Automotive Social Media Marketing - AutoSuccess Magazine Parts 1, 2 and 3 Published in October, November and December 2009 Issues - Written by Ralph Paglia
WHY DEALERS NEED A SOCIAL
MEDIA AND REPUTATION
MANAGEMENT STRATEGY, PART 1
Social Networking: 2.0.” This Web-empowered social evolution in a positive way when they are spending
An Introduction is building up to a tsunami-sized wave, and time in various social networks and UGC
I’ve been selling cars for more than 28 years, the impact will make any previous inﬂuence sites. This can be as simple as placing an
and using digital marketing to do it for 23 of the Internet has had on the car business advertisement on Facebook that targets
them. I ﬁrst started using digital marketing during the past 14 years look mild in people in the dealer’s local market, providing
in 1986 by posting “liner ads” on defense comparison. Over the next few issues, we’ll an invitation to join the online community of
contractor Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) be looking at how to harness these new tools like-minded consumers that is sponsored by
while working at a Volkswagen dealership to build more business. the dealership. In this community, there are
in San Diego. Car guys who have known no ads, and it is free to local owners of the
me for any length of time know that almost Before we go any further, consider these dealer’s brand.
everything I have predicted over the years words of caution: For many dealers, this
in regards to how the Internet would affect type of social media initiative will attract Today, automotive consumers spend far more
selling cars has come to pass, and within the the attention of customer segments that your time online visiting their social networks
time frames I predicted. So, here’s what I sales and management teams may have had and UGC sites like YouTube and Flickr than
know is coming at us right now, without any very few previous opportunities to deal with. anywhere else on the Internet. The amount
hedging of bets or wavering. Because many of these customer segments of time automotive consumers spend here
have not been interacting with your sales dwarfs the time they spend looking at Google
Social media is changing the way people people in recent years, your team will need search results, automotive Web sites or any
get their information. It’s moving customer to develop some new skills and get used to other type of online site. This means that
information sources further away from communicating in different ways if they want social marketing is ﬁshing where the ﬁsh are.
marketers and their advertising channels to successfully engage with them. More on that next issue.
(that would be you), and closer to the people
that they relate to and interact with in their What is Social Media Marketing? Ralph Paglia is the director of digital
online communities. Social networks, user- I have learned that, for car dealers, “social marketing at ADP Dealer Services. He
generated content (UGC) sites, and all their marketing” is essentially whatever tactics can be contacted at 866.883.9250, or by
variations make up what people call “Web can be used to engage automotive consumers e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the #1 sales-improvement magazine for the automotive professional
WHY DEALERS NEED A SOCIAL
MEDIA AND REPUTATION
MANAGEMENT STRATEGY, PART 2
Simply put, social this way: In less than a week, these negative hand, if your dealership has been directing
media is changing the online reviews and customer ratings of your best customers to a designated
way people get their information about the their experiences at a dealership can reverse dealership review and rating site, and there
stuff they are thinking about buying. It is also the positive impact of a $100,000 monthly are more than 50 reports entered over a span
moving customer information sources further advertising campaign. of many months, those same bogus reports
away from marketers and their advertising look inconsistent and exaggerated at best,
channels (that would be you), and closer to Automotive consumers trust the reports, and outright lies at worst. Wouldn’t it be
the people they relate to, and interact with, in reviews and ratings posted online by other better to have dozens of raving fan-written
their online communities. Social networks, consumers far more than the information reviews show up in a search for dealers
user-generated content (UGC) sites, and all and messaging produced by dealers and their selling your make?
their variations make up what people call employees. A rapidly increasing percentage
“Web 2.0.” of car buyers and service customers So ask yourself these questions: Are you
are making buying decisions based on aware of what customers are saying about
What is Social Media Marketing? what other customers report on sites like your dealership? What about ex-employees?
