When you think back on it, the introduction of social media within automotive marketing hit our industry like hot sauce on an empty stomach. All of a sudden dealerships, advertising agencies and car companies with an appetite for "what's next" rushed to set up Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and blogs to connect with as many automotive consumers as possible. In our rush to obtain the Willy Wonka golden ticket of automotive marketing and sales, we dropped the ball in several areas... What became roadkill along the way, were the fundamentals of public relations, marketing, communications and sales -- giving way to erroneous assumptions about how dealerships should manage their social marketing.
In my opinion, as well as the perspective I have seen expressed by several other experienced Social Marketers (SoMars), there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to managing a dealer's online positioning using social media. The inconvenient reality is that each dealership's marketing strategy should be adjusted, modified and crafted based upon specific goals, regional variations and the dealer's targeted audience.
The Five Social Media lies
What follows is an automotive social marketing cheat sheet based on one written by Mikal E. Belicove that seeks to address the dangers of absolutes, which I believe is directly applicable to automotive marketing on the Social Web:
- Size Matters
Far too many dealers equate the number of "likes" or "followers" on branded social-media platforms to success, not realizing that it's the quality of those likes and followers that is important. More people signing up to view your message doesn't necessarily equate an increase in sales or even a bump in long-term or sustainable dealership brand recognition.
- The Medium is the Message
Just because it's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr or some other newfangled online or mobile-powered platform, the dealer's message still carries more weight than the medium delivering it. It's always been about how compelling a dealer's message is with car buyers. It's not about the platform or the technology. The technology is just a tool, and just because younger people were the first to use Twitter and Facebook, don't think for a moment that older dealership employees can't effectively use them just as well. If you think Elise Kephart fits the "type" that people imagine using video messaging, imagine the car buyer's thrill and delight when car guys that look like me and Jim Ziegler use personalized video messaging!
- Social Media Gurus Really Do Exist
No, they don't. Here's my advice when you run across someone positioning himself or herself as an "automotive social media guru" or "social marketing expert". Run for the exits! (take your wallet/purse with you) Everybody working in the field of automotive social marketing is practicing on the job training. Just because they've written a book like Mikal E. Belicove has, or spoken in public like Ralph Paglia does about the do's and don'ts of social media, doesn't mean they know your dealership's business and how to conceptualize and manage campaigns that hit upon your dealership's business-related goals.
- Social Media is 'New' Media
No, it isn't. Media is media. Cave paintings in France from 10,000 BC are fine examples of social media... At one point or another, cave paintings, telegraph, newspapers, radio, television and the Internet were considered new forms of media and now they're labeled as "traditional" media. So "new" media doesn't mean that only "experts" or young hotshots can successfully achieve your social media marketing goals. That's hogwash. Nothing replaces knowledge of the basics of automotive marketing, combined with knowledge of your dealership's marketing goals and the need for authenticity and transparency in your socially based marketing communications.
- Social Media Can Be Effectively Outsourced
Nobody knows your business like the people who work inside your dealership. Dealers can certainly work with marketing service providers (like Tier10 Marketing and ADP Social) and advertising agencies to set up and implement their social media-related efforts or to propose campaigns, ideas for contests, customized viral sweepstakes applications and the like. But when it comes to communicating your messages on a daily basis, the people working inside your dealership are in the best position to keep your community of customers and prospects up to date and informed about what really matters to them.
Inspired by and sourced from an article by Mikal E. Belicove published online at http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/220072