing many eye opening facts and news about how significant Social
Media has become There are thousands of blogs that contain information about Social Media, so
I encourage you to do Google searches using the following keywords:
a. “Automotive Digital Marketing”
b. “Automotive Social”
d. “Social Marketing for Car Dealers”, “Social Media Marketing for Car Dealers” and
“social marketing for car dealers”.
So let’s look at when you should do Social Media and please e-mail any questions or comments on this
Read before starting Social Media
Social Media like all communication is the distribution of information and as is often the case, is
misinformation. The Internet is a content aggregator and if Social Media is one chapter of that content
your Website represents an entire book. If you participate in Social Media you can help guide the
message and more importantly listen for opportunities to share the stories around your dealership. Before
you jump into the deep end of the Social Media pool there are a few things that we should cover.
There are two components that need to be in place before moving forward. First get your website in good
order. Your website should act as the hub of digital activity. You should think of your website as the
physical dealership (that exists on the internet). Is the inventory up to date? Does the site look clean and
have a purpose or does it look like a collection of random screaming signs? Do you have content on your
website that speaks to all the good things your dealership does in the community? Do you have pictures
and video of your staff? If not that’s ok but you should put a plan in place to do so as you roll out Social
Media. Understanding that Social Media will not result in sales in the next 30 days is important. In fact
the goal isn’t to overtly drive traffic to your website, but that will happen and what visitors find at your
website will either cement the relationship or derail it. Focus on your website first.
If you need help regarding your website there are many companies available who can provide well
designed websites, Mazda happens to have a relationship with Dealerskins (see
http://mazdadealers.dealerskins.com/ for additional information). Additionally, the Mazda digital team
would be happy to provide input and guidance on an individual basis.
The Second element that needs to be in order is the processes your dealership has around internet
customers (both service and sales leads). If you do not have a documented process and it is just being
handled, stop and document the process so that these customers are being treated in a consistent manner
that you would be proud of. Understand what works to create satisfied customers who refer business.
This step is important because bad experiences will be shared as well as good ones and Social Media in
combination with the latest technologies and mobile devices will make it happen with more volume and
velocity than ever. Having a process in place at least provides the framework for consistency and also the
baseline for improvement. Once you have accomplished these two steps then you may be ready for Social
Media, but first you will have to ask yourself what is Social Media good for?
Social Media: Good for the soul and great for the Brand.i
The soul of a business is in its relationship with customers. It is not the business that has the relationship,
it is the cumulative efforts of its team members (employees) that do. Our employees are the soul of our
businesses. Take care of your soul (your employees) and they will represent your brand in a great way.
This is true online or off.
Social Media has had positive impact on employee retention in many cases. If empowered employees
begin to feel ownership and pride in the dealership they talk about it to their friends and family and this is
the core of Social media.
Social Media helps to amplify a Brand, but its goal isn’t to sell the deal, in fact it’s to sell the dealership!
I remember a General Sales Manager who shared his four step approach for selling.
1)Sell them on yourself
2)Sell them on why this dealership
3)Sell them on why this product
4)Sell them on why this deal
The point was to earn the customer’s trust on a personal and team level and then land them on a product
and purchase plan. As an active member of your community the benefits your dealership brings to the
community is a part of the value-add equation your dealership brings to its customers.
In short when a customer buys from your dealership they are helping to support the community through
the taxes that you pay, the people that you employ, the social causes and charities that you support and so
on. In return for purchasing a Mazda at your store, customers are investing in their community. Social
Media can amplify the stories around each of these elements which can be leveraged to bolster your
Capturing and sharing the stories around all of the community service activities your dealership is
involved with is important because as more and more shoppers are researching not only the Make and
Model but the dealership, it is important to have information available for them to read. This content
provides another benefit to your dealership in the form of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is
increasingly taking into account mentions and references within the Social Media space. Participation in
Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter can help your website increase its SEO effectiveness. Google’s
latest search algorithms (Google Caffeine) places more emphasis on fresh content. This is yet another
reason to participate with Social Media.
So how do you engage with Social Media?
Start with listening and learning. I will walk through several free tools with which you can see and hear
what is being said about your dealership. Getting the lay of the land is the first step. I don’t want your
dealership to have paralysis from analysis. If you don’t like what you see or hear; don’t argue with it
instead solve it. Solve the customers concerns (if possible) but under no circumstance get into a debate or
heated discussion online.
When you get ready to engage in Social Media utilize a member(s) of your team who is fluent in Social
Media (probably someone in the 18-29 age group). This should be fun for them but formalize time and
compensation for them to work on Social Media.