Dealers should consider social media Edmunds, Yelp, Kudzu, MyDealerReport. What about competing dealership employees
marketing to be the tactics that can be used to com, CarDealerCheck.com and DealerRater. posing as consumers? Information travels
engage automotive consumers in a positive com. The Nielson Company, for example, quickly across the Internet. Have you set up
way when they are spending time in various reports that 76 percent of car buyers rely Google Alerts for the name of your dealership
social networks and UGC sites. Social media most on what their friends and family tell so that you get an e-mail every time someone
marketing also includes the creation of a them about vehicle makes and models publishes it online with a link to the Web
plan that identiﬁes the sites to target and the considered during the shopping cycle. page it appears on? If “no,” then why not?
nature of the dealer’s presence on each of Meanwhile, only 22 percent of car buyers
those sites. This can be as simple as placing report basing their selection on what they Bottom line: Start listening to the online
an advertisement on Facebook that targets read in a magazine or newspaper. Another conversations about your dealership and
people in the dealer’s local market. research study, done by the Yankelovich the people who work there. Better yet,
ﬁrm and published by J. D. Power, asked car you should be leading, stimulating and
As we have seen happen over the years with buyers “What is the best source of advice on providing the venue for the majority of these
traditional media, online media has evolved a new car?” A full two-thirds (67 percent) conversations affecting how automotive
to better serve people’s wants and needs. responded with “another consumer.” consumers view your dealership.
Since 2001, the cost of server-based storage
has steadily declined, paving the way for Additionally, in 2005, it was found that 92 For car dealers, more than most business
cheap and plentiful online hosting of free percent of automotive consumers reported owners, it is imperative that you have
Web sites provided to consumers in exchange that “word of mouth” was their best source of systems in place to actively listen for
for the revenue from advertisements that information on new products. anything being posted about your dealership,
appear on their blogs, proﬁles, forums, and a process for immediately addressing
photo and video pages. Further technology Even the competing dealer on the other side anything being said online that is negative or
developments such as broadband Internet of town can spread malicious rumors about defamatory. That’s reputation management
access and Web-based applications your dealership and in the hopes of stealing versus reputation chaos.
(MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) have your market share. It is important to realize
Next month, we’ll examine a dealer’s social
created easy-to-use, fast and robust features that, in the absence of a dealership exerting
media and reputation management action plan.
that streamline the online establishment of some level of control and inﬂuence over
these sites. their online consumer reviews, just a few Ralph Paglia, is the director of digital
bogus reports can become your dealership’s marketing at ADP Dealer Services. He can
Today, automotive consumers spend a lot new reputation when there are no other be contacted at 866.883.9250, or by e-mail
of time online visiting their social networks reviews of your dealership. On the other at email@example.com.
and UGC sites, such as YouTube and Flickr.
In other words, with social marketing you Top Online Member Communities Destinations Ranked By Unique Audience
are “ﬁshing where the ﬁsh are.” Just imagine Site June 2008 June 2009 Y-O-Y
both the potential that these communities can
provide to your dealership, or the loss to your Member Communities Category 108,341 138,635 28%
dealership if you fail to connect. Facebook 29,292 87,254 198%
Myspace.com 59,549 62,831 6%
What is Online Reputation Blogger 40,553 42,922 6%
Management? Twitter.com 1,033 20,950 1,928%
In today’s world of UGC sites, customers WordPress.com 17,201 16,922 -2%
can quickly air their opinions. Because there Classmates Online 15,474 16,224 5%
are so many sites soliciting consumers’ LinkedIn 9,583 11,417 19%
viewpoints, a negative review or dealership
Six Apart TypePad 11,189 10,079 -10%
rating may be instantly seen by thousands of
Yahoo! Groups 9,801 8,364 -15%
local customers before a dealer is aware that
2 the negative report even exists! Think of it Tagged.com 2,867 7,625 166%
0 Source: Nielsen NetView, June 2009, (U.S. Home and Work)
WHY DEALERS NEED A SOCIAL
MEDIA AND REPUTATION
Last month, I provided
you with an overview
meetings to motivate and engage dealership
employees from every department with
of social media marketing, and a reputation practical guidance and rewards. also be included to limit the ads to appearing
management strategy. This month, we look at only in front of local Facebook users in the
some action items that can help you take your Coach salespeople on how to use their own dealer’s community that meet the age and
ﬁrst steps into this world. “hub and spoke” strategy that leverages their employment segment targets for each ad.
account in the dealership’s online community
How Do I Get This Handled? to efﬁciently share specials, incentives, new Internal Campaign Prior to
In order to take advantage of what social inventory, model intros and stories about their Going Public
media, user-generated content (UGC) and customers across multiple social networks. One of the most important aspects of putting
Web 2.0 Web-based assets offer, you will together a successful dealership social
Assess your Internet sales or BDC operations marketing and reputation management
need to assign resources to ﬁnd, harvest and
and the team’s ability to engage customers strategy and implementation is the way the
develop the sites, blogs, accounts, proﬁles,
using multiple social media channels, while dealership leverages the employees and
fan pages, tweets and other content that
managing the conversation and relationship suppliers. Before getting too far ahead of
represents your dealership’s offerings and
all the way through to a face-to-face meeting yourself by inviting customers to join the
describes what customers can expect from the
at the dealership. Do they know when (and centrally featured dealership community site,
shopping and buying experience at your store.
