The excitement of 2012 is upon us. We’re all taking stock in what we’ve done right and reevaluating the choices we made that didn’t achieve the outcomes we expected. It’s a time to plan, a time to set ourselves up for a successful year ahead. There’s a unified call-to-action coming from consumers that should be driving your 2012 marketing plan: Help us know you better! Integrating the principals of Social business into your marketing plan will not only help your customer know you better, it will generate sales.
There is a revolution happening across the globe and in all facets of the traditional business model. The Social customer is forcing dealers to operationalize Social Media internally in an effort to be more human externally. Social Media enables customers to voice their opinions online on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and many other channels. They talk about the products and services they use everyday and these customers are influential. We are all influential within our individual networks. What we say matters and influences others’ decisions.
It’s no longer a question of IF dealers should be on Social Media. The question is HOW to best carry out a winning strategy that generates results. Social business is the new paradigm. Employees at every level, starting at the very top, need to embrace new technologies and shift their focus from “selling” to building relationships. You and your staff spend 50-70+ hours a week selling and servicing vehicles. It’s difficult to decipher what the best Social business practices are and to know what tactics to avoid.
Here are 6 Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate Social business in 2012:
Do Grow Your Own Social Media Manager. Just because someone is under 30 and they use Facebook for personal reasons does NOT make them an dealership Social marketer. Marketing is still marketing, it’s only the medium that’s changed. There’s a specific set of guidelines and best practices in Social marketing that achieve your desired results. You can’t leave your brand to just anyone so if your candidate has no Social marketing and branding experience, set a budget now for training them in 2012.
Do Know that Influence is The Name of The Game. Dealers really do care about their community and in 2012, that means meeting the demands of the Social customer. These customers (and employees) are influential within their own networks and, in some cases, have large audiences. Engaging influencers boosts everyone’s online reputation.
Do Let Your Personality Shine Through. Mark Zukerberg’s goal is an open and connected world and folks, that’s where we’re headed. What is it about your store that is unique? What experience do you deliver that no one else can? I have a client, a car dealer, who’s just awesome on Twitter. Why? Because he’s letting his engaging personality and great sense of humor shine through. It’s time to adopt new tools and technologies to communicate your store’s personality more effectively.
Don’t Treat Social Media As a Necessary Evil. It’s here and it’s not a fad. People no longer buy what you sell…they buy WHO YOU ARE. Your customers are talking about you and you must participate in the conversation. If you don’t, someone else (your competitor) will. Embrace Social business, you’re customer is waiting to hear from you!
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Your Online Community. Just like in your real-life community, you must take steps and make a concerted effort to foster relationships within your online community. Social Media allows you to build an online community around your store by engaging members in day-to-day conversations. It’s long been known that community members typically buy from other community members. Engage your community and construct a referral network so they’ll keep you top-of-mind during any purchase decision process.
Don’t Let The Few Tell Your Story. Everyday I see really great dealerships being assassinated by online reviews. It’s a fact that these few customers who’ve had a negative experience want to annihilate you. But for every dissatisfied customer there are 100+ that could be encouraged to tell their story. You deliver a 5-star experience in real life. Why should your online reviews say something else? It’s just a matter of conveying the true story on the ratings sites. BE PROACTIVE–institute an internal process for capturing reviews. Hire a specialist in online reputation to train your staff in recognizing the optimal situations. Your business is based on referrals. Turn your customers into Brand Advocates.
Let’s make 2012 the year when dealerships embrace Social business. You can’t wait for the OEMs to wake up and support you. They are large, nearly immobile behemoths that seem to be stuck in 1998. There are specific strategies using Facebook and other platforms that will generate leads for your store. You can turn visitors into fans and fans into super-fans, it’s all in the development of a winning Social marketing strategy. Don’t waste anymore time waiting to see what happens. Supply yourself and your team with the tools you need to win at Social business.