It's Social Media Revolution Not Evolution

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Last week in my workshop, I had an Internet Director named Mike who said something so profound I have to share it with you.  It’s the reason I love training and doing workshops: I always learn so much from the attendees that it gives me a new perspective on my business!  Mike had arrived early and he humbly said that although he was not completely up-to-speed on Social Media for his auto group, he believes in the power of Social Media for building sales relationships and generating leads.

What struck me about Mike is his thirst for Social Media knowledge.  Mike said: “Most dealers don’t understand that Social Media is a Revolution.  They’re moving at the speed of Evolution and they’ll be extinct if they don’t act now.” Genius.

Social Media has revolutionized how customers buy cars.  Dealers have tools now to broadcast their message, interact with their customer and foster a community like never before.  Social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare are tools that have amplified dealers’ ability to communicate their marketing message. What’s revolutionary is that when someone connects with your store on Social, they give you permission to market to them.  It’s the consumer’s choice to interact with you!

I was interviewed last Friday for a story in Advertising Age spotlighting Joel Ewanick, GM’s Global Marketing Chief, where he stated, “We understand that our direct competitors are Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Ford. But they are all talking about market shares and sales. It’s time to clearly differentiate our brand and align closer to a true global brand like Apple. It’s time for an automotive company to step out and address consumers and their needs in a way that’s never been done before”.

As a true car gal, I’m very encouraged by his statement and his vision.  Apple’s success lies in great product, great delivery and great design.  If GM can capture the feel-good emotion people have when buying an Apple product, they can succeed.  How can they connect with consumers in a way that’s never been done before?  By uniting appealing design, cutting-edge technology and an innovative Social marketing message.

There were a lot of naysayers to Mr. Ewanick’s remarks and understandably so.  Automotive companies are not known for their nimbleness.  Mr. Ewanick talked culture change and that’s never easy for the people that are part of the furniture to hear.  The negative pushback is par-for-the course because the car business is in a huge revolution right now.  There are a lot of people holding on for dear life to the old paradigm.

I see this on a smaller scale at dealerships I visit and I hear it from many dealership employees across the US on Social Media.  At least once a week I hear from a car salesperson who wants to jump in and run with the Social Media baton but their boss won’t budge on even the smallest marketing budget.  In time, and with visionaries like Joel Ewanick, the old thinking will give way…just like the dinosaurs.  The Social Media Revolution is happening whether you evolve with it or not.

Here’s the thing: Somebody’s got to step out and say something to awake the dinosaurs.  Joel Ewanick is a breath of fresh air.  Unfortunately, some people want to continue to breathe the smog.