The way dealers are going about hiring Social Media support today reminds me of how they used to hire accounting managers. If the person looked the part–which in most cases was someone with a downright mean disposition, a few extra pounds and a steely-eyed countenance that would scare even the most seasoned car guy–they got the job. They never really paid attention to how qualified the person was. Once hired, they continued that lack of attention until one day, thousands or even millions of dollars was unaccounted for. I can tell you this today because it was me who got hired to come in and “clean up after the elephants”. Oh the things I found! These owners were so convinced their accounting manager was doing the job and, meanwhile, $1 million or more was going out the back door!
Thank goodness things changed. After going through the fire and finding bodies buried inside the books, dealers and GM’s are now heavily involved with their accounting processes.
However, I’m seeing a disturbing trend lately. Some dealers are using the same old rationale in the hiring of individuals for Social Media. Like accounting functions, Social Media is not something the owner or the GM are frequent users of. They’d rather “sell cars and make money” than “waste time looking at Facebook”. It’s time now to become familiar with Social Media.
I had a request recently from someone who was just hired to manage a dealership’s Social Media and online reputation. This person is brand new to the car business and only knows Social Media as a personal user. That means they’re being asked to learn two very different jobs: how to sell cars to the Social customer and how to run marketing campaigns on Social Media platforms. How did the hiring manager know this person was right for the job? They didn’t.
Back when I was cleaning up after the elephants, I used to be able to track the money that was lost. In fact, I once found a vehicle contract on the books that was 18 months old (yes, I was able to get it funded). But Social Media is marketing, folks. It’s communicating your dealership’s unique brand, why people should buy from you, and generating leads.
Marketing is what happens before the numbers get onto the books. There’s no audit trail. Without a qualified, fully-trained individual handling your Social Media, you won’t be able to account for leads you didn’t spot or sales you lost. You’ll never know what you lost because you never saw it in the first place!
As we lead into 2012, it’s crucial that you pay attention to your Social customer. It’s okay to hire an intern or someone who applied for a sales job but you think “knows Social Media”. Just train them! Without training in automotive Social Media marketing, including online ratings sites, the odds are heavily weighted against you having a successful Social presence.
A dealer asked me the other day, “What can I do to learn more about Facebook?”. My advice: spend 10 minutes a day on Facebook. It’s the only way you’ll really know why everyone’s talking about it, why there are 800 million users and why people spend more time on Facebook than watch TV. In today’s marketing, we go where the customer is. We attract them, engage them and listen to them. We provide valuable information that influences them and we converse (network) with them to develop a relationship.
Don’t trust your future sales and good name to an amateur. Knowledge is power. Spend a portion of your 2012 budget on Social Media training or coaching. Spend time yourself on Social networks. Your bank account will thank you.