Listening is often harder then speaking. Social Media is a process that will build value for your dealership
over a time. It starts with understanding where the perception of your dealership presently is. This can
often be a painful exercise but it is critical because of the permanence of materials on the internet.
I will outline several tools that will allow you to get a high level view of where your dealership stands in
the Social Mediascape. I suggest that you look at all of them and consider using them in an ongoing
fashion not only to monitor your reputation but also the reputations of your competitors from which you
can mine ideas and learning... You should not rely on any single tool because each has its filters, I would
recommend using: Google, Social Mention, How Sociable, Yelp and Technorati in addition to monitoring
your dealership on Edmunds and other automotive specific forums. If you are interested in additional tool
sets contact me and I will share my latest findings with you.
Things you should be listening for:
•The general vibe about the Mazda brand
•The general vibe about your dealership
•Specific problems or opportunities for your dealerships (complaints, compliments, etc. that yield insights
into areas for improvement)
•Finding your friends online. Look for the people who are writing about your dealership, good or bad.
Keep in mind that anyone who takes the time to write about you is valuable. And even if someone has bad
things to say, that person can generally pretty easily be turned around and can often become an avid
Social Listening Tools:
Listening online should always start with the search engines. Utilize Google, Yahoo and Bing and search
your dealership and even your competitor’s dealerships to understand what is being presented. Don’t stop
at the first page of results look on a many pages as there is relevant content. Don’t just think sales; think
about your dealership from a Parts and Service perspective too! Each of the search engines also have
Images, Video, Maps, Shopping and in some cases Local. The next thing that you should do is go onto
your mobile phone and do the same thing. Mobile web use has been increasing and with the confluence
of the iPhone, Motorola Droid and soon to be released Apple and Google tablet computers, mobile will
probably start to enter a new growth phase. Check your results in each of these categories and if you need
help check with the person who works on your search engine optimization efforts or give the specific
property a call and ask for help.
Social Mention: www.socialmention.com
Social Mention describes itself as a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user
generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily
track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across
the web's social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties
directly including: Twitter, Face book, Friend Feed, YouTube, Digg, Google, etc. Go to
Socialmention.com for more details
What should you do with Social Mention? Go to the tool and enter your dealerships’ name. Don’t get lost
in the sentiment scores but look at where and how your dealership is mentioned. This is one of my
favorite free listening tools and it provides both a monitoring services as well as the ability to perform a
deeper dive into the Social Media-scape relative to your dealership.
One of the many features I like about SocialMention is its ability to drill down into categories (Blogs,
Micro blogs, Network, Comments, Events, News, Video, Audio, Questions) and also into one or a few of
the Social Media sites that you desire. Another useful feature is its ability to set up daily e-mail alerts.
That allows you to receive updates right to your e-mail box.
Yelp is an independent site with millions of user-submitted evaluations targeted on a local basis. While
some view the site as being named for its howling customers, Yelp is hugely popular and in many ways
has replaced the Yellow Pages. Yelp is one site where consumers share their experience; however it’s one
of the few that lets reviewees talk back. After businesses expressed concern about their reputation getting
unfairly represented on their site, Yelp responded by allowing proprietors to e-mail reviewers directly and
make instant changes to their company profiles on the site. They are receiving over 20 million unique
visitors every month and have created mobile applications for their tools.
So what do you do? Find your business on Yelp, claim it and make sure that you actively engage with
Yelp. While you are at it take a look at some of your competitors on Yelp just to be familiar with what
consumers are saying about them.
Technorati is one of the first blog search engines and currently indexes millions of blog posts in real time and
surfaces them in seconds. Technorati.com tracks not only the authority and influence of blogs, but also the most
comprehensive and current index of who and what is most popular in the blogosphere. While it focuses on more
macro issues, you should search your dealership name or the names of your competitors to see what is being
captured and reported in the blogosphere.
You have completed the listening phase and you are ready to jump into the social media pool. Social
Mention lists nearly 80 different tools. I want you to focus on Four (Facebook, You Tube, Flickr and
Twitter). While there are varieties (100s) of social media environments, these four have the greatest
critical mass. Facebook gets over a 120 million unique visitors a month. YouTube gets over 80 million
unique visitors a month. Flickr gets over 25 million unique visitors a month and is often the image engine
powering Facebook pages. While there are many other sites, these are the four that we (Mazda) have
focused on and I believe that your dealership should focus on.
