Kathy Ruble
Vice President Sales,
Dealership Online Services
Ally Auto
Andrea Riley
Chief Marketing Officer
Ally Auto
Our ...
MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 3
Your guide to driving car,
truck sales via social media
e talk with dealers across the
ocial media is not just about Facebook
posts, tweets and YouTube videos.
■ What is it? Facebook is an online so-
cial networking service. ...
■ What makes it unique? Pinterest is highly visual
and is effective in driving traffic to Web sites. It is also
seen as a ...
8 ❙ MAY 5, 2014
Why should car dealers pay attention to so-
cial media?
Social media has grown over 800 percent in the
MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 9
It sounds intimidating, but many third-party
resources are available to help dealers popu-
late their Face...
n February, a Holman Ford Maple Shade service tech-
nician was doing a rou...
MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 11
How Facebook helps rural dealer reach
consumers more effectively than TV
s part of its rebranding campaign, AutoNation In...
Automakers can get dealers up to speed
f you’re a dealer or manager who wants to rev up your
social media efforts, automak...
Ali Ahmed President and CEO,
Atlantic Coast Auto Group
©2014 Ally Financial. All rights reserved.
Great customer experienc...
Social Media Guide
Social Media Guide
Social Media Guide
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Social Media Guide

  1. 1. Kathy Ruble Vice President Sales, Dealership Online Services Ally Auto Andrea Riley Chief Marketing Officer Ally Auto Our leadership thinking extends from your floor space to the social space. At Ally, we’re constantly challenging ourselves to find new ways to help our dealers be more successful. From social marketing programs to our innovative training and CRM tools, we’re continuing to lead the way with unrivaled ideas, passion and dedication.To learn more, visit ally.com/dealer or contact an Ally Account Executive. ©2014 Ally Financial. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 3 Your guide to driving car, truck sales via social media W E L C O M E e talk with dealers across the country on a regular basis as part of Ally’s “all in” approach to serving our customers. A topic that comes up often is the use of social media, and we have found that dealers fall into two pools. While many dealers have begun to truly embrace the technology and use it as a tool to boost their businesses, some still think they lack the resources or expertise to pursue a social media plan. It’s hard to believe that social media outlets weren’t even on the radar for most of us a few years ago. Today, they’ve become an important and nearly inseparable part of our personal and business lives. Social media provides a new dimension for customer engagement — and dealers are finding that more often, that’s the way their customers want to be engaged. A robust online presence can show prospective buyers what a dealership has to offer, and can even build trust and relationships long before a customer walks through the showroom doors. Forecasters say that in 10 years, the tech-savvy millennial generation — the largest generation in U.S. history — will be responsible for nearly 40 percent of all vehicle sales. But even beyond millennials, the 55- to 64-year-old age group is now the fastest growing demographic on Twitter. The fact is, the game is changing and social media is no longer a piece of the puzzle that dealers can ignore. That’s why we’ve dedicated this issue of Ally Auto to exploring social media to help dealers understand their growing importance to our industry. I hope you find the issue a valuable resource. Tim Russi, Ally Financial president of auto finance W SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT 5 Social media: By the numbers 6-7 Your guide to social media platforms 8-9 Q&A with Ally’s Andrea Riley 9 How Connect4Content helps dealers 10 Dealer profile: Holman Automotive Group 11 Dealer profile: Crotty Chevrolet-Buick 12 Dealer profile: AutoNation 13 Social media checklist 14 Best practices 15 How automakers can help dealers ● inside STORIES WRITTEN BY JULIE LIESSE
  3. 3. 4 ❙ MAY 5, 2014 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT ocial media is not just about Facebook posts, tweets and YouTube videos. Yes, social media is how Americans keep in touch with friends and family online. But social media also, increasingly, is how people find out about businesses and brands, how they form opinions about what they might buy, and how they gather information as they shop. Nielsen estimates that more than 20 percent of the time people spend online on their computers is on social media sites — and that number rises to about a third of their online time on mobile phones. Consider that 90 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds-moving into their prime consumer years use social media. For dealers, social media represents a new way of communicating with car buyers, and a new way of doing business, because social media can help dealers: ■ Stay in touch with past, current and prospective buyers on a personal and daily basis. ■ Provide information to car shoppers who are using computers and mobile phones to search for a dealership — and craft a positive impression even before a customer walks through the door. ■ Target advertising to consumers using sophisticated geographic and demographic breakdowns, as well as predictive data. ■ Generate service business. ■ Share news and expertise: Showcase automakers’ brand information — including new product launches and ad campaigns — and offer tips and knowledge about car and truck operation and maintenance. ■ Build a strong online reputation by listening to what people are saying about their dealerships, and responding quickly and professionally to customer complaints. ■ Celebrate when someone gets the keys to a new car, creating brand advocates who will spread the word about good purchase and service experiences. ■ Connect with car enthusiasts. ■ Engage younger consumers in a way they prefer and be part of their conversation. ■ Highlight community involvement and shine a light on their staff’s work on and off the job. The bottom line? Social media is essential to reaching consumers in the competitive world of selling cars and trucks. Learn how to use it to your advantage. “ “ “Social media is that direct dialog you can have every day with people. It’s the opportunity