Automotive Digital Marketing

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Does Your Dealership Have a Social Media Policy?

Many dealers are hesitant to let their salespeople use Facebook because they expect employees to waste too much time chatting with their friends, playing Farmville, etc. This concern is understandable when you want your salespeople to be on the floor selling, following up to leads over email and phone, and making the most of their time. But you can’t ignore the fact that the majority of your potential leads are using Facebook and it is a legitimate tool for automotive advertising.

Instead of banning Facebook, there is a better way that still gives your salespeople full potential to connect with leads. At Potratz, we encourage the dealerships we work with to ask their employees to sign a social media policy, agreeing not to play games, chat (except for with customers), view videos unrelated to the dealership or vehicles, etc. Also, dealership servers let internet managers monitor employees’ usage, so managers can warn those who are wasting time on Facebook instead of doing work-related activities.

Also, be sure to have employees post on your dealership’s main Facebook business page instead of setting up their own. They should post from their own personal profiles, but should not set up their own business pages for themselves for people to “like.”

Facebook sometimes will merge pages with similar names, so if someone created a page for “Smithtown Ford” and a Joe at the dealership created another business page for “Joe at Smithtown Ford,” Facebook could merge those pages and cause your dealership to lose content that requires a hassle to get back (this is not hypothetical and did happen to one of our clients!). Of course, keeping everything focused around the main page keeps the most “likes” on the page and the most attention focused toward that one page for the dealership as well.

If you’re hesitant to let your salespeople use Facebook, sit down and write up a social media policy and give them access. You’ll see your leads go up as they are able to connect with customers on a more personal level.

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Tags: ad, advertising, agency, automotive, car, company, dealership, marketing

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:27am
The social media policy tool at http://socialmedia.policytool.net is a high value tool that creates a customized social media policy for each dealer based on answering 12 questions that are used to tailor the policy to the desired operating procedures of each dealership.  I do NOT recommend using a "One Size Fits All" approach to implementing social media policy! Different dealers will have varying requirements depending upon a variety of factors, including brand and location, as well as the strategies towards the use of social media by that specific dealer! The example shown below for ADM is the result of me answering 12 yes or No questions... before you use a policy created outside of your dealership, answer the 12 questions at http://socialmedia.policytool.net and review what the tool creates for your dealership!
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:21am

ADM Professional Community Social Media Policy

This policy governs the publication of and commentary on social media by employees of Automotive Digital Marketing LLC and its related companies ("ADM Professional Community"). For the purposes of this policy, social media means any facility for online publication and commentary, including without limitation blogs, wiki's, social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. This policy is in addition to and complements any existing or future policies regarding the use of technology, computers, e-mail and the internet.

 

ADM Professional Community employees are free to publish or comment via social media in accordance with this policy. ADM Professional Community employees are subject to this policy to the extent they identify themselves as a ADM Professional Community employee (other than as an incidental mention of place of employment in a personal blog on topics unrelated to ADM Professional Community).

Publication and commentary on social media carries similar obligations to any other kind of publication or commentary.

All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that ADM Professional Community employees must otherwise follow.

Setting up Social Media

Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from ADM Professional Community's Editor-in-Chief.

Your profile on social media sites must be consistent with your profile on the ADM Professional Community website or other ADM Professional Community publications. Profile information may be obtained from the Editor-in-Chief.

Don't Tell Secrets

It's perfectly acceptable to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it's not okay to publish confidential information. Confidential information includes things such as unpublished details about our software, details of current projects, future product ship dates, financial information, research, and trade secrets. We must respect the wishes of our corporate customers regarding the confidentiality of current projects. We must also be mindful of the competitiveness of our industry.

Protect your own privacy

Privacy settings on social media platforms should be set to allow anyone to see profile information similar to what would be on the ADM Professional Community website. Other privacy settings that might allow others to post information or see information that is personal should be set to limit access. Be mindful of posting information that you would not want the public to see.

Be Honest

Do not blog anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names. We believe in transparency and honesty. Use your real name, be clear who you are, and identify that you work for ADM Professional Community. Nothing gains you notice in social media more than honesty - or dishonesty. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, point it out. But also be smart about protecting yourself and your privacy. What you publish will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully and also be cautious about disclosing personal details.

Respect copyright laws

It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including ADM Professional Community own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else's work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it.

Respect your audience, ADM Professional Community, and your coworkers

The public in general, and ADM Professional Community's employees and customers, reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don't say anything contradictory or in conflict with the ADM Professional Community website. Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory - such as politics and religion. Use your best judgment and be sure to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of ADM Professional Community.

Protect ADM Professional Community customers, business partners and suppliers

Customers, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. Never identify a customer, partner or supplier by name without permission and never discuss confidential details of a customer engagement. It is acceptable to discuss general details about kinds of projects and to use non-identifying pseudonyms for a customer (e.g., Customer 123) so long as the information provided does not violate any non-disclosure agreements that may be in place with the customer or make it easy for someone to identify the customer. Your blog is not the place to "conduct business" with a customer.

