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As many of you know there is a TON of information available on the subject of social media, more than any one of us could get through in a life time. But, the fact of the matter is, there is a lot of incorrect information, information that doesn't help ANYBODY further their social marketing endeavors.

I see a lot of dealers doing things that, while on the outside look okay, aren't really adding value to the dealerships marketing bottom line, in other words it's not creating community, it's not influencing word-of-mouth, and it's definitely NOT fostering loyalty among their customers.

I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about, then I'd like to ask for your help. As an example, a lot of dealers now know that they shouldn't be talking about themselves on social networks, they then inform the person posting on Facebook to keep the posts conversational in tone and don't self promote, so that's whats they do. Again, sounds legit, right?

Of course it does but that's just level one, there is more to a post than a post that has nothing to do with selling the dealership. They have to be conversational in tone, but more than that you must converse with people, I'm talking about having a real conversation that creates a strong EMOTIONAL connection.The type of connection that most dealerships don't have with their online community.

Why I Need Your Help

I'm creating a video series entitled: Truth In Social Media. In this series I am going to cover a lot of misconceptions about social media that I've seen in countless dealerships, in other words, it's time to set the record straight and I'll be pulling no punches. In fact, this isn't just happening in car dealerships, people that know better, people that teach car dealership how to use social media are the ones at fault. It's about time we dig deep and get to the bottom of this and I need your help.

What would you like to see covered? What have you seen that irritates you because you know its not the right thing to do? What are you, yourself, unsure of? Nothing is off limits, and I promise you that this video series is going to be a REAL eye opener... might even get some people fired... LOL. Can you help me?

Tags: Truth In Social Media, automotive social media

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

David - I will raise my hand and say I would like to help in any way i can... To your point, one of the situations I see that seems logical, but inflicts more harm than good is dealerships where in order to respond to a consumer, or engage with the consumer in a meaningful way, the responder must get the response approved by another person, manager, owner or the company's social media marketing services provider before being allowed to post a response... This is the antithesis of conversation!!! I am guilty of condoning this social media marketing malpractice by telling dealers that response time to social media posts are critical to success and must be shortened, when in fact there should be NO RESPONSE TIME BEYOND IMMEDIATE CONVERSATIONAL RESPONSE that is patently acceptable.


Based on a ton of experience, the dealership should generally try to engage more of their staff in social media conversations rather than less... This may seem counterintuitive, but when I look at the dealers who i consider to be at the top of the social media marketing game I see a consistent pattern of more dealership employees involved rather than less.

I totally agree with you Ralph! I've said, more than a few times, that the biggest difference between traditional marketing and social marketing is that traditional marketing is all about the marketing of the business, while social marketing is all about the marketing of the PEOPLE of the business.


Having said that, I feel it's important that everybody in the dealership have some sort of presence in the overall social strategy, with each one being empowered to respond, to a certain extent, online.


Ralph, this a perfect example of what I'm talking about and something that I would love to expose! Most dealerships think that they should have one person who is the "voice" of the dealership, when in fact, just as you said, there should be more staff engaged in the social media conversations, not less.

Hi David, I would be happy to contribute but I think there can be legitimate disagreements pop up here based on what goals dealers set for themselves in Social Media (collection vs connection, ROI expectations, etc).  Also Social Media advice must not be isolated to Facebook but an integrated SM strategy.  Do you agree?
I used to start my workshop by saying that Social Media wasn't Facebook. It was meant to get a reaction and it did, because I always paused afterwards to see what people would say. Social marketing is all about people and as such there is more to "people" than just Facebook. In other words, Facebook is just another tool that we can use to connect with the larger online community. So, in other, OTHER words, I agree Tom! LOL

(I just used this comment on another blog post regarding Facebook, but figured it was worth repeating here...=)


I'm like the evil posterchild of professionals who argue that Facebook is a waste of time for a vast majority of dealers because of the poor ROI.  There are some fundamentals that too many people seem to ignore:


  1. Dealers don't have "cool" enough brands to warrant the attention of a vast majority of people on Facebook (and "cool" is not the same as business success/strength...another fact people always forget).  I mean, are you a "fan" of your local dry cleaner, gas station, convenience store, etc., all of which you go to 20+ times more than a dealer, and all of which you like more than your dealer?  I'm guessing no.  In fact, go to any dealer's website and see how many fans they have (it's probably a few hundred, which is terrible considering how many employees and employee family members/friends they have, and the tens/hundreds of thousands of customers they have in total).  Or see how many fans actually post something on a dealer's page...hardly anything, if at all.  It is just a waste of time, resources, and money for a vast majority of dealers to manage a Facebook process for so few actual customers when you can engage with them much more effectively in other ways.
  2.  Facebook has about 140 million users in the U.S. (and declining).  TV has well over 300 million users in the U.S.  If numbers are the sole rationale, then TV would be the way to go.  In addition, SOV is very difficult to achieve on Facebook, which contributes to its weak ROI.  You need a balanced digital and traditional marketing approach that generates the ROI you need in brand equity, brand awareness, and/or sales opps.
  3. There is a reason social media represents only 3 to 5% of total digital and traditional marketing/advertising expenditures in the doesn't have an ROI worth pursuing for a vast majority of brands.  Stick with digital and traditional marketing, do them well, and you won't miss a beat.  And if social media tools like Facebook somehow become meaningful as a business tool (i.e. you have a brand worth engaging with in the social media space), jump in has an incredibly low barrier-to-entry, so there is no reason to get in today just because others have (and unsuccessfully too).  There is no need to pioneer this low/negative ROI space when you have a business with just a 2% a fast-follower and you will be more than fine.
  4. Regarding social media strategy, Gary Vaynerchuk sums it up pretty nicely in this interview with our local guru Bryan Elliott where he explains his famously controversial comment "99% of social media experts are clowns"...
Charles - I have come to recognize and respect your perspectives on social media, and especially on Facebook... It is through the intense scrutiny and critical analysis that you consistently apply that we can realize value from these tools and not spend as much valuable time that is wasted on practices that yield no economic value.  I happen to believe that social media marketing, in general, is a high value proposition for car dealers, but your points are all issues we need to pay attention to and address in working towards sales realization from a medium that CAN BE the black hole of resources and time when used inappropriately.

