Tips and Tools for Managing Automotive Social Media
September 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
One of the biggest challenges for businesses entering into Web 2.0 and using social media to promote their products is finding the time to do it all. Every site has a different interface, a different user-base, and different ways they can be used to enhance your marketing.
Below, you will find tools to help you keep up with sites like Twitter and Facebook, the two most powerful social networks when it comes to the car business right now. First, let’s take a look at how to use these sites.
They are not feeds. They are not Google. They are not craigslist or AutoTrader.com. Twitter and Facebook are not places for you to post your inventory or specials. Think of them more like dinner parties.
When you go to a dinner party, you walk in and are probably a little uncomfortable at first. You may know some people there, but there are plenty of new faces. You don’t walk up to a stranger and say, “I just got a 2004 Ford Focus in trade. You should check it out!”
Chances are you will make small talk, get to know people, say interesting things, and have a chance of someone asking you, “So, I noticed your shirt has a Honda logo on it. Do you work at a dealership? I ask because I’m in the market for a vehicle right now.” Bingo.
Twitter and Facebook work in much the same way. If you dive in and constantly post links to specials, people will not talk to you even if they are looking for a vehicle. The type of marketing that is successful on social networks has to do with engagement and conversation. The “straight-to-selling” technique fails miserably. Be interesting. Talk about the automotive industry in general. Link to interesting stories that are happening to your brands. If all you do is sell, you won’t sell a thing.
With that said, here are a handful of Web sites and downloads that can help make your social networking experience as efficient as possible. While there are many who spend hours on these sites, our objective as automotive professionals is to accomplish our business goals as quickly as possible.
Ping.fm – This site will allow you to post to multiple social networks at one time. While there is definitely diversity among the different social networks, having a tool that posts to all at once can be very effective.
Tweetdeck.com – As an Adobe Air application, it is one that you must download and run from your computer. It ties in to Twitter and Facebook and makes interacting with other users much easier than trying to work them from the individual Web sites.
Hootsuite.com – This is a great free tool for Twitter, especially if you have more than one account and/or if more than one person will be running the Twitter accounts simultaneously.
Twitter.com/optmeout – This account is used by many services to allow users to opt out of annoying automated direct messages. Follow the instructions; it’s basically a spam filter for Twitter.
Bit.ly – This URL shortener is effective for taking long URLs and shortening them to fit into Twitter and other social networks. If someone is interested in a particular vehicle, normally the URL for that vehicle is long. Bit.ly shrinks it down for you.
Twitbacks.com – Customize your Twitter background for free with this easy-to-use Web site.
Twellow.com – This Twitter directory lets you find people locally or based upon interest.
Wefollow.com/twitter/automotive – Interested in getting help from the experts? Those who are tagged on Wefollow as automotive already have an understanding of Twitter and can help you to accomplish your goals.
Note: All of these tools can be found on AutoDealerPeople.com on this page: http://bit.ly/dealertools
Post often, but don’t spam. Some tutorials are recommending posting once per week. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You should be posting to Facebook and Twitter every day, potentially multiple times per day.
Reply to those talking to you. One of the biggest mistakes I see on Facebook and Twitter is that dealers do not reply to people. These sites are about engagement and communication. Just because someone starts a conversation off by asking about the weather in your city doesn’t mean they won’t follow up with, “My sister lives close to you, and she needs a car.”
Look the part. Having a background that says who you are, what you do, and why you’re there helps you stand out from the competition. Do not rely on the default background and standard avatar. It doesn’t take 10 minutes to make your background and avatar say that you’re a real person.
Search and engage. The search feature on these sites allows you to find people talking about something that may be of interest to your goals. For example, if you’re in Richmond, Va., you should occasionally search for “Richmond” to see what people are saying. Join in on conversations about your city. You don’t have to sell them a car right there and then – just make the connection. They’ll remember and they’ll talk to you.
Don’t Be Scared
These sites are loaded with spam. Users may use language that you either don’t want to hear or don’t understand. The sites are for recreation, not to buy a car.Still, a properly managed account can improve the marketing of the dealership and sell cars, even if it’s indirectly. The demographics are different on Twitter and Facebook than MySpace, many users are in the upper-middle-class between 30 and 45 years old . If you use these sites properly, you will improve your business.
Vol. 6, Issue 9