when not) to shift from a relationship- you must get as many employees to join the
Basically, you have three ways to get your
building conversation to a sales-focused community as possible.
dealership in the game:
process that adapts to the way each customer
• Do It Yourself = Lower Cost + More Additional Action Items for Dealers
prefers to buy a car? Determine and deliver
Work — Requires a major time to Consider:
the appropriate training, coaching and
commitment; set-ups require between • Leverage the overwhelming growth in
supervision needed based on previous item.
75 and 100 hours of uninterrupted focus, consumer use of social networks and
along with daily process execution and Hub and Spoke Social Media UGC to develop your social marketing
content creation. Marketing Strategy and reputation management strategy that
• Get Professional Help = One Time One approach is the use of OEM-provided utilizes “positive word of mouth.”
Expense + Less Work Up Front — social media press releases (SMPR) within • Create your own online community of
Faster startup and set-up; the account dealership-sponsored and managed online customers, employees and suppliers ﬁlled
structure is done quickly and typically social communities. These Web sites are with high-quality content such as videos,
better built and the strategy is designed, the key to the “dealership community” photos, the latest reviews and road tests,
documented and initiated. concept and practice. Using these dealership interviews and articles supplied by
• Outsource To Supplier = Recurring communities as the central point creates “the OEM, enthusiast publications, dealership
Expense + Least Work + Consistent hub” for distributing customer-engaging employees and consumers.
Tactical Execution — videos, photos, articles, reviews, ratings • Build and deploy a comprehensive
Upfront costs may be reduced by and other goodies. This strategy of asset syndication strategy that uses Really
spreading over contract term; dealer may distribution allows dealers to leverage Simple Syndication (RSS) and embedded
get more accountability, monthly reviews resources supplied by OEMs (such as the HTML code (widgets) built into your
of measurement data with benchmark SMPRs, YouTube videos and Flickr slide dealership-sponsored community to push
analysis, professional guidance, more shows), content generated by vehicle owners, content and member activities out to the
professional content and graphics, better dealership employees, suppliers and other most popular sites on the Web.
integration technology, widgets and community members to be leveraged in
customized HTML upgrades. a social network distribution schema that What’s the Pay Off?
attracts targeted customer segments by This will provide you with a competitive
A Brief Blueprint supplying an ever-increasing membership advantage in your market. Make no mistake,
Regardless of which approach you take, it base within the dealer’s community. there are many dealers around you who will use
is key to commit the ﬁnancial and human social marketing and reputation management
resources needed to get your social marketing Online Advertising Budget to to conquest business from you and then keep
and reputation management strategy in place Support Social Media Marketing those customers so that you are unlikely to get
before the end of the ﬁrst quarter in 2010. The most successful “hub and spoke” another shot at their business in the future.
Key sites to consider as part of an action social marketing/reputation management
plan include Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, dealers feature their communities in online Scared yet? Don’t be. If you’re squeamish or
LinkedIn, Flickr, Digg, Blogger, YouTube, advertising. Other ads invite Facebook don’t have the staff to properly run your online
Wordpress, Typepad, Ning and Delicious. members to become a “fan” of the dealership marketing, you can always hire part-time
by visiting the dealer’s Facebook fan page. A college students (or unemployed investment
After building your dealership’s Web 2.0 dealer’s Facebook fan page can be a gateway bankers) for less than a decent lot attendant;
community, deﬁne and assign the daily to the dealership community site with links, you better have a plan, however, and a set of
tasks that will get your community’s content videos, photo slide shows and other content, tasks that you want them to get done.
created and syndicated out to social media, which is actually hosted on the dealership
generating trafﬁc and valuable back-links. community site but appears within Facebook Ralph Paglia is the director of digital
courtesy of the syndication integration that marketing at ADP Dealer Services. He
Build social networking connections with can be set up from the dealership community can be contacted at 866.883.9250, or by
2 existing customers while using weekly site. Geotargeting and demographic ﬁlters can e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.