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Auto Success Social Marketing Reputation Management 082709 V4

  1. 1. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia “A Blueprint for Dealer Implementation” Let Me Introduce Myself My name is Ralph Paglia, some of you may know me (hi ADM homies!), many of you do not… Basically, I have been selling cars for over 28 years and I started using digital marketing in 1986 by posting liner ads on defense contractor Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) while selling Volkswagens in San Diego. Car guys that have known me for awhile know that almost everything I have predicted over the years in regards to the Internet and selling cars has come to pass within the time frames I predicted. Here’s what I know is coming, without any hedging of my bets or wavering… Social Media is changing the way people get their information about stuff they are thinking about buying, moving their information sources further away from marketers (that would be YOU), and closer to the people that they relate to within their online communities. Social Networks, UGC sites and all that makes up what some people call Web 2.0 is a tsunami wave of impact that will make any influence the Internet has had on the car business the past few years look mild in comparison. Although I have implemented a variety of social media marketing and dealer rating and review programs throughout the USA over the past few years, this article is the first time I have published a clearly defined strategy and how to implement it at a dealership. I am including tactical implementation plans that you can use to prepare, plan and assign tasks to dealership employees. Before getting started, one word of caution… For many dealers, this type of Web 2.0 initiative will attract the attention of customer segments that your sales team may not normally have the opportunity to deal with. Because these customer segments contain consumers who have not been attracted to some brands of dealer showrooms in recent years, your team will need to develop several new skill sets and get used to communicating in new and different ways in order to successfully engage with them, and sell cars. A Commercial/Social Dual Website Strategy Starting with my work in the late 90’s around Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and while setting up Internet Sales Departments in hundreds of dealerships around the country, I began to see two distinctly different approaches to developing business opportunities for dealerships… With Internet Sales, the emphasis was on selling a car RIGHT NOW, or as soon as we could possibly get the prospect into the dealership. Our entire focus was to move the customer from Keyboard-to-Keyboard (email/web) communication, to Ear-to-Ear (phone) and then to Face- to-Face (showroom) as quickly as possible… And, when we got the prospect into the showroom, it was like the good old days, with turns, working the deal, ACV shenanigans and all the stuff so many of us love about the car business. And, which so many customers really do not enjoy (a few do). On the other hand, after we sold a car and we wanted to use our CRM technology to streamline communications, the whole strategy was different… We would handle the customers with kid gloves, do what we had to do to get them into our service department, get some referrals of friends and family, coach them on completing our CSI surveys from the OEM… Sometimes even bribing them for favorable reviews and referrals. This dichotomy, or as some would say “schizophrenic customer management” was something many of us referred to as being “Hunters” or being “Farmers” as we switched our approach back and forth. Then we started implementing Business Development Centers (BDC) on the basis of the people working in the BDC being “Farmers” and the sales people in the showroom being “Hunters”. One group grew relationships for future business opportunities, while the other killed everything in sight, either selling a car today or ensuring the customer would never dare return to the dealership. Over the past two years, I have come to the realization that an effective Social Marketing and Reputation Management (SM/RM) strategy is a lot more like a good CRM plan than like an advertising campaign… Although, advertising can and does certainly support your SM/RM implementation! Think of it like this; your Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy functions like many dealership BDC’s, with a focus on building relationships, connecting and communicating with past, present and future customers. Likewise, your dealership should have online assets, tools and web sites that are focused more on long term relationships and connections than on doing transactions today. Dealership Community Social Website Using a CRM type of relationship focus, I developed a Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy that would include the creation and utilization of a “Dealership Community” social network site designed to emphasize relationship building and ongoing communications. The platform I chose is ideal for communicating a lot of different topics that are mostly about lifestyle and social engagement. The “Community” platform was selected based on a need to provide a robust set of tools, applications and features that would basically create a social network similar to 1
