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The Challenges of Social Media Marketing for Retail Vehicle Sales

Social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. are very popular and going global, and present some key challenges in Internet marketing for retail vehicle sales that are not present for other markets. The other-market retailers that can most obviously connect to customers through social media marketing are those that provide items that are regularly and often needed: Consumables (fast food, restaurant, grocery, entertainment), seasonal goods (clothing, lawn, vacation), and rotational selling (specials of the day, week, etc.). Social media members get involved in these types of sites because they are interested in these goods. If the members also find a useful group to join and also tell their friends and family about, great! And if they find a cute video or interactive flash (“Put Yourself with the Squirrel in this picture!”) to forward socially, so much the better! (see the .pdf for the rest!) The Challenges of Social Media Marketing for Retail Vehicle Sales.pdf

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Tags: marketing, media, sales, seo, social, vehicle

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Comment by Steven Moore on September 30, 2009 at 6:04am
Nice post- Your points of good compelling content is on point. I believe as this area increases it will be those that really listen and listen hard to the VOC voice of the customer will be the winners here. Just wonder how long it will take for the owners and dealers to really get it. Interesting times- I am seeing and participating in these type of conversations across all lines of business because I am helping companies work thru these issues in the B2B marketplace also. Look forward to seeing what the best practices in this indusrty will be and evolve to and if they translate across industries in the B2C area.
Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 24, 2009 at 12:24pm
Thank you, great comment! I can stand by the disagreement, though, because I think what I pointed out is valid and perhaps not though what I conveyed. To clarify, I can remember just 15 years ago trying to get folks working in computers to see past the technology--as I said then that the personal computer, and later on the Internet would be successful for the same reason TV moved on from the hobbyists: Content. Content drew desire, and desire became need. And TV was "one-way" communication! In social media, as in other modern "technology-enabled" markets, early adopters birth the market but don't really nurture it. My aunt wants to discuss with friends and family on FaceBook, absoultely! However, these are "social" discussions and that's where the growth is. My wife searches for bargains and tweets what she finds; my aunt loves to see and talk about pictures of her relatives and grandchildren. They weren't just looking for discussion, they were looking for something interesting to discuss, of interest to them and also to like-minded folks if possible. And that's what I mean from "party" and "reality show"--the content to discuss, not the discussion itself, is what I think social media