I agree with you Ralph, if done correctly social media can add tremendous value to a dealership and any business for that matter. But, one must realize that social marketing is an ingredient, not the whole entree, and I think that is where Charles is coming from.

Charles, too many people talk as if social media is the end all be all... it isn't. But, it is a GREAT way to connect with people and influence word-of-mouth and customer loyalty. ROI is an easy thing to track on Social Networks, one just needs to know how to go about it.

The reason, I feel, that most dealerships aren't seeing the kind of return that they are used to seeing with advertising, is because they go about social marketing as if it were traditional marketing, and its not. In and of itself, social media shouldn't be looked at as a lead generation tool, but rather a relationship generation tool. It's in those relationships that loyalty and word-of-mouth is formed. You did bring up some great points and are ones that i would love to tackle in this video series. Thank you so much for your input Charles, it is MOST appreciated.

And before you ever use any dealer as an example of an ROI success story in your video, I highly recommend personally validating the success.  I can't tell you how many dealers/consultants claim to have a successful social media strategy when a detailed marketing and ROI analysis (for either brand equity, brand awareness, or sales) shows a low/negative ROI relative to other forms of digital and traditional marketing. 


The easiest thing to sell to anyone is something that is really popular that they don't have a very good understanding of, be it fashion, technology, cars, etc.  Social media definitely falls into that category as the marketing "shiny object" for dealers to be distracted by.  Actually, what I've always found interesting is how much discussion there is about social media to begin with.  For example, this is the Automotive Digital Marketing forum, yet so much of what is discussed is about social media (versus broader digital marketing and CRM strategies, which should be the lion's share of discussions given the huge ROI impacts these have, and how few dealers actually do these really well) when, again, it represents just single-digit percentages of total marketing/advertising expenditures because of the low/negative ROI.


I think that is in essence what guys like Gary V. points out in his interviews/articles and his "clown" comment.  Social media "experts" are usually not brand marketing experts (same goes for CRM "experts")...there is a huge difference between a person that understands, can put together, and can successfully execute a comprehensive digital/traditional marketing and brand strategy, versus one that knows how to execute a small portion of that comprehensive brand marketing strategy.  I know of many social media "experts," a smaller number of social media experts, and far fewer brand marketing experts.  Before any dealer embarks on any social media strategy, they need to REALLY understand social media as well as they understand other forms of digital and traditional media, and how social media actually fits into their overall brand, marketing, and sales strategies.

Very well said, but I don't plan on using this as a persuasion tool at all so I wont be pointing out any dealer success story, rather as a way to point out what dealers are doing wrong and what they can do to see a positive return. Again, very easy to track. But, you are right in saying that the majority of dealers wont see much success, and the reason boils down to one thing and one thing only... mindset. Of all the dealers that I've worked with only a small percentage get it, and I mean really get it. Again, thank you.

I would like to see a successful dealer featured and how easily they track their ROI. It would take some heat off the folks that hawk social. I would not view it as a persuasion tool for or against. It would help point out as you say "....... what they can do to see a positive return."

I may be one of the dinosaurs that Jay refers to. "Stuck in time" and I "just don't get it".

I want to get it, I want to understand it, I'd like to see some validated numbers for a store or better yet, several that are kicking social butt. I have heard many times how good it is and that we should invest heavily because it is so good. I would look forward to sharing dealer success stories. For now, I remain more focused on traditional and digital media Looking forward to your video series David!

I did write a post on tracking ROI, using the traditional ROI formula. It's just one way, and while it provides a 30,000 foot approach any dealer would get it.


If you want, we can spend some time on the phone and I'll answer any questions that you may have. Just a thought.

Hi Thomas,  Since I don't believe in silver bullets, I would suggest that you don't invest heavily.  Although I'm a proponent of Social Media,  I don't see the need for huge investments, at least not up front.  What is needed is the right approach and an understanding of why you are doing it. 

Social Media is but a piece of a much larger puzzle but it's a piece you don't want missing from the picture.  If you take the approach that it is customer relations and word-of-mouth advertising with a long-term payoff, you have no problem with the ROI and can measure it the same as you do loaner cars, coffee, wi-fi in the waiting room, etc.

As your Social Media grows with "real" fans rather than numbers, you will discover the value and decide whether to pursue it more vigorously.  This approach may not bring immediate gratification of ROI, but I believe its sensible and balanced. I was just wondering, what's the ROI of a good Dealer Review plan?  Does anyone have a measurement for that?


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