  2. 2. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia a Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace website, but would belong to the dealership and would work and integrate seamlessly with whatever social media or networks are popular with the dealership’s customers today, and in the future. After my experience in growing the Automotive Digital marketing Professional Community at I knew the ideal social network website platform for creating a Dealership Community! Dealership Business Commercial Website Alternately, the dealership’s traditional “Commercial Website” is all about providing tools to customers who want to do business today… Pick a vehicle to buy from inventory, schedule a service appointment, complete an online credit application, request a price and payment quote, get directions to the dealership, etc. Of course, we would connect the two dealership sites together, but with all the community and relationship building objectives being handled by the dealership’s community site, the commercial website is freed to place the vast majority of its focus on transacting business in all the dealership’s departments. In many ways, this is a lot like the dealer microsite strategies that many people who have known me for awhile, have seen me refine and develop into the “one website is not enough” strategy that has propelled many dealership Internet sales into the triple digit volume levels. By having the “Commercial” website all about doing business, it becomes much more efficient, develops a better conversion rate and can be cleaner and less cluttered than if you tried to do BOTH Social Marketing and eCommerce within the same website design. After implementing this strategy of separate “Social Marketing” and “Commercial Transaction” focused websites, I am more convinced than ever that each is necessary and building them on completely different technology platforms is essential. Think of it this way… You can use that Ford SuperDuty 4x4 truck with dually rear wheels and the fifth wheel in the bed for hauling trailers full of quads to the mountains, or a trailer with a 7,500 pound boat to the lake… But, it is not the ideal vehicle for 20 miles of rush hour stop and go single person commuting to and from work every day. That’s what the 2010 Fusion Hybrid is for. Take a look at the Denver car dealership, Automotive Avenues, commercial website looks like at and check out the “Social Media” tab on the main menu bar (screenshot below). Yes, we are using the dealership’s commercial website to provide access to the dealership’s Social Marketing and Reputation Management sites, but the primary objective for the commercial website is doing business… Today. 2
  3. 3. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia Social Marketing and Reputation Management Action Plan In this article I have provided you with my recommended dealer action plan for a powerful Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy. Each of the items in this Action Plan is designed to prepare your dealership for a successful launch of your Social Marketing and Reputation Management program. While you should be building ongoing improvements in your dealership’s digital marketing operations, the incredible rate at which consumers have adopted social media and User Generated Content (UGC) sites means that the dealers who jump on this and get it right first, will seize a competitive advantage that dealers who are laggards in social media may have a hard time overcoming. So, ready or not, RIGHT NOW is the time to get started and the barriers to entry boil down to a credit card with about a $300 monthly limit, some time and a level of effort that is greater than updating monthly specials on your website, but less than trying to figure out how to implement a CRM application and the processes that support it… OK, quit twitching… I said LESS than a CRM implementation! Some of these “Digital Marketing” improvements include setting up social network accounts, profiles and fan pages, word of mouth marketing activities (think along the lines of public CSI), chat, forum, blog and onsite messaging communication processes, video downloads and uploads, photo uploads, using RSS feeds to pull in content, using outbound RSS feeds to distribute content, installing embedded content, including widgets, gadgets and videos. Scared yet? Don’t be… If you’re squeamish or too lazy to put forth the effort, you can always hire part time college students, or unemployed investment bankers for less than a decent lot attendant, but you better have a plan and a set of tasks that you want them to get done. And, without sounding too overtly promotional, you can always contact my team and we will do it for you… For a price, and we aren’t the lowest gross team in the business! Why should you pay attention to anything I write? In March 2009 several dealers I work with were contacted by a major public relations firm based in Washington, DC. Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Ogilvy) identified successful social media marketing dealers and harvested best practices from several dealerships rated as being ahead of others in their utilization of Social Media Marketing. The list of dealers selected by Ogilvy includes dealerships trained by myself and my team mates at ADP Digital Marketing on how to use social networks and Web 2.0 sites. Some of these “best in class” social media marketing dealers have utilized the strategies and processes I will be describing in this article. I am proud to point out that my team at ADP has supplied Social Media and Digital Marketing training to each of the dealers identified by Ogilvy with the following email message that was forwarded to me by Dave Tedder at Sanderson OEM in Glendale, AZ: “At the moment, a minority of dealers like yourself are using social media platforms (such as blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Ning networks) to promote their business, attract new customers, and