Dealerships are jumping into Social Media and I’m excited. But who’s going to manage the beast? Back when the Internet was emerging, dealers or GM’s would assign someone in the store to handle it ‘in their spare time’. I was one of those. Today, dealers should be cautious using this same tactic for Social Media. As we found out with the Internet, Social Media is not a fad that will be gone in a few years. 75% of adult internet users are on Social Media (Nielsen, June 2010).
A few years ago, I was working at a Japanese high-line store and we took in a Porsche 911 on trade with the engine light on. We sent it through the Service Dept for Recon. They were able to get the engine light to go out (although I never knew exactly how) and we put the car on the front line for sale. A buyer came in that weekend and purchased the car. Two days later, it came back on a flat-bed. Why? The engine had seized because it had no oil. In an effort to save money on the Recon, we let our Japanese-trained technicians work on it. Had it gone to the Porsche dealer a few blocks away, we might have saved the car. Instead, we had to put a $10K engine in it.
Letting just anyone ‘do’ Social Media is risky business. Social Media is much more than setting up a Facebook page, uploading YouTube videos and broadcasting Tweets. Most dealerships set up a profile on Facebook and notice that there are many more things on the to-do list. Pretty soon, interest wanes because they find out it’s harder than it looks to create valuable content every day. Who then is best suited to handle the dealership’s online campaigns?
If you have employee that can free up the time and has the knowledge on how to use the Social Media tools, it might seem like an easy solution. So did sending the Porsche to our Service Dept. If you have an employee who knows how to use Facebook or Twitter, chances are they know how to use these tools for personal reasons. Engaging the online customer (Marketing), generating leads (Advertising) and building your store’s online reputation (Public Relations) is perhaps asking more of that employee than they are capable of.
Collaboration with a talented strategist is necessary to achieve your dealership’s goals with Social Media. Experts provide training and guidance to acclimate you and your staff to the process of engaging your online buyer. You’ll find that engaging a Social Media specialist not only costs less but it will quickly bring in leads you never knew existed.