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I can already hear one of the arguments.
"They're one in the same. A good strategy applies both simultaneously."
While I agree with the statement, one that I've heard many times, I still would like an answer and discussion about one or the other.
For this discussion (so we don't get into the topic of definitions), social media would be the art and science of promoting the dealership and communication with customers through sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest amongst others, while reputation management would be the practice of generating more positive reviews on sites like Google Local, Yelp, and Dealer Rater, while also communicating with those who post reviews on those sites.
With that in mind, which do you hold to be more important?
This sounds like an excellent town hall debate for AutoCon... but it is purely academic. The right answer is that they are inseparable.
I'd never tell a dealer to separate these initiatives. DealerRater's model has included "collect to leverage" for 10 years now. "The art and science of promoting the dealership" is deeply ingrained into everything we do, including the "practice of generating more positive reviews."
If you put my back to the wall though, true third party review sites have compelling reasons to be first in the order of importance if only because they provide a backbone to a social strategy that is valuable (Cat meme's and caption contests aren't a social strategy of value in my opinion.)
Thanks for the thought provoking question J.D.
Great replies, guys. Both make sense and it's great to have the conversation started by two guys at the top of their game on each side of the ball.
If you have a bad or no reputation and your doing social media correct you are only marketing your bad reputation and telling everyone they should not come to this dealership! So the answer to your question is Reputation MARKETING is more important to do FIRST! Build a great reputation and then MARKET that reputation via social media!
I like the concept of reputation marketing, Steve. One of the big buzz words in the marketing world outside of automotive right now is "relationship marketing" which combines much of what you're discussing here. Great stuff.