The majority of what I hear from car dealers and their employees on the subject of Twitter is: “I don’t get it!” They say, “I don’t understand why Twitter is so valuable. Isn’t it enough to be on Facebook?” As marketers, we have to communicate with the customer where they spend their time and many would-be customers are on Twitter.
Of the dealers that I see on Twitter, many of them are just broadcasting. Their strategy is to shout things out to the world where someone will hear it… and that’s a big mistake. Twitter is conversational. It’s person to person. It may be a brand that people follow but they want to know there’s a real person behind the brand. Any chance you have to be closer to the customer, to help them buy from you, is pretty awesome. Shouting marketing messages will not bring the customer closer.
In the past few weeks, I’ve had a few dealers reach out to me asking questions about Twitter. That tells me more are warming up to it and they’re ready to join the biggest conversation in the known world. Participating in these conversations establishes credibility and trust with customers. Once you have that, you can comfortably reach out to others in the community with marketing messages.
Establishing credibility and trust must happen first. There are many pitfalls that Twitter “noobies” can avoid once they have the lingo down. Twitter is like going to a foreign country: you have to learn the language in order to not look like a doofus. Twitter has it’s own language: @mentions, #hashtags, RT (Re-Tweets), shortened URL’s and, of course, fitting everything inside 140 characters.
The thing that keeps many dealers from using Twitter is the fear that they’ll “do it wrong”. Let me help by showing you what NOT to do. Here are 10 sure-fire ways to #fail on Twitter:
1. Chasing the Numbers. It’s much better to have 300 engaged followers than 3,000 who will never speak to you again. Use tools like Refollow and TweetAdder to help you find those you want to reach. Locate accounts whose customer is your customer and follow their followers. It grows organically and you capture a much more interested audience.
2. Only Tweeting a URL. If you’re sharing a story, you typically have something to say about it. At least include the headline of the story and give credit to the author. Only tweeting a URL looks like spam (because that’s what spammers do!) and no one will click on it.
3. Tweets longer than 140 characters. I can’t tell you how many posts I see that aren’t 140 characters. Some apps will allow you to post more that 140 but 140 is all your audience sees. Please oh please, use a URL shortener like Bitly.com. Tweet posts in less than 140 characters if you’d like them Re-Tweeted (we all do). You gotta leave room for the Re-Tweeters’ ID, right?.
4. Talking about Yourself. Posts like “Check out the new body style of our 2013 model” is not compelling enough for people to click on. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Focus your efforts and content on what’s interesting to your network.
5. Automating Facebook posts to Twitter (& vice versa). Twitter users recognize these posts when they see them and it feels like a robot talking. The same goes for people on Facebook. I’ve seen people get downright indignant. It’s okay to post similar content on Twitter and Facebook, just do it separately and “speak the language”.
6. Posing questions to “everyone”. Unlike Facebook, asking open-ended questions doesn’t work well on Twitter. A better strategy would be to follow someone you want to reach. If they follow you back, thank them and ask them a Social question like “How’s the weather in San Francisco today?” They may not answer but they’ll remember you were speaking to them and not the crowd.
7. Not conversing (@mentioning). Twitter is conversational. Mentioning people drives those conversations. Don’t broadcast tweets without interacting, sharing and mentioning other Tweeps.
8. Using Spam words like “win” & “free”. On Twitter, spammy words attract eyeballs for the wrong reasons. Save them for your ads. PS: If you use those words regularly, Twitter (or a follower) will mark you as Spam.
9. No gratitude. Spend time everyday to thank those that have Re-Tweeted your posts. Either reply or RT what they posted. Please and thank you are part of the Twitter lexicon.
10. No authenticity or transparency. People follow you because they want to get to know you. I have a dealer client who lets his personality shine. He’s named Tang as the “official drink” of the dealership and he has many conversations with folks on Twitter. Decide how you want to be known and keep your message clear and consistent.
Your Turn: What would you add to this list?