Controversial Issues

If you see misrepresentations made about ADM Professional Community in the media, you may point that out. Always do so with respect and with the facts. If you speak about others, make sure what you say is factual and that it does not disparage that party. Avoid arguments. Brawls may earn traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don't try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates. Make sure what you are saying is factually correct.

Be the first to respond to your own mistakes

If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly - better to remove it immediately to lessen the possibility of a legal action.

Think About Consequences

For example, consider what might happen if a ADM Professional Community employee is in a meeting with a customer or prospect, and someone on the customer's side pulls out a print-out of your blog and says "This person at ADM Professional Community says that product sucks."

Saying "Product X needs to have an easier learning curve for the first-time user" is fine; saying "Product X sucks" is risky, unsubtle and amateurish.

Once again, it's all about judgment: using your blog to trash or embarrass ADM Professional Community, our customers, or your co-workers, is dangerous and ill-advised.

Disclaimers

Many social media users include a prominant disclaimer saying who they work for, but that they're not speaking officially. This is good practice and is encouraged, but don't count on it to avoid trouble - it may not have much legal effect.

The Editor-in-Chief can provide you with applicable disclaimer language and assist with determining where and how to use that.

Don't forget your day job.

Make sure that blogging does not interfere with your job or commitments to customers.

Social Media Tips

The following tips are not mandatory, but will contribute to successful use of social media.

The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. There is a good chance of being embarrassed by a real expert, or of being boring if you write about topics you are not knowledgeable about.

Quality matters. Use a spell-checker. If you're not design-oriented, ask someone who is whether your blog looks decent, and take their advice on how to improve it.

The speed of being able to publish your thoughts is both a great feature and a great downfall of social media. The time to edit or reflect must be self-imposed. If in doubt over a post, or if something does not feel right, either let it sit and look at it again before publishing it, or ask someone else to look at it first.

Enforcement

Policy violations will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for cause.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:19am

Notes from the Net

"Don't go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public."

30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business @ Inc.com

 

Preview: The following tips are not mandatory, but will contribute to successful use of social media.

The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. There is a good chance of being embarrassed by a real expert, or of being boring if you write about topics you are not knowledgeable about.
Quality matters. Use a spell-checker. If you're not design-oriented, ask someone who is whether your blog looks decent, and take their advice on how to improve it.
The speed of being able to publish your thoughts is both a great feature and a great downfall of social media. The time to edit or reflect must be self-imposed. If in doubt over a post, or if something does not feel right, either let it sit and look at it again before publishing it, or ask someone else to look at it first.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:14am

Notes from the Net

Disclaimers can sometimes make sure that all your bases are covered. However they can also remove some of the casual aspect from social media.

 

Example Preview: Many social media users include a prominant disclaimer saying who they work for, but that they're not speaking officially. This is good practice and is encouraged, but don't count on it to avoid trouble - it may not have much legal effect.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:12am

Notes from the Net

"Apple's marketing efforts are consistent - they feature white backgrounds with products melding into the white, emphasizing the Apple logo, or standing in stark colorfulness against the blank background."
Read the article at ezinearticles.com

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:11am

Notes from the Net

"As a business, the more consistency and relevance in your search engine marketing and social media marketing strategies, the stronger your chance of connecting with your target audience and gaining brand loyalty."
Read the article at Blue Interactive

 

Example Preview: Your profile on social media sites must be consistent with your profile on the ADM Professional Community website or other ADM Professional Community publications. Profile information may be obtained from the Editor-in-Chief.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:09am

Notes from the Net

"Your employees, if given the right incentives and tools, can become the biggest champions of your brand. They are the most important audience in any brand effort because they both deliver the brand experience and influence public opinion."
Read the article at The Social Workplace

 

Example Preview: Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from ADM Professional Community's Editor-in-Chief.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:06am

Notes from the Net

If you already have an ethics policy that governs other behaviour then make sure that your social media policy is consistant with that.

"All online communication by Dell employees or company representatives on behalf of Dell is subject to Dell's Code of Conduct and applicable Electronic Dialogue policies, laws and regulations."
Click here to read the article at Dell

 

Example Preview: All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that ADM Professional Community employees must otherwise follow.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:05am

Notes from the Net

Some employees continue to promote and represent the company outside of a typical 9 to 5. Requiring them to follow this policy at all times may prevent potential embarressments.

"However, when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC's editorial values and policies."
Click here to read the article at BBC

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 26, 2011 at 4:05am

Notes from the Net

If the goal of your employees use of social media is to promote broader brand awareness then you might want to let them use your company name. For example the London Free Press journalists all use firstnameatlfpress as their Twitter handle.

"If you are blogging about your work for IBM, we encourage you to use your real name, be clear who you are, and identify that you work for IBM."
Click here to read the article at IBM

"If an employee is engaging on external social media platforms personally, they should not use the company's name in their identity (e.g. username, "handle" or screen name), nor should they speak as a representative of the company." 
Click here to read the article at ESPN

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