to talk to your most important customers every single day — something every dealer would love to have.” Mark Aikman, Mercedes-Benz “I say to everyone that my first job is to sell a car. If you put something out on social media, you don’t always immediately know the effect it is going to have. But you have planted a seed.” Mary Henige, General Motors “Social media is a must. You need to be relevant and top-of-mind — especially considering today’s connected consumer spends a great deal of time on social media.” Kate Alini, BMW of North America “Although it’s nice to share content with our followers, the real gold is having our customers share positive content with their own social networks. It exposes us to a whole new population of potential customers; it’s word of mouth at its best.” Jeremy Paolone, Holman Automotive Group “The framework of how much information people have access to now, and how they can get opinions has changed the way people shop for and buy things — especially cars. People are experts before they get into the real negotiations, and digital has influenced that.” Kass Dawson, Facebook S SOCIAL❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙ BE
  4. 4. 6 ❙ MAY 5, 2014 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT PLATFORMS ■ What is it? Facebook is an online so- cial networking service. A user creates a profile for a Facebook page and can add other Facebook users as friends, allowing them to view each other’s posts. Users can also “like” pages of other users such as celebrities, social causes and businesses; postings from those pages appear in the Facebook user’s feed. ■ How many people use it? Facebook has more than 1.2 billion users worldwide and more than 170 million in the United States. ■ Who uses it? Facebook is the most popular social media platform, used by 57 percent of American adults in all demographics. Excluding American adults who don’t go online, the share rises to 71 percent. And that’s just the consumer audience. Companies and brands also create Facebook pages to share information and engage with consumers. More than 15 million brands are on Facebook. ■ What do users do? Users post status updates, pho- tos and videos. They send messages to friends and post links to other online content. Each user’s news feed al- lows the user to look at the content and links from the user’s and the user’s friends’ pages, as well as the brand or business pages they have liked. ■ What makes it unique? It reaches the largest num- ber of social media users and spans all ages, regions and lifestyles. Users sign on to Facebook more often than any other social channel; 63 percent of Facebook users use the site daily, and 40 percent log in more than once a day. Visits to Facebook are longer than visits to other social media sites. ■ How can dealers use it? Dealers can create a deal- ership page for customers, employees and friends to “like” and post comments and questions. Dealerships can then share their content as well as links to other con- tent to engage those who like their pages in conversa- tions, build consumer confidence and help drive traffic to their Web sites. They can buy Facebook ads to pro- mote their pages and individual posts. Posts are a great way to introduce special offers for sales and service. ■ What is it? Twitter is an online social networking service that is often called a microblogging site because users com- municate through short messages. Users create Twitter names, or “handles,” with brief profiles, then can “fol- low” the posts written by other Twitter users — the posts appear in users’ timelines — as well has have their posts followed. ■ How many people use it? Twitter has 241 million users worldwide, and more than 50 million in the United States. ■ Who uses it? Twitter has strong appeal among younger adults, urban dwellers and nonwhites. Of 18- to 29-year-olds who go online, 31 percent use Twitter. Many corporate executives, celebrities, government offi- cials, pundits and reporters have personal Twitter ac- counts. More than 46 percent of Twitter users visit their Twitter feeds at least once a day. ■ What do users do? Users send tweets — messages limited to 140 characters. Tweets can include photos, videos and links to Web sites. Tweets can also include hashtags, which use the # symbol to mark keywords and topics. Twitter users can search for hashtags such as #RedCross, #FinalFour and #AutoMarketing to find in- formation and follow users of interest. ■ What makes it unique? Users can read tweets di- rectly from celebrities, corporate executives and sports stars. Nearly all news outlets use Twitter. Often, because of its quick and simple format, Twitter is the fastest way to break news and share announcements. ■ How can dealers use it? Dealers can create a Twit- ter account and handle (@CarDealer, for example), and post tweets to followers, follow others and reply and retweet content from other handles. Twitter is a great way to create and take part in conversations with cus- tomers, potential customers and auto enthusiasts. Deal- ers also can buy advertising on Twitter to boost their awareness. ■ What is it? Pinterest is an online scrapbook-style tool that lets users collect and organize such things as images, videos and quotes. ■ How many people use it? 70 million users ■ Who uses it? Women are four times as likely as men to be Pinterest users; 33 percent of adult women who go online use Pinterest. Pinterest users tend to be more highly educated and more affluent than the general pop- ulation. ■ What do users do? Users create collections by “pinning” items to personal pinboards — sort of like on- line bulletin boards. Users also can “follow” other peo- ple’s boards, which will feed postings to the user’s board. Boards can be owned solely by the account holder, or can be a “community” board that allows multiple people to pin to a board. Pinterest uses hashtags, similar to Twitter, making it easy for users to find content. ❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙ Facebook Twitter Pinterest >> CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE the
