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I have had a couple people ask me to write a manual on Craigslist for Automotive Dealers and I have always shuddered at where I would start. Although, I suppose a blog is a good stepping block so I shall begin here!


Craigslist is the 8th highest viewed website in the United States and there are several reasons why. First: IT'S FREE! It's free for those that look, its free for those that post (with the exception of 25 cities in the job classified section), and the site itself is not complicated or hard for any individual to navigate within. But there is one crucial reason as to why Craigslist is so effective and this reason is that most people do not immediantly see: NO SPAM.


Craig Newmark (the founder of Craigslist) is positively 100% AGAINST SPAM/ overposting and uses his extensive IT knowledge to prevent this phenomonen from happening. It is these efforts that make Craigslist so valuable-customers come to the site knowing they are not going to be bombarded by the same ad they have seen in the last five minutes. Customers come to Craigslist to view cars because they trust that website: They know that they are going to find a good array of selection and spend the least time navigating through similiar cars and trucks.


Okay, so it's too good to be true: it's the highest viewed website, customers love it because there is not a lot of spam, and it's free for the dealer's to post? CORRECT! But yes, it is good to be true--there is A LOT more than goes into Craigslist than what may appear on the outside...so here are some helpful tips and tricks...


Because of the volume in the automotive section, posting one or two cars a day isn't going to yeild you the maximum results. Car dealers have many cars in their inventory and with all the other posts by other deaers and owners, it takes time and skill to navigate your way to make sure your ads get on the top...everyday...


Internet managers can not sell cars, answer e-mail leads, and post their entire inventory to Craigslist everyday AND deal with the massive call load. Not to mention, Internet managers do not have as much computer knowledge as it takes to really utilize Craigslist. Because of this factor, I have become the closest thing to a Craigslist proffessional and through the headaches and the groans, I will have to say it is well worth it.


So I figured I would share my tips and tricks as they randomly come along.


The first lesson of the day: Flagging.


Flagging. Ah flagging. Flagging in the automotive industry is 80% done by competitors. When you are in your account page and see a massive amount of reddish pink, you have been flagged. And that is not good.


So you have just spent five minutes posting your ad and then it gets flagged and it's gone from the main page. You can re-post it again and not wait 48 hours but you have to be watching your account pretty slyly to catch when it happens. Once again, hard for Internet managers to do if they are selling cars and dealing with all of their other duties.


Craigslist know requires phone verified accounts, which makes the ones you have very valuable. If you have an account that has just suffered a flagging nightmare, you have to "nuture that account" back to health. All e-mail accounts have point systems: if your account gets flagged, you lose points. For every ad that goes live and does not get flagged, you gain points. Sadly, the gain ratio is not even proportionate to the loss ratio, but this may help if you are confused on why your ads are now being GHOSTED.


Ghosted is the WORST. If your email account had a flagging nightmare for a couple of days, there is a good chance your ads will get ghosted. If you go into your account page and you see all your ads are green, that giddy feeling in your stomach should not be felt UNTIL YOU GO TO THE MAIN PAGE and actually SEE if your ads have gone live. You can also RSS feed this information to view it, but the bottom line is that just because you see green does not mean that you are free in the clear.


Ghosting was designed to make the person posting think that all of their ads are going up, but in reality, you have done something that Craigslist does not like. This could be an array of factors, but if you are posting heavily, I would recommend making sure the ads are going live where potential customers can view them.


I will post more on Craigslist if anybody finds it valuable or interesting...I am a firm believer that Craigslist is a great site and utilizing it's potentials may be cumbersome, but well worth it.


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Comment by Sarah Myers on March 25, 2010 at 12:35am
Greg,

The community flags; Craigslist ghosts. However, if you get flagged heavily, craigslist will run a search on all your ads and anything with similiar content will be flagged by Craigslist itself. The only system Craigslist has to prevent spam is 1) the community (aka flagging) and 2) Ghosting (Craig Newmark's scripts that search out similar content). When you post an ad to Craigslist, Craigslist has 1-3 checks BEFORE your ad goes live. One: E-mail address. Two: Content. Three: IP address. If two out of three of these factors is in violation, the majority of your ads get ghosted. If you pass two out of three, even if one is in violation, your ads goes live, but your flagging ratio is considerably weaker than all the rest.

The flagging ratios for Craigslist vary city from city and account to account. If your email account has been heavily flagged, all it will take is one flag to get down an ad. If you haven't been flagged, it takes 3-10 IP addresses FROM THE SAME LOCATION OF WHERE THE AD IS POSTED. If you have an e-mail account that has been heavily flagged, it is important to make sure you post ads in an area that will NOT get flagged. This re-builds the account. If you use one account to do all your postings, and you are flagged by a competitor, you are at risk for EVERY SINGLE AD with ANY SIMILIAR CONTENT going down.

Craigslist uses scripts to prevent spam. Unfortunatly, this means that competitors can destroy you unless you know the secrets and rules of the system. The most important thing is to STOP if you are getting flagged. If you continue, you run the risk of being devoured.

My email is sarah-myers@live.com - Greg, e-mail me and I can work with you and get the exact problems and help you fix it. I have had a dealer where 765 ads came down at the same time--when something of that nature happens, you learn how to make sure it never happens again!

Happy Hunting!
Comment by Greg Mills on March 24, 2010 at 9:45pm
Great article, please share more. How does Craigslist flag an add if you post it in two different cities?

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