communicate with existing ones.” My experience in the emerging and rapidly evolving areas of Social Media and Digital Marketing is not unique, there are many automotive consultants available who are getting into this area of strategies and processes, and although I have read several books that have come out in the past year about this “thing”, the social media segment, what it is, how it works and why some things work for car dealers and others do not is still evolving and taking shape. How Do I Get This Handled? In order to take advantage of what social media, UGC and Web 2.0 web based assets offer, you will need to assign resources to find, harvest and develop the sites, blogs, accounts, profiles, fan pages, tweets and other content represents your dealership’s products, services and describes what customers can expect from the shopping and buying experience at your store. There’s a lot at stake with this Internet powered revolution in the way consumers get information, and you need to DO SOMETHING! Basically, you have three ways to get your dealership in the game: 1. Do It Yourself = Lower Cost + More Work… Requires time commitment, set ups can seem daunting and require uninterrupted focus, daily process execution and content creation, but DIY for social media and reputation management is more doable than many other marketing projects and processes. 2. Get Professional Help = One Time Expense + Less Work Up Front… Faster Startup, set ups, account structure done quickly and typically better built, your SMM strategy designed, documented and initiated. 3. Outsource To Supplier = Recurring Expense + Least Work + Consistent Tactical Execution… Up front costs may be reduced by spreading over contract term, dealer may get more accountability, monthly reviews of measurement data with benchmark analysis, professional guidance, possibly better content and graphics, should get dealer better integration technology, widgets and customized HTML upgrades. 3
  4. 4. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia What’s the Scope? In several areas of the country, the most successful Dealers in 2009 are those that have embraced the emergence of social media and User (consumer) Generated Content (UGC) sites as a powerful source of connectivity with people, including dealership employees, suppliers, OEM associates and automotive consumers. I have guided several dealers, and built online UGC places for them where many customers spend a significant amount of time. We know that now, more than ever before it is critical that dealers learn how, or are provided access with solutions that create dealership social media sites and then use them properly to establish relationships with their customers. Working with dealers and car companies, we have learned how to get a steady stream of interesting content and use the right tools to provide desirable information that the consumer will seek out, rather than just promoting the latest deal, rebate or incentive on a car. I am recommending to the dealers I work with that they commit the financial and human resources needed to get their Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy in place before the end of 2009… Here’s an action plan that many of the more successful social media marketing dealers have already executed. Although building the online technology foundation starts with action item #4, the first 3 and #11 that follows are critically important to a successful implementation: 1. Create and distribute a Dealership Social Media Employee Policy that encourages employees to publish positive references to working and/or being a customer of the dealership… But, requires that all employees who either create or discover any mention of the dealership by name, must send the URL (link) to the web page to the dealership’s designated, easy to remember email address. i.e. If you want to see an example of a well written Dealership Social Media Policy for employees, there is one available for download at the ADM Professional Community at this Permalink. 2. Design and implement a robust and proven Reputation Management strategy with daily processes that result in the creation of positive consumer reviews on your dealership’s targeted dealer ratings site… Sold follow-up calls that ask completely satisfied customers to rate the dealership’s sales process or their service experience at an easy to remember URL, i.e. Alternately, you can ask your service reminder solution provider, such as ADP’s CustomerTouch DMS triggered sales and service marketing solution to create managed campaigns that drive customers to the dealership’s designated customer rating site. Just be sure to use a filtering process so that only satisfied customers are sent to the rating site! 3. Leverage customer reviews of dealership in a community site platform that makes it easy to syndicate ONLY the good reviews across multiple social networks, search engine listings, blogs and news sites. Use push syndication to drive positive consumer perception of the dealership’s reputation at a level that exceeds what competing dealers have achieved… Use a plan that automates web enabled “word of mouth on steroids”. A couple of great examples showing Dealership Communities featuring their reviews are: , and 4. Set Up Dealership Profiles and User Accounts with Leading UGC sites and Social Networks a) Google 1. Start by creating a dealership account; i.e. and make sure you use a dealership “alternate email” address. The Gmail account for the dealership will be the master account for a lot of stuff… So, don’t forget the password! (put into account log) 2. Using your dealership Gmail account:  set up your dealership’s YouTube Channel with links to community  set up Google Analytics for tracking community site activity  set up Google Webmaster, generate HTML tag for community site  set up Google AdSense, generate HTML code for community site  set up Google Adwords, first campaign targets your community site!  set up Google Maps Business Listing with complete profile and coupons  set up dealership Blogger site, embed community content syndication 3. In Google AdSense – set up advertiser filters to block competing dealers (attract OEM ads) 4. Adwords Geotargeted Placements – invite auto enthusiast site members to join your community 5. Adwords Geotargeted Placements – put promo offers to join community on auto shopping sites 4