YouTube (Create and Post Video)
YouTube is an important element of your digital strategy, regardless of your entry into the Social Media
space. YouTube is now the second largest search engine on the web, so if you’re not posting video there,
you’re missing out on a significant opportunity to reach potential customers. Your dealership should be
shooting video of your new and used car inventory and posting it on YouTube. The SEO importance of
having video on YouTube is critical to your website’s ranking in Google. Because of the viral nature of
video, it serves as a platform to propagate links for your website which will increase the relevance of your
website in Google.
Put your commercials on YouTube, put outtakes of your commercials on YouTube, put video of any
events that your dealership sponsors on YouTube, put videos of your entire used and new inventory on
YouTube. And please make sure that you have appropriately tagged the videos with your dealerships
name and website among the other metadata fields.
Flickr (Post Still Photos)
While there are many photo sharing sites, Flickr is one of my favorites because of its abundant use within
Facebook. Out of all the photo sharing websites, Flickr’s community is arguably the best and the most
social. The tool is easy to use and many people turn to it as a stock photography resource. Again, like
YouTube, you want to post pictures of any events that you are sponsoring (e.g. the little league team),
parties or charities and of course any new and used inventory. Go onto Flickr and search for Mazda: you
will find over 159,000 items. Now search for your dealership or better yet Mazda plus the name of your
town… What do you find?
Facebook (Create a Fan Page)
With over 90 million people on Facebook in the United States and over 300 million worldwide, Face
book is the largest and arguably most influential social environment. If you are going to invest your time /
money into a Social Media effort, Facebook is where you should turn to third, yes third. First get your
videos posted onto YouTube then your images onto Flickr… now you are ready to create a Facebook
page. Have fun and make sure that your team (employees) know about the page and use it to help
celebrate and motivate them. Not everyone in your dealership will be into Facebook, but you can be sure
everyone has heard of it and even if they don’t admit it they are curious what all the noise is about. Keep
it fun and respectful and recognize that there is a social media code of conduct which you should follow.
Twitter was born from a desire of friends to stay abreast of what they are doing. A cross between
blogging and text messaging Twitter is more about broadcasting than conversations. The 140 character
limitation makes the tool a challenge for anyone who is long winded. The strength of Twitter is really
found in events where there is information that needs to be rolled out in a quick manner. For business it
is important to know what Twitter is and watch how it (and other similar products like Plurk and Twitxr)
evolves. If you do participate in Twitter (then you would be tweeting) I would encourage you to follow
the axiom of having something interesting to say and be interested in what is being said. The recipe on
micro-blogging isn’t finalized but it is clearly in the mainstream. If you have questions about Twitter I
encourage you to call me
Mazda as a Social Media Brand
Mazda has been recognized as one of the most adopted enthusiast automotive brands. Forrester research
cites Mazda owners as among the most creative forces in the automotive Social Media space. In
Facebook with minimal corporate participation there are more Mazda groups than VW or Porsche. The
difference is that other Brands have put capital and resources behind their social media efforts and the
volume of fans are dramatically larger. Mazda has an opportunity to support this community as
champions of the Mazda Brand.
What is Mazda doing in the social space?
Solidifying our fan base. As you probably already know, Mazda has been recognized as a leading
enthusiast brand. Forrester Research has recognized Mazda owners for their devotion to the brand, and
there are more consumer-generated Mazda groups on Facebook and other social networks than for many
larger automotive brands.
Until now, consumers have been loving Mazda on their own, without any significant support or
organization from the company. So our first order of business is to embrace all of our brand champions
out there and let them know that Mazda cares about them and supports what they're doing. With a little
encouragement, these evangelists will help carry the brand forward in effective and authentic ways.
Mazda is building beachheads in relevant Social Media environments, each with its own purpose. For
- Twitter. Connecting with people who are talking about their Mazda’s and their affinity for the brand.
- Facebook. Creating a network of Mazda enthusiasts to share ideas and various types of content.
- YouTube. Giving enthusiasts access to high quality racing footage, and building relationships with the
people who are creating their own videos related to Mazda.
- Flickr. Offering access to professional quality product shots and giving aspiring photographers the
opportunity to have their work seen.
See: Mazda in Social Media @
What does Mazda expect to gain?
The benefits of having an active fan base that is aligned with the brand's strategy are profound. First of
all, this creates an audience which has given permission to engage them. Instead of hoping they'll receive
our marketing messages, our previous relationships with them mean that they'll not only engage with us,
but also introduce us to new audiences we're not currently reaching.
