I recently spoke about Social Media marketing at a dealership conference. The audience had lots of questions and there was this recurring theme that I hear a lot lately: What do we post on Social Media and how can we attract people to our profiles?
Many dealers (and other businesses) are jumping the gun here. Social Media, when done right, generates leads and sales but you better have your house in order before you venture out into the great unknown. It’s important to meet your customer where they are and interact with them (just like you’d do in real life) but if you’re not dressed for the occasion, don’t bother.
There’s this weird thing that happens with each of us when it comes to getting what we want. Everyone tries to find the shortcut and in many cases, that’s been the inspiration for many wonderful innovations. But the negative side of that need to get to the finish line first results in exposing vulnerabilities. Now that Facebook and Google are omni-present, the klieg light will show every flaw. Think before you hit send.
Even companies like Ford can make grave errors and they’ve been in the Social space for a while now. Ford and its ad agency issued apologies for a tasteless Ford Figo ad — in which former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi is shown with a bunch of gagged and crying women in the trunk of his car — that was never meant to see the light of day.
The creative team at Ford’s agency partner posted the ad on the Ads of the World website without approval. Even though the ad never ran in paid media, once something’s on the internet, the damage has been done.
Ford issued an apology for the ad to Business Insider: “We deeply regret this incident and agree with our agency partners that it should have never happened. The posters are contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency within Ford and our agency partners. Together with our partners, we are reviewing approval and oversight processes to help ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
It’s clear by the ad that there’s a deeper issue here with regard to culture. What kind of mind creates such an offensive piece of content and what the heck are they doing partnered with Ford? It’s good that debacles like this happen because it gives companies that chance to re-evaluate their choices.
There’s a local dealer here in Southern California who reached out to me because their online reputation is, shall we say, negative. A deeper look into the matter tells me it’s not the online part of their reputation that’s gone wrong. It’s their actual real life reputation in the community. Their processes are “old school” with little regard for the customer experience. That fact is reflected in their 300+ Yelp reviews.
A recent study from TrustBarometer showed that people (buyers) are more likely to trust employees of companies before they trust the CEO or management. Why? Because they view employees as “people like us”. When your culture is stuck in the old ways of management, customers and employees alike are getting the short end of the stick. And that used to be a secret only those directly involved with it were privy to. Today, it’s found on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yelp and an infinite amount of other places.
Maybe those businesses didn’t even realize they were losing sales. I see this nearly everyday. Dealers and managers discounting the value of Social marketing. They’ll never know all the missed opportunities that have crossed their path because they think Social is place where people go to show pictures of their kids. They miss the point that if people (buyers) are spending time somewhere, that’s where you need to market your message.
Others see the value of Social Media but aren’t willing to give it the attention (time, training, and budget) it requires. Everybody is now saying they’re ready to leverage Social but very few are truly ready.
It’s tempting to want to leverage Social Media to generate leads and sales. Check your culture and your processes first. Are they ready for primetime?