  5. 5. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia 6. Examples: , b) Yahoo! 7. Create dealership Yahoo! email account; pay for pro upgrade, set up POP3 8. Use Yahoo Site Explorer to track syndication back-links to community site 9. Setup dealership account in Yahoo Groups, use community content syndication 10. Setup dealership account at list as “Car Buying” expert 11. Setup “Pro” account at using Yahoo! Email account ($99/year) c) Ning 12. Setup brand focused dealership community site with optional services:  Use your URL; i.e.  Go Ad Free; Insert your own Google AdSense code into Ad hosting tool  Remove Ning Promotional Links 13. Social media syndication of dealer and consumer generated content 14. Online Forums used by consumers, suppliers and dealers to interact with each other 15. Customers, suppliers and employees get web site with CMS and SEO tools 16. Blog application indexed and top ranked by Google 17. Integrated Social Media syndication includes:       18. Examples of Dealer Community sites that use the Ning platform:          d) 19. Setup/get dealership annual certification 20. Acquire/redirect easy to remember URL to your review page: i.e. 21. Contact all those employee friends and family members who got big discounts with the promise to send the store referrals and give them the short-cut URL to go directly to your DealerRater review and ratings page… Time for them to repay all that special treatment you gave them! 22. DealerRater reviews are indexed and included in Google Maps and Business Listings 23. Dealer Certification provides dealers with Consumer Generated Content tools 24. Certification allows dealers to engage unhappy consumers before they blog about it 25. Dealers can use DealerRater “widget” to embed automatically updated customer review feeds, engage satisfied sold customers with prospective new customers within the online community 26. Social media syndication tools that integrate with Ning, Facebook, MySpace and others 27. DealerRater to Dealer Community site syndication examples:    e) Facebook 28. Setup dealership “fan” page business profile 29. Add links to the dealership’s community site and commercial sites 30. Add videos from clips hosted within the dealership community site 31. Add photo slide shows from the dealer’s community site 5
  6. 6. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia 32. See Dealer Facebook Fan pages at , f) Twitter 33. Create 4 dealer accounts at; Community, New Cars, Used Cars, Service and Parts 34. Syndicate “Latest Activity” RSS feed into Dealer Community Twitter accounts 35. Syndicate multiple “Model News” RSS feeds from OEM into New Cars twitter feed 36. Syndicate multiple “Used Car” RSS feeds from online sources into Used Cars Twitter account 37. Syndicate multiple OEM supplied parts and service RSS feeds into S&P Twitter account 38. See Dealer Examples at: , , g) MySpace 39. Create MySpace profile using dealership name i.e. 40. Acquire and reassign designated URL for MySpace profile i.e. 41. Syndicate RSS feeds from Dealer Community to MySpace Blog h) Flickr 42. Setup dealership’s photo and blog account, upgrade to Professional version for a year (see B) 43. Acquire Flickr application API key code and install in your Dealership Community account 44. Syndicate Photo Slide Show from Flickr into your Dealer Community site i) Digg 45. Setup dealership’s account using same Gmail address and password as Dealership Community 46. Syndicate an article from your Dealer Community site to make sure it works j) Delicious 47. Setup dealership’s account using same Gmail address and password as Dealership Community 48. Syndicate an article from your Dealer Community site to make sure it works 5. After getting your dealership’s Web 2.0 community website in place, learn to use the content management tools, attend my Synergy Sessions 2009 workshop. Define and assign the daily tasks that will get your community’s content created and syndicated out to social media, generating traffic and valuable back-links. Look at , , and for “Best in Class” examples of Dealership Community sites. 6. Build social networking connections with existing customers while using weekly meetings to motivate and engage dealership employees from every department with practical guidance and rewards. Issue payroll flyers on how employees can link their personal profiles in the dealership’s community to social networks. 7. Coach sales people on how to use their own “Hub and Spoke” strategy that leverages their account in the dealership’s online community to efficiently share specials, incentives, new inventory, model intros and stories about their customers across multiple social networks… Emphasize that “Stories Sell Cars!” and the dealership’s online community provides them with a way to tell a story once and have it read many times. 