By being part of these authentic, peer-to-peer conversations, Mazda will reach new consumers efficiently
and without the challenges of having to convince them to consider the brand.
Closing thoughts on Social Media
Do not think of social media as only digital. The core of social media is an experience. Think about the
technology as an amplifier through which your experience can be shared. The idea is to capture the
stories that resonate with people. Use Twitter to gather the stream of comments during an event and then
facebook/flickr/YouTube to publish the experience for everyone to share.
If you are going to implement social media with-in your dealership there has to be some ground rules.
What is said on-line is permanent. Don’t write anything in anger and where necessary take the
conversation off-line and in private. A simple rule of thumb is to expect that everything that you write
will be on the cover of your hometown newspaper. If you are uncomfortable with that, then rethink what
you are writing/publishing.
Just as social skills are necessary in life they also apply in the on-line world. The same concept is applied
to legal rules. If you write something online that is defamatory you are held to the same legal standard as
if you published the comment in a newspaper. I recommend that each dealership have a Social Media
Policy that every employee acknowledges and have provided a sample in the appendix.
Social Media Policies (for reference only)
Do not forget about updating your Human Resource Policies. Several companies have published their
Social Media policies at http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php. Chris Boudreaux has done an
excellent job in aggregating and sharing best practices in Social Media Governance.
Sample Social Media policy
-For personal blogs or social media interactions:
1.If I write anything related to (Insert Dealer Name Here) on my personal pages, or posts or
comments on the pages belonging to any third-parties, I will clearly identify my business
affiliation with (Insert Dealer Name Here).
2.The manner of disclosure can be flexible as long as it is clear to the average reader, directly
connected to the relevant post, or provides a means of communicating further (Example
disclosure methods could include: usernames that include the company name, link to bio or
about me page, or statement in the post itself “I work for __<company>___ and this is my
3.I will specifically clarify which posts/comments are my own opinions vs. official corporate
4.Writing which does not mention work-related topics does not need to mention the
5.If I choose to blog anonymously, I will not discuss matters related to (Insert Dealer Name
Here). If any (Insert Dealer Name Here) -related topics are mentioned, I will disclose my
affiliation with the Company.
6.Even though your blog posts may be primarily made up of personal opinion, do your
research well and check that your facts are accurate. Make sure you have permission to post any
copyrighted or confidential information (e.g., images) to your blog, and be careful about posting
or linking to items that may contain viruses.
7.(Insert Dealer Name Here) does not intend to “police” the social media community. Quite
the contrary: we want to aggregate all the powerful stories (Insert Dealer Name Here) employees
are telling and showcase your individual contribution and gather links on a Dealers website. If
you intend to discuss (Insert Dealer Name Here) in social media, please contact (insert Name) at
(Insert Phone Number or e-mail address) for questions, concerns or general guidance.
8.Blog postings may generate media coverage. If a member of the media contacts you about
a (Insert Dealer Name Here) -related blog posting or requests (Insert Dealer Name Here)
information of any kind, contact PR at ______. You should also reach out for PR for clarification
on whether specific information has been publicly disclosed before you blog about it.
When communicating with blogs or bloggers on behalf of your dealership, I will:
1.Disclose who I am, who I work for and any other relevant affiliations from the very first
2.Always be truthful.
3.Never ask bloggers to write a fake endorsement or something they do not believe.
4.Never use off-topic comment for self-promotional intent.
5.Never take action contrary to the specific boundaries, terms and conditions, and community
guidelines set by each blog.
6.Use extreme care when communicating with minors or blogs intended to be read by
7.Comply with all laws and regulations regarding disclosure of identity.
8.Make it clear to our employees and agencies that these rules apply to them.
Sample Social Media Code of Ethics (for Company blogs and social media profiles)
1.I will tell the truth.
2.I will write deliberately and with accuracy.
3.I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
4.I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as
to maintain the integrity of my publishing.
5.I will never delete a post.
6.I will not delete comments unless they are spam, off-topic, or obscene.
7.I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.
8.I will strive for high quality with every post – including basic spellchecking.
9.I will stay on topic.
10.I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
11.I will link to online references and original source materials directly.
12.I will disclose conflicts of interest.
13.I will keep private issues and topics private, since discussing private issues would
jeopardize my personal and work relationships.
These are only samples please consult your attorney for legal advice relative to this area.
Last but not least don’t be afraid of social media just be prepared for what you will find. It is neither all
positive nor negative and the community is incredibly forgiving and optimistic. To start with go online
and look at What Mazda has done and if you have questions call me (David Harris 949-727-6457)