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Most of the car dealers I know are bottom line kind of people, and that's the question they want answered.
With all the hoopla over social media, how many extra cars am I going to sell this month off of Facebook and the Twitter?
What's the ROI?
Erich Marx, Director of Interactive and Social Media Marketing for Nissan, speaking Saturday at a Nashville Social Media conference said he doesn’t have that answer and he’s not even sure that’s the right question.
Instead, dealers and manufacturers should question the costs of not having an active social media presence.
“You have to be there. It’s not about ROI, it’s about COI– cost of ignoring. It’s too big to ignore. It’s not about tying a Facebook sale to a car sale. Facebook may go away, Twitter may go away, but social media isn’t going away. The expectation of owners and fans of being able to interact with the brand is set in stone.”
A few years ago, the factory and the dealers could get away with putting pretty brochure pics of the hot new models on Facebook, trying to grab eyeballs on the newsfeed and timeline, much like they've been grabbing eyeballs on the network news for the last half century.
But unlike network television adverting Social Media is just that - social. And interactive. As consumers are learning to use Social Media to its fullest potential, dealers have to learn to use it in the same way.
Less like a television and more like a telephone.
Less broadcasting to and more having a conversation with.
And I'm not talking about Like if you think this kitty looks grumpy, share if you think it's cute pseudo engagement trickery.
Social isn’t a CPM (cost per thousand) medium it’s a CRM (customer relations management) medium.
Customers are reaching out via Facebook and Twitter to find out when your dealership is open, how much you charge for an oil change, how much their trade might be worth and if you have brake light bulbs in stock. In other words, they want to know the same thing on Social Media that they’re going to call and ask you about on the phone.
Marx says this growing trend has completely changed the way Nissan staffs and monitors their social media platforms.
There is no set it and forget it. You can’t fill Hootsuite up with a week’s worth of pretty images and walk away.
Your dealership can’t assign its social media to the Sales Manager’s daughter while she’s home from college for the summer and you can’t farm it out to your ad agency. They don’t know which brake lights you have in stock and they can’t get the answers fast enough to keep your customers happy.
Use your social media the same way your customers do, as an integral two way communication device, not much different than the telephone, and like the old TV commercials say, keep those Operators Standing By.
Terry Lancaster is the VP of Making S#!% Happen at Instant Events Automotive Advertising, father of 3 teenage daughters and a Beer League Hockey All Star, as if there could ever be such a thing.
You can connect with Terry on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.