8. Assess your internet sales or BDC operations and the team’s ability to engage customers using multiple social media channels, while managing the conversation and relationship all the way through to a face to face meeting at the dealership. Do they know when (and when not), to shift from relationship building conversation to a sales focused process that adapts to the way each customer prefers to buy a car? 9. Determine and deliver the appropriate training, coaching and supervision needed based on #8. 10. Attend my workshop at the Synergy Sessions 2009 to learn more about daily management of Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategies and tactics. Then, go back to dealership and teach your associates how to quickly and easily execute the tasks necessary to make their time spent on social media sites efficient, productive and more successful. Continuously reinforce strategy to leverage your dealer’s human capital by driving social marketing behaviors to become part of your dealership’s culture. Hub and Spoke Social Media Marketing Strategy Working with my team at ADP Digital Marketing, we have pioneered the use of OEM provided “Social Media Press Releases” (SMPR) within dealership sponsored and managed online social communities. These web sites are the key to the “Dealership Community” concept and practice that I have developed and implemented utilizing a licensed 6
  7. 7. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia variation of the Ning social network creation platform originally developed and launched in 2007 by Mark Andreeson, the founder of Netscape Navigator in the 1990’s. Using these Dealership Communities as the central point where the dealership focuses attention on creating and displaying content is why I refer to these community sites as “The Hub” for distributing customer engaging videos, photos, articles, reviews, ratings and other goodies. However, it is important to mention that a successful implementation of this “Hub and Spoke” dealer community strategy requires an active presence of dealership employees, suppliers, OEM field staff, and vehicle owners attracted to the community through a concerted and ongoing campaign based on a steady stream of video media, articles, images and documents flowing out from the dealer’s community site (The Hub) along automated syndication channels that feed into a wide variety of social networking, user generated content (UGC) and web 2.0 type sites (spokes). This strategy of asset distribution allows dealers to leverage resources supplied by OEMs (such as the SMPRs, YouTube videos and Flickr slide shows), content generated by vehicle owners, dealership employees, suppliers and other community members to be leveraged in a social network distribution schema that attracts targeted customer segments by supplying an ever increasing membership base within the dealer’s community. I believe that this ever- expanding viral marketing loop could become a powerful marketing force if dealers take the initiative to connect with the “Automotive Influencers” in their local markets. Using Digital Advertising to Support Social Media Marketing The most successful “Hub and Spoke” Social Marketing and Reputation Management dealers will also feature their communities in online advertising. For example, at ADP Digital Marketing we have created and launched several campaigns where display advertising within Facebook features the dealer’s logo and the Facebook logo in the same advertisement and invites Facebook members to become a “Fan” of the dealership by visiting the dealer’s Facebook Fan Page. We build each dealer’s Facebook Fan Page to be a gateway to the Dealership Community site with links, videos, photo slide shows and other content which is actually hosted on the Dealership Community site but appears within Facebook courtesy of the syndication integration that we set up from the Dealership Community site. We also use geotargeting and demographic filters to limit the ads to appearing ONLY in front of local Facebook users in the dealer’s community that meet our age and employment segment targets for each ad… We have targeted Facebook campaigns to employees of specific companies that are the larger employers in the dealer’s community, when the numbers look like a good segment to target. Likewise, we have had phenomenal success with display advertising campaigns on which focus on driving traffic to specific video content hosted within the dealership community site… Using the dealership’s YouTube Channel, we are able to create and leverage links from YouTube to not only the Dealership Community main page, but to specific links for access to “the complete” video clip. YouTube has been one of our greatest resources for driving Dealership Community traffic. Before anyone thinks that MySpace is the “has been” of social networks, keep in mind that the MySpace community continues to grow every month, and although not growing as fast as Facebook has in the past year, I have found lots of great Social Marketing and Reputation Management resources within MySpace. Many of the advertising campaigns I have run with display ads inside of featuring the dealership’s name, logo and the MySpace logo are designed to drive “friends” for the dealership’s MySpace profile… This, of course results in the dealership’s friends getting special offers which require joining the Dealership Community in order to validate. Internal Campaign Prior to Public Launch One of the most important aspects of putting together a successful dealership Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy and implementation is the way the dealership leverages the employees and suppliers. Before getting too far ahead of yourself by inviting customers to join the centrally featured Dealership Community site, you must get as many employees to join the community as possible. In fact, before inviting the first dealership customer to the community, it is advisable to set aside a 30 day major internal campaign to drive employees, and likewise their friends and relatives to join and participate in the community… How could that possibly happen? Well, first of all do not underestimate how popular social networks and online communities are at this time, and their popularity continues to grow. Secondly, since the participation of employees is incredibly valuable and powerful within the strategic objectives of any Social Marketing plan, you must approach this with some skin in the game. I recommend the following action items. 11. Social Marketing/Reputation Management Employee Meetings: a. Inform the dealership employees about the overall Social Media launch strategy  ½ hour meetings (each) with sales, fixed and management teams b. Define the role that they play as pioneers in this new marketing strategy 7
  8. 8. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia c. Relay the expectations for support and understanding of the strategy’s next steps including involvement in the campaign’s themselves such as becoming an “friends” with customers d. Celebrate the evolution of the dealership’s new Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy e. Provide an opportunity for Q&A from other employees as well as explore and answer FAQ’s f. Hands-on demo of the Social Media components – Projector to showcase Dealership Community g. Primary Audience: Identify key stakeholder for each department, the Social Marketing Champion h. Timeline: Get everything set up before the dealership launch meetings, and then set a goal of 50% employee enrollment in the dealership community site within the first 30 days i. Cost: let the employees know the dealer is serious by announcing spiffs and bonuses at the launch meetings with the dealership employees:  $250 = Employee who successfully invites the most new dealer community members in 30 days  $150 = Employee who successfully invites 2nd most new dealer community members in 30 days  $100 = Employee who successfully invites 3rd most new dealer community members in 30 days  $150 = Employee who gets most “friends” to their community profile in 30 days  $250 = Employee who gets most views of their videos uploaded to community in 30 days  $250 = Employee who gets most “favorites” tags on their community photos in 30 days  $250 = Employee who gets most “comments” on their community forum discussions in 30 days  $250 = Employee who gets most “comments” on their community blog posts in 30 days  $250 = Salesperson who generates the most DealerRater Reviews from their customers (month)  $100 = Salesperson who generates 2nd most DealerRater Reviews from their customers (month) With a $2,000 budget for employee bonuses rewarding participation in your Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy, the dealership is both setting the stage for success, and letting everyone know that this is a serious marketing strategy with a level of expectations being set for all employees. Social Marketing is more about people than it is about spending a lot of money… It makes sense that the people who are employed by the dealership are the store’s single greatest asset in a social marketing strategy. Likewise, employees who contribute effectively towards a successful social marketing strategy should be recognized and rewarded. Value Proposition to Dealers: 1. Leverage the overwhelming growth in consumer use of Social Networks and User Generated Content (Web 2.0) to develop your Social Marketing and Reputation Management Strategy that utilizes “Positive Word of Mouth” amplified with the power of the Internet to enhance your good reputation, create top of mind awareness and elevate your dealership’s brand in a more cost effective manner than either CRM or advertising alone. 2. Dealers can tap into consumer adoption of Social Networking and User Content Creation by creating their own online community of customers, employees and suppliers filled with high quality content such as Videos, Photos, the latest reviews and road tests, interviews and articles supplied by OEM, enthusiast publications, dealership employees and consumers. 3. Build a dealership sponsored online community using powerful social networking platform technology to make it easy and fun for employees and customers to participate… Using a combination of OEM supplied feeds and enthusiast publications, incorporate highly desirable content which is automatically updated several times daily to create an engaging and rich experience for people in the dealer’s local market area. Publish blogs, forum discussions, photos and videos that will stimulate dealership community members to respond and create their own content, inviting and triggering others to join in! 4. Build and deploy a comprehensive syndication strategy that uses Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and embedded HTML code (Widgets) built into your dealership sponsored community to push content and member activities out to the most popular sites on the web. 5. Dealerships can achieve a highly positive presence within today’s most popular sites where customers spend hours and hours of their online time. Robust content syndication across multiple social media sites will grab people’s attention and pull them into the dealer’s online community. Use these online community syndication powers to connect with millions of people using sites such as:  Facebook  Twitter  MySpace  LinkedIn  Flickr  Digg 8
  9. 9. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia  Blogger  YouTube  Wordpress  Typepad  Ning  Delicious It Is Not As Difficult or Confusing as Many Believe Many dealers currently see the online Social Media landscape as a bewildering array of brands and sites! But with a little bit of guidance dealers can get it done on their own… Sometimes, a little professional help might be in order. For other dealers, outsourcing the work makes sense. Each dealer can develop and deliver a Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy by organizing social media into categories based on how automotive consumers use them, such as the following: 1. Social Networks 2. Professional Networks 3. Video Hosting Sites 4. Photo Hosting Sites 5. DIY Publishing (Blogs) 6. Consumer Reviews & Ratings 7. SMS, Status & Bookmarking 8. Social Network Platform Tools Social Media and Reputation Management Solution Components by Category The best dealers will develop a portfolio of User Generated Content (UGC) accounts and profiles used to create a network of social media sites, all connected with various degrees of syndication and integration with the dealer’s own online community. If you can’t figure out how to get it done… Or simply see this as being too much like real work, you can always hire a consultant or use my ADP Digital Marketing team to connect and manages components that deliver turn-key Social Marketing/Reputation Management… Creating a network of connected Social Media, UGC and Web 2.0 sites that use push-pull syndication to collect and redistribute OEM supplied and User Generated Content assets. This solution allows dealers to leverage their OEM feeds, assets and customer created content in a way that does most of the work needed to keep the dealer’s community relevant! 9
  10. 10. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia Social Media and Reputation Management Cost Projections 1. Ning Social Network Platform - $100 per month 2. DealerRater - $100 per month 3. Network Solutions URL Registration and DNS Hosting - $20 per month 4. Facebook Business Profile and Advertising - $250 per month 5. Video Syndication Services - $100 per month 6. BMI commercial music fair use licensing - $20 per month 7. OEM Contest and Incentives iFrame web service - $100 per month 8. Dealer Community Member Rewards Program - $250 per month 9. Flickr - $10 a month The external supplier list above results in a $950 monthly cost total for outsourced components within our proposed Social Media and Reputation Management solution. Dealership internal resources that will need to be applied to the implementation of this Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy will be approximately the following hours for setup and ongoing maintenance: 10. 32 (sixteen) Hours Initial Setup Labor (4 days of full time ISM/Marketing resources) 11. 2 (two) Hours Daily Maintenance (recommend ISM level, but could be a receptionist with training) 12. 2 (two) Hours of Data Assembly into monthly Dealership SM/RM Reports 13. 1 (one) Hour preparation for Monthly Review meeting (ISM level resource) 14. 1 (one) Hour Monthly Review meeting with dealer and managers The following series of images are screen captures from online Dealership Communities that I have set up for several dealers starting in early 2008 as part of the in-dealership delivery of Social Marketing and Reputation Management training and process implementations… 10
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  15. 15. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia Shown below is an example of the social media, blog and “friend” network content syndication capabilities within the Ning Social Network website platform: 15
  16. 16. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia Shown below is a screen capture of one of the Rich Ford of Albuquerque, NM Twitter accounts… Notice the customized page background, which is a Twitter “Best Practice”: 16
  17. 17. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia Social Marketing and Reputation Management Campaign Assets a. The dealership community is the “Hub” of the “Hub and Spoke” Social Marketing and Reputation Management strategy I have implemented in over a dozen dealerships nationwide. It is important to create and use marketing assets for recruiting employees (first), suppliers (second) and customers (last) for membership in your online dealer community. As a case study, be sure to check out the Denver dealership community at: b. Twitter can be a valuable tool for communicating a variety of short messages (tweets) to the “followers” of your Twitter accounts. As shown in the setup action list, you should have more than one Twitter account to ensure relevant tweets and a high desirability for people to follow, based on a specific dealership area of interest. As a case in point, be sure to check out the Used Car Sales Twitter account (go ahead and follow it) at . Shown below is just one of several assets used in recruiting “followers” for the Automotive Avenues Used Car Twitter account: Follow us at: c. The Denver based Automotive Avenues Facebook business account is a good example of community asset syndication for Social Networking that attracts Denver area car buyers using content syndication and consumer engagement tactics at: Become a fan at d. Denver based Automotive Avenues has a YouTube Dealer Channel to complement the video hosting hub in their community site. Go ahead and check out and you will see that their YouTube channel is intended to be a portal driving traffic to their community site. It is important that dealers designate a resource to keep a steady stream of relevant automotive video content uploaded to both YouTube and the Dealership Community. DO NOT use YouTube embedding to syndicate videos! Use your Dealership Community’s higher quality video server to distribute your videos to other sites with HTML embedded widgets. Do be sure to ALWAYS post videos, whether embedded or by file upload with appropriate text descriptions that provide Video SEO benefits to your dealership’s Social Marketing and Reputation Management program. Shown below is one of several creative assets used to promote the Automotive Avenues YouTube Channel at: 17
  18. 18. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia Subscribe to Our Channel at: Help Car Buyers Find Your Dealership Videos Make sure your videos have good metadata -- a descriptive title, keyword enriched content descriptions, the right categories, and keyword tags -- which help them get discovered on YouTube. The Automotive Avenues marketing team, headed up by Candace Taylor, has access to fine-tune both their YouTube channel at, and the video metadata on each video’s own “SEO Power Page” at . Better Video Quality Generally speaking, the video hosting application within your dealership community will generate better quality and resolution. However, you should learn how to improve the quality of your YouTube hosted videos using settings, formats and HQ (high quality) in your dealership’s YouTube Channel. Promote Your Dealership’s Videos Leverage your marketing budgets by actively promoting videos to prospective customers who have submitted leads by emailing links to videos of the vehicles they expressed interest in. Uploaded vehicle videos to both your Dealership Community site and your YouTube Chanel, then use the community site’s syndication feature to distribute it through the top social networking, UGC and Web 2.0 sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, Delicious and others. Use a portion of your advertising budget and the YouTube Promoted Video system to purchase paid placements on high-traffic pages inside YouTube. With Google Adwords, you can place advertisements that link to your community video clips alongside YouTube Videos by vehicle make, body style and other targeted pages based on content within the YouTube video. Heck, if they like checking out Ford F-150 video clips and you are a Ford dealer, then why not invite them to take a look at your dealership’s videos of trucks and all the ways your store tricks them out? Make sure your YouTube channel reflects current dealership communication strategies and advertising campaigns, just like the videos do, by customizing the dealership’s YouTube channel with links to current incentives, special offers, events, customer ratings of the dealership and anything else that might prove interesting. Understand Your Video's Views Metrics, metrics and more metrics… Yes, you have installed Google Analytics on your community site, but you will need to use your YouTube Insight metrics reports; which gives you information about who's watching your dealership’s YouTube videos and where they're from. You will soon see that most of your YouTube viewers are from outside your market, but the few that are in your market are prime candidates to join your Dealership Community. The YouTube Insight information can be used to better tailor your Dealer Channel videos for the local audience; that might mean using annotations to add subtitles so customers in Wyoming can understand the deals and vehicles being described, or getting a detailed breakdown of Denver zip codes where customers are coming from when they get to What’s the pay off? A competitive advantage and position in your market relative to other dealers… Make no mistake, there are many dealers around you who will use Social Marketing and Reputation Management to conquest business from you and then keep those customers so that you are unlikely to get another shot at their business in the future. This is worse than competitive advertising, the dealers who get their social media strategy right, will become the dominant dealers in most American markets over the next 24 to 48 months. The worst thing about Social Marketing and Reputation Management is that it takes from 6 months to a year to produce significant results… The second best thing about it is that when you get this system going, it will take even longer for your competition to catch up with you because you have a head start and a dominant position in the space, effectively creating some barriers to entry for the competition, who may never know what hit them! What’s the best thing about a properly set up and managed Social Marketing and Reputation Management 18
  19. 19. Social Marketing and Reputation Management for Dealers Written by Ralph Paglia strategy? When your community members and dealership’s social network of fans, friends and subscribers come in to buy a car or truck, chances are that the pressure on gross profit margins will be reduced… After all, every dealership I have ever worked in, the gross on repeat and referral business was always good! When You Need More Information When you need help or simply want to ask questions about videos, try posting a forum question on , or contact an ADP Virtual Marketing Representative (VMR) or your Digital Advertising Analyst. At the ADM Professional Community, you access to other YouTube dealership users, or you can try the YouTube Help Forum as well. If you are a dealer, manager or any digital marketing professional working in a dealership, you can always contact me directly at or simply reach out to the professional community that I created which now has over 2,700 automotive professionals as members, with over 10,000 unique visitors each month from dealerships across the USA… . You will see that I am a car guy who practices what he preaches! 19