It’s true: Social Media is change. And change is not something we do well in the car business. We tend to stick to what works for us and that’s worked for us for 75 years. But the times they are a changin’. We can no longer buy people’s attention with traditional advertising. The buying public educates themselves online before they even step foot into the dealership. They already know the price they expect to pay and they’re looking for a dealership that’s got great credentials. They use Social Media to hear what others are saying about the dealership and they make their buying decisions based on those responses.
Social Media is not a new conversation, it’s just a new way of conversing. In traditional advertising, we talked without listening. There was a direct response from the consumer: they would go where you directed them to go whether it fit into their lifestyle or not. With Social Media, dealerships need to go to where their customers are and that has many resisting. Why? The fear that the consumer will suddenly have control (which when we consider buying power they always have). But the consumer will never have control of your brand as it is always your message. Here’s the fact: Social Media brings you quality leads and creates lasting sales relationships that make you money. Embracing the change let’s you tap into that:
1. Create One Message. Social Media is still advertising any way you look at it. You are representing your store and one focused message gets you noticed. Sure, you share other cool stuff that’s relevant to your audience but strategically-placed information and interaction about that stuff is still one message.
2. Learn to Listen. To successfully participate in Social Media, it’s essential that you take the time to listen to the conversation online. I like to use the ‘dinner party’ analogy. You wouldn’t walk into the middle of a dinner party and start shouting about the topics that only you want to discuss. You’d introduce yourself, listen to people and then join their conversations. The same holds true online and in Social Media.
3. Start Conversations. This seems difficult but it’s really quite simple. Providing a venue like a Blog or a Facebook fan page for people to engage in conversation is a great way to establish your store’s credibility; you’re perceived as helpful and benevolent, and this can significantly add to brand loyalty. Once the conversations start, engage. Don’t try to hide behind an anonymous post. Instead be very public about who you are and why you’re there.
4. Overcome Fear. The fear of posting is what prohibits dealerships from accepting change and embracing Social Media. Dealers and their managers say to me everyday that they know they need to be on Social Media but they themselves don’t use it. Jump in and test it out. The only way around it is through it.
5. Be Responsive. I can’t convey this enough. Interaction on your Social networking channels builds trust and loyalty with your followers/fans. Be present in conversations and respond thoughtfully and effectively. Your responses create positive word-of-mouth and that’s something no billboard could ever do for you.
Social Media is not a strategy. It’s a tool that’s part of your overall marketing plan. It’s a different means of advertising just like TV was when commercials hit the airwaves. Embracing change is more than finding time to be a part of something that you’re unsure of. It’s about overcoming the fear that leads to being responsive, but yet a leader, in creating the conversation.
How has your store embraced the change with Social Media?