  5. 5. ■ What makes it unique? Pinterest is highly visual and is effective in driving traffic to Web sites. It is also seen as a strong lead generator; more than 47 percent of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from Pinterest. ■ How can dealers use it? Dealers can create a Pin- terest account, create a set of boards and start pinning and sharing other users’ original photography of vehi- cles, special cars for sale, vehicle tips and more. There is a great deal of vehicle-related information on Pinterest, and a category solely on cars and motorcycles makes the tool a natural fit for dealers to generate leads. ■ What is it? Google+ is a social net- working service operated by Google that is part of a connected suite of Google ap- plications such as Gmail and YouTube. ■ How many people use it? Google claims 540 mil- lion users, but many mainly use other Google applica- tions. Some surveys estimate that 16 percent of American adults use Google+. ■ Who uses it? Google+ users tend to skew toward younger men, especially those who consider themselves “tech geeks.” ■ What do users do? People and businesses can use Google+ as they use other social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. They can send messages, photos and even video chat with other Google+ users. They also can use Google+ to search for things such as restaurant and retail recommendations. ■ What makes it unique? A Google+ user’s public profile contains information and photos that appear when someone conducts a regular Google search. If someone with a Gmail account searches for an auto deal- ership, a Google+ profile is displayed if the dealership has created one. It would be the consumer’s first touch point. ■ How can dealers use it? Dealers can create a Google+ account and profile. Because so many people use Google to search for information, a Google+ profile can enable a dealer to share information about the deal- ership and create an immediate personal connection; it also allows the dealership to be readily accessible to mo- bile users. ■ What is it? Instagram, owned by Facebook, is a simple way to share photos and videos. ■ How many people use it? Instagram has 150 mil- lion users, with more than 90 percent under age 35. ■ Who uses it? Sixty-eight percent of Instagram users are female, 57 percent of Instagram users access the site daily and the average Instagram user spends 257 minutes a month on the site. ■ What do users do? Instagram users take and up- load images and videos, add visual filters to enhance the photos and share with friends. They also follow their friends, brands and other users that catch their eye so they can “like” and comment on each other’s images. In- stagram can be easily connected to Facebook and Twit- ter, making it easy for users to share images and videos across other platforms. ■ What makes it unique? Instagram is an easy-to- use platform that can be used only from a smartphone or tablet. Instagram focuses on providing a platform for users to showcase their creativity. ■ How can dealers use it? Dealers can create an In- stagram account and snap photos and take videos of anything visual at the dealership — vehicles, promo- tions, signs — to create a pictorial dealership experience. ■ What is it? Yelp is an online guide to help people find businesses such as restaurants and retail stores. Customers review businesses and rate them based on their experi- ences. ■ How many people use it? Yelp had 100 million unique visits to its Web site in January. Yelp users have written more than 53 million reviews since the guide was started in 2004. There are 1 million businesses with active profiles. ■ Who uses it? Seventy-eight percent of users have gone to college or graduate school, and more than a third have incomes of more than $100,000. Fifty-nine percent of searches on Yelp are conducted on mobile devices. ■ What do users do? By typing in a business category (such as “restaurant” or “auto dealer”) and a neighbor- hood location, users can search the database for local businesses, learn about companies and view what cus- tomers had to say about them. Once people have regis- tered with Yelp, they can sign in and post reviews. ■ What makes it unique? Customer reviews are the heart of Yelp. Although online consumers can post re- views and opinions in many places — including Face- book, Google+ and others — Yelp was created specifically to help consumers find local businesses. ■ How can dealers use it? Yelp can help dealers manage their stores’ reputations. Dealers can “claim” their business on Yelp by personalizing their pages with extra information such as business hours, photos and a link to the dealership Web site. They can also monitor what customers say about them and, when appropriate, send a public or private response to a reviewer. Sources: Company Web sites and press releases, VentureBeat, eMarketer, comScore, Pew Research Center, Automotive News social media experts MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 7 Google+ >> CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE Instagram Yelp SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT
  6. 6. 8 ❙ MAY 5, 2014 Why should car dealers pay attention to so- cial media? Social media has grown over 800 percent in the last five years. It has become a very viable chan- nel for consumers to shop not only for vehicles, but to shop for dealerships, shop for service and shop for fi- nance products. If you had talked to dealers 10 years ago and said, “You’re going to need an entire Internet department and that’s going to be the No. 1 source of your leads,” proba- bly nobody would have believed it. That’s really the same thing that we’re saying about social today: It’s become kind of the new norm and dealers absolutely have to pay attention to it. Social media have changed the idea of word of mouth, which has been an important part of buying a car. Talk about the role that social media play, from start to finish, for consumers looking for a car. Several years ago word of mouth was really asking a friend, having a conversation face-to- face with a colleague or an associate or a family member. Now what people do is they activate their social armies. We see example after example of people writing a message on their Facebook page with a post saying, “Hey, I’m thinking about getting a new car: What should I get?” Or, “I’m thinking about getting a new car, anybody know any dealers that I should go to, or any dealers that I should stay away from?” We know that five years ago the average customer physically shopped eight different dealerships before buying a car; today they’re shopping one dealership. And that’s because of the advent of social media, and the fact that they can do their own research online before they even walk in the door at the dealership — not only about the vehicle that they’re going to buy and where the in- ventory may exist, but about the dealership, about the reputation of the dealership, and about the deals and fi- nancing options that dealership has. How should dealers get started in social me- dia? Start with the basics. Dealers should go and make sure that they know what conversations are hap- pening about their dealership and their brand. So they should be looking at things like Yelp and Google+, and understanding what kind of reviews they’re receiving. Is the address for their dealership correct or incorrect? Will people know how to find their dealership? They should go and do simple searches on Google and other search engines and find out, where do they pop up? Are they popping up in top positions or are they buried on second or third or fourth pages? What kind of conver- sations are happening about their competitors? And then I think table stakes these days are for dealers to have a Facebook page and think about opening a Twit- ter account, and think about having something like Google+. &QA❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙ Andrea Riley has more than 20 years of automotive marketing experience. Riley, chief marketing officer for Ally Dealer Financial Services, also headed Chevrolet’s ad account during nearly two decades in the Detroit ad business. She spoke with writer Julie Liesse about how social media can help auto dealers build brands and drive sales. “ “Start with the basics. Dealers should go and make sure that they know what conversations are happening about their dealership and their brand.” Q A Q A Q A >> CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT
  7. 7. MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 9 It sounds intimidating, but many third-party resources are available to help dealers popu- late their Facebook pages and their Twitter feeds. Dealers don’t have to start from scratch, correct? Absolutely not. There are a lot of resources that exist for dealers today. Automakers are probably a great first stop for many dealers. We’re doing the same thing at Ally. We’re giving dealers access to Ally content through our Connect4Content program, where dealers simply have to accept posts that we’re pushing to them as we’re creating and curating content. Is a social media presence a “nice to have” thing, or should social media be part of deal- ers’ marketing efforts and regular budgets? I would say it’s way past the point of “nice to do.” It is a staple and a mainstay that is not going any- where. As you look at millennials and the future buyers for dealerships, it is their primary source of conversation; it is their primary source of information. And so, if a deal- er isn’t prepared for that customer or that buyer that’s going to be coming into the dealership down the road, they’re going to be missing out on a lot of busi- ness. It’s something that isn’t that expensive to do, and that’s one of the things that is very nice about social media. There’s no cost to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account; there is no cost to participate in Yelp; there’s no cost to blog; there’s no cost to push content out to your customers, most of it is just human capital. If dealers aren’t paying atten- tion to it they’re missing out, not only on conversations that are happening about their brand, but opportunities for plus sales, not only from leads that are coming from social, but customers that are looking for service information, and customers that are expecting answers from dealerships. The average customer expects an answer within one hour of posting something on a dealer’s social site, so dealers that aren’t responsive to social media are going to anger customers. What are the keys to making social media work for dealers? The first thing is, be honest in social. You should- n’t hide from bad reviews. You shouldn’t hide from hard questions. The way that a dealer takes on a conversation in social will go a long way in shaping a cus- tomer’s perception of their dealership. You can take a very negative and horrible situation and turn it into a very positive situation that not only pleases that cus- tomer, but also is an example to other customers — that you do the right thing when asked to do so. I’d say the second thing is, pay attention to social on a very regular basis. It’s not the kind of thing that you can just launch and leave. And lastly I would say, experiment and try things out. We do that on a very consistent basis at Ally. What you want to do is to get your customers to engage with you. And the more they can start to think about your social space as a destina- tion that they want to go to because there’s something in it for them, the more you’re going to see a happi- er customer and a more en- gaged customer. So keep in mind those simple three things and you’ll be very successful with social media. Q A Q A Q A Ally’s Connect4Content is there to lend a hand ealers looking to enhance their Facebook pages have a new, easy-to-use source: Ally’s Connect4Content program. Following a successful test in the fall, Ally is making Connect4Content available to all Ally dealers. Dealers can sign up for the program, which will send out Facebook wall posts. The posts will arrive via e-mail for participating dealers to review before posting. Typical content will offer consumers ideas about saving for a car, financing a car purchase and maintaining a ve- hicle, as well as potential special offers and promotions. Each week, the dealer can decide whether to use the pro- vided post. If a dealer clicks on “approve,” the post will be published automatically on the dealership Facebook page. If the dealer clicks on “deny,” the post will not appear. SocialDealer, which has teamed up with Ally, will pro- vide training and enrollment support for dealers. “Dealers want to be involved in social media but a com- mon roadblock is that they don’t have the expertise or re- sources to develop content,” said Andrea Riley, chief marketing officer for Ally Dealer Financial Services. “Ally recognizes that dealers need high-quality content for their social media channels, and this program will help dealers build rapport with consumers, with a goal of driv- ing more business to their dealerships.” To read more about Ally’s Connect4Content and to sign up, visit socialdealer.com/ally. SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT D >> CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE
  8. 8. 10 ❙ MAY 5, 2014 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT n February, a Holman Ford Maple Shade service tech- nician was doing a routine check to find the cause of a power steering glitch in a customer’s Ford Fusion. When he found that the problem was a lop-eared rab- bit that had chewed through the line — and was still snuggled in the car’s underbody — Holman’s social media team hopped on the story. The bunny’s photo and the ensuing search for its own- er were posted on the New Jersey dealership’s Facebook page, where fans ate up the story and shared it with their networks. “From the beginning, what intrigued us most about so- cial media was the opportunity to leverage that viral ca- pability. We have advocates in all of our stores, people who feed us stories and let us know what’s going on lo- cally,” says Jeremy Paolone, who as director of IT and re- tail strategy for Holman Automotive Group oversees digi- tal media for the company’s 16 dealerships. A six-person digital marketing staff maintains Hol- man’s corporate Web site, its presence on Internet re- view sites and a Facebook and Google+ presence for each of its Florida and New Jersey stores. The staff does this, all while working to “be vigilant about our digital presence on the Internet, making sure the information is clean — that addresses, names, phone numbers are all up-to- date,” Paolone says. “So many times old data persists out there. We want to make sure our online shoppers can find us easily, see why they should do business with us, and start the conversation.” Holman uses the HootSuite social media management system to keep content posted on multiple digital plat- forms. In addition to local items such as the bunny story, Holman relies on the automakers for content, as well as information from third-party sources such as auto maga- zines. Proprietary customer review and referral systems are crucial to Holman’s digital efforts. Each customer who buys a new car or uses the service department receives an e-mail asking for a review of his or her experience. Once the customer completes the review, he or she is asked to share it on sites such as Edmunds, Google+, Facebook and Yelp. Customers are also encouraged to sign up for Holman’s referral program. By clicking on a link, they can share their experiences with friends and family through Face- book, Twitter and Google+ and via e-mail. If a friend or family member comes in to buy a new car, the reviewer earns $100. Last year, Holman paid the $100 reward to nearly 2,000 customers who made referrals. “Now, some of those re- ferrals would have happened anyway through word of mouth,” Paolone says. But he points out that 70 percent of customers who join the referral program write a post to share with friends and family. Shoppers who visit a dealership on the recommendation of friends or family, he says, represent “the kind of business you want — not the price-shoppers but people who will be your repeat customers.” Paolone says Holman’s view is that “social media is defi- nitely important for consumers during any purchase con- sideration. We hope that by providing engaging content, showing our dedication to community and being avail- able, our followers will be more inclined to come back to us and recommend us to their friends and family.” D E A L E R P R O F I L E Rascally rabbit: A story that helped make Holman Ford the talk of the town I
  9. 9. MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 11 D E A L E R P R O F I L E How Facebook helps rural dealer reach consumers more effectively than TV SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT ike many parents, Robert Crotty started paying atten- tion to social media when he saw how his own kids were using them. Crotty, the co-owner of Crotty Chevrolet-Buick in rural Corry, Pa., noticed that his teenage son wasn’t watching TV. He was spending his time on YouTube, Facebook and other digital me- dia. Crotty decided to create a Facebook page for his dealership in 2010 and since then has ex- perimented with a YouTube channel, Google+ and Pinterest. He augments his Facebook page with paid ads. Crotty, a dealer in a small market, has a limited ad budget. “Facebook ads al- low me to put my message out without spending a lot of money,” he says. “I can’t compete with a bigger dealership by buying ads on a TV station 45 miles away; it’s a waste of my money because my message is trying to reach maybe 10 percent of that station’s market.” With Facebook ads, Crotty says, “I like the idea that we can use their demographics and target a specific group of people in a specific market.” Crotty does the majority of his Facebook posts in- house, although he also uses corporate and Chevy-spe- cific content provided by General Motors and another outside vendor. He says he tries “to have fun with it. If we have a sale go- ing on, we might hit that on Facebook for a week, but in between we are posting local information, fun posts. We want to be entertaining so that people don’t get annoyed when we pop up in their news feed.” He says 25 to 30 percent of the traffic to his dealership’s Web site is being generated by his Facebook presence. Does it sell cars and trucks? “I think it does, though I can’t necessarily put a number on it,” he says. “People walk in here and say, ‘You cracked me up the other day on Facebook,’ so I know I am keeping my name in front of people in a positive way. Or I’ll see that a person has liked things on our page a few times, and then I’ll see her in the dealer- ship. How else did she get here?” Crotty stresses the importance of being relevant to the local market. For instance, he says, “Facebook is big in my market, but we can’t really get a following on Google+ or Yelp; people out here just don’t use them.” Similarly, he found that his YouTube channel attracted viewers from around the world — not particularly useful in selling cars and trucks in Pennsylvania. He advises fellow dealers to figure out how they can ap- propriately use social media. “I would tell them that they are ignoring the market at the peril of someone like me coming in and picking off their customers,” he says. “You have to be in social media today.” L “ “Facebook ads allow me to put my message out without spending a lot of money.” Robert Crotty Robert Crotty, left, and John Crotty, co-owners of Crotty Chevrolet-Buick in Corry, Pa., use advertising tools on Facebook to target customers.
  10. 10. 12 ❙ MAY 5, 2014 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT D E A L E R P R O F I L E s part of its rebranding campaign, AutoNation Inc. early this year rolled out a corporate social media strategy across all its dealerships. “We have aligned our strategies across all of our digital media — including search, e-mail and social media,” says Christina Mandich, reputation and project manager for the na- tion’s largest auto retailer. AutoNation’s focus has been creating a consistent digital look for its more than 250 dealerships, with Facebook and Google+ pages and content. AutoNation decided to stick with just Facebook and Google+: “At a scalable national level we are new to the social media space, and we wanted to focus on the platforms that would provide the most benefit from an SEO [search engine optimization] and customer engagement perspective for us,” Mandich says. “Consumers do a lot of research online about where they are going to buy cars,” says Ryan Porter, director of content for AutoNation. “Reputation is important, and we are working hard to get great, transparent feedback for our dealerships. We also want to bring our dealerships to life with videos and in-store images. From a customer’s perspective, how does the dealership look online? If I am going to service my vehicle with you, do you have a waiting room I feel like sitting in?” Mandich agrees. “We have spent a lot of time and resources working on our reputation management pro- gram, and peer recommendations and endorsements about where to shop for a car is something we can take advantage of. Fan actions on social media — likes, comments, shares — are all expressions of consumer endorsement for a brand.” AutoNation’s corporate social media team is currently managing all the dealership Facebook pages, using some content from automakers but primarily content pro- duced in-house. For instance, AutoNation conducts approximately 120 vehicle test drives a year that provide great con- tent for posts. In addition, Porter says, the team has told its deal- ers to “keep your eyes peeled for remarkable things happening in our stores” — those mo- ments when the staff goes above and beyond the call of duty or the dealer- ship gets involved with the local community. In February, the com- pany conducted a two-week nationwide campaign invit- ing consumers to submit “selfies” — photos of themselves with their AutoNation vehicles — to Twitter, Facebook andInstagram.Participantshadachancetowinagasoline card or a grand prize trip to an IndyCar race. “It was one of our first big social media campaigns, and we got very good traction on it,” Mandich says. “Social media allows you to have so many touch points with such a broad group of consumers,” says Kim Costel- lo, corporate communications specialist. “From our per- spective, the more times you can have a positive interac- tion with these customers and potential customers, the better for your business.” AutoNation gets 250-plus stores on the same page A “ “We have aligned our strategies across all of our digital media — including search, e-mail and social media.” Christina Mandich
  11. 11. ❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙ CHECKLIST SOCIAL MEDIA MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 13SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT Reporter Julie Liesse compiled ideas from a variety of sources and experts in the automotive, marketing and social media worlds to help you keep your social media efforts on target — no matter how experienced your dealership is. You can tear this page out for future reference. If you are new to social media ■ Look from a potential customer’s view at how your dealership appears online, particularly Yelp and Google+. Google your dealership. Search for dealers in your area on Yelp. How does your dealership look? ■ Make sure your dealership Web site is up to date. Check contact information, photos and staff listings. ■ “Claim” your business on Yelp; make sure all business information is correct. Choose high-quality photos. http://biz.yelp.com/ ■ Create your dealership’s presence on Google+. www.google.com/+/business/ ■ Start a Facebook page. www.facebook.com/business/ ■ Join Twitter. Tweet your own messages but also retweet information from auto executives, brand experts, magazines, reviewers and car celebrities. https://business.twitter.com/ ■ Connect all your social media content back to your Web site. Add buttons on your Web site that send customers to your Facebook or Google+ page. ■ Display customer ratings on your Web site. ■ Post content that would be valuable to your customer or potential customer. Look for content that you can share — whether it’s from automakers, magazines and newspapers, auto supply companies or finance companies such as Ally. ■ Grow your audience by following and “liking” others on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. >> FOR BEGINNERS >> STEP UP YOUR GAME If you have some experience ■ Stay on top of your posts. If someone comments with a question, complaint or compliment, respond. ■ Encourage customers to review your dealership, share photos and comment on their experience. Promote the positive and work to solve the negative. ■ Measure your social media activity. Look at your previous posts and see how they’ve performed to guide your content strategy. Do images seem to get more engagement? Work to incorporate more images into your posts. Test posting at different times of the day with different kind of content to see what performs best. ■ Consider amplifying your social media presence by exploring social media advertising. ■ Boost engagement with a contest, sweepstakes or giveaway. Make it simple. ■ If you tried social media before and were disappointed, try it again. >> BECOME A MASTER If you’re a social media pro but want to expand your experience ■ Try a more visual platform, such as Pinterest or Instagram. For instance, if you have special, vintage or collector cars for sale, “pin” them on a special Pinterest board. ■ Consider a YouTube channel for your dealership; post videos of new arrivals, test drives, events at the dealership and more. ■ Shift into a higher gear by buying advertising on social platforms such as Facebook. Target a local audience, a specific demographic group or potential buyers based on the platform’s data. Even a small investment could potentially reach your target with surprising efficiency. Experts say it’s better to consistently advertise with a small budget over several months, rather than simply spend one time. ■ Use user-data analytics tools such as Facebook Insights (https://www.facebook.com/insights) and Twitter Analytics (https://analytics.twitter.com) to track how many people you’re reaching and how often they’re engaging with your social media accounts, plus their interests, locations and demographics.
  12. 12. PRACTICES...❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙❙ BEST ...for using social media in general ■ Always be authentic. Speak in a voice that your consumers will relate to. ■ Keep it short. Twitter imposes a 140 character limit, and while the others don’t have a character limit, it’s best to keep it simple. ■ Listen to what your customers are saying on social media and join the conversation. ■ Respond quickly to reviews and comments about your dealership. If it’s a negative comment, research the situation before responding. Use a bad review as an opportunity to improve and show how your dealership handles a customer’s problem. ■ Stay relevant to your community; remember that you are talking to your neighbors and friends. When you support local schools, teams or events, or when your employees are involved in the community, post about it! ■ Consider at least a small budget to advertise on Facebook to support your dealership’s presence — pay for visibility for the content you already are producing. ■ Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. ■ Remember that you are in it for the long haul, not the quick deal. Social media builds relationships. Every day you may plant a seed that ultimately leads to a sale. ...for setting up your social media channels ■ Don’t just leave social media to the intern; make sure your social media leader understands customer service and can make decisions for the dealership. ■ Devote time each week to maintaining your social media channels. Divide the work into small, manageable tasks. ■ Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Can customers use your social media pages to find the information they need about your dealership, including your inventory, store hours, location and contact information? Can they access this information on their mobile phones — when they are on the road and ready to visit your dealership? ...for producing and managing content ■ Plan your posts ahead of time and stick to a calendar. Make sure you refresh your content to keep it interesting. ■ Provide useful, relevant, timely and entertaining content and information. ■ Do you have a blog? Make sure you are promoting your blog posts on social media. ■ Carefully choose photos. Make sure the photos are high quality and show only images related to your business: your showroom, your staff, your service and waiting areas. Look for photos or information that show how your dealership is unique. Ensure you have the rights to use these photos and that people in the photos have given you permission to use them. ■ Re-post content from your manufacturer; a consistent brand message helps you sell cars. ■ Leverage available resources, including automaker content and social media training. Cross-pollinate. If you post a special offer or photo on Facebook, also make sure you use that content on your Web site and other social platforms. If you have a special offer or campaign on TV or via direct mail, make sure to reference it on your social platforms, too. ■ Measure the response you get from your social media efforts. Learn to use Facebook Insights or create your own tracking system (for instance, create a discount code only for Facebook fans). ■ Look for opportunities to ask your customers to post their photos and comments about your cars and your dealership. ■ Don’t just post content. Engage with your fans and customers, and reinforce their good feelings by commenting, “liking” and sharing their posts with others. ■ Ask your followers to share, repost or retweet your content with their own friends and family. 28% of all retweets happen because the tweet includes the words “please RT.” ■ Share positive reviews of your dealership sales and customer service teams to create advocates of your dealership. Keep your eyes peeled for those moments when salespeople and service team members are doing something remarkable for their customers or in the community; take a photo if possible and share it on your pages. ■ Although it’s OK to give your fans and followers special deals and offers, make sure also to offer content that is not just about selling. Social media is about connecting and engaging with a community. 14 ❙ MAY 5, 2014 SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT
  13. 13. Automakers can get dealers up to speed f you’re a dealer or manager who wants to rev up your social media efforts, automakers are eager to lend a hand. General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswa- gen, BMW and other automakers are sharing digital content and expertise, providing training and tips for dealers in the belief that social media help sell cars. GM’s online PR Showroom for dealers, for instance, of- fers tool kits that teach social media basics. Dealers and their staffs can access dozens of videos and Webinars ex- plaining how social platforms work, how to set up ac- counts and connect with consumers and how to use Face- book or Twitter for campaigns such as vehicle launches. “We are doing all the communications things we used to do, but on a bigger scale and on the Web,” says Mary Henige, GM’s di- rector of social media, digital communica- tions, research and reputation management. “Social media is another way to communi- cate, and you need to be there. And we are doing everything we can to make it easy for our dealers to be a part of it — because we have the same interest our dealers do: We want happy, loyal customers who come back to us again and again.” Alicia Jones, manager of Honda and Acura social media for American Honda Motor Co., says: “If you have a mar- keting mix without social media, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. The way people consume media today is vastly different from even a decade ago. More and more, social media is the way they spend their time and increasingly the place they form their opinions.” Web sites and social media are particularly important for automakers and dealers because “more of the car shopping process happens before the customer arrives at a dealership,” says Mark Aikman, social media lead at Mercedes-Benz USA. “Think of it this way: The dealership used to be the place where car buying research happened. But now that research is happening online, including visiting the automaker and dealer Web sites. Customers also are looking at a dealership’s social pres- ence for reassurance that this dealership does really care about their customers, that they care about doing a good job.” Mercedes-Benz offers dealers examples of what other dealerships have found suc- cessful, those dealerships’ results and checklists for every social platform. If a dealer has mastered one set of tools, it can move up to the next. “We outline for our dealers what’s good, better and best in terms of social media they can use,” Aikman says. “It’s our way of asking our dealers, ‘Where are you today and where do you need to go?’ “We have tried to extend every bit of information and learning we can to our dealer popula- tion — and our dealer body has done a great job getting into thesocialmediarace.” As automakers create photos, messages and videos for their brands’ Web sites and social media pages, the com- panies are working to share that material with their deal- ers. “In terms of content, a lot of the heavy lifting can be done by the OEMs,” says Raashee Erry, media and con- nections planning manager for Volkswagen of America. VW has a distribution model that automatically feeds content to its dealers. “Anything that is newsworthy for us, wepushthatouttoourdealers,”Errysays.“Theycanoptin to our system and without any effort on their part, our con- tent appears on their social media pages. “It’s a win-win,” she says. “We get our con- sistent brand message out to the local com- munity, and the dealer doesn’t have to rein- vent the wheel in maintaining his social me- dia pages.” Jones says Honda also is working to make it “easier and seamless” for dealers to take the manufacturer’s photos, stories and videos and share them on their own Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Web sites. Honda’s social media team shares best-practice ideas, and is reviewing social media management providers in an effort to help dealers who feel they can’t handle everything in-house. BMW of North America offers a variety of content for dealers to download and use on their Web sites and social media channels. In addition, the company has launched a programtoprovideitsdealerswithaccesstocertifiedsocial media and reputation management providers. “We have a lot of dealers who are asking us for advice on social media — some are just in need of content, oth- ers are looking for tools, while others are interested in hiring an outside company to help manage their day-to- day social media activities,” says Kate Alini, BMW’s social media and emerging technologies manager. “Our Certi- fied Social Media and Reputation Management Program provides dealers with various levels of support by best-in-class providers, so they can get the help they need. Then we’ll be able to push content to those certified providers, who can publish it across social platforms on the dealers’ behalf.” Says Aikman, “Dealers spending time in digital are all around finding higher results.” Erry agrees: “Social media creates percep- tions that help sell cars — and social me- dia can create or break a reputation. If someone is saying great things about you, you can amplify that — spread the word, and convert it to more traffic. If there is a negative perception about your business, you can start taking ac- tion to improve it. Either way, social media plays a big role in car buying today.” I Alicia Jones, American Honda Mark Aikman, Mercedes-Benz USA Raashee Erry, Volkswagen of America MAY 5, 2014 ❙ 15SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT
  14. 14. Ali Ahmed President and CEO, Atlantic Coast Auto Group ©2014 Ally Financial. All rights reserved. Great customer experiences aren’t just reserved for the dealership. That’s why we offer programs like the Ally Connect4Content, which offers dealers access to Ally’s relevant and engaging content designed to reach the ever-increasing number of adults who use social media. To sign up or learn more, please visit socialdealer.com/ally or ask your Ally Account Executive. Ali’s story ... “WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT, OUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVE IS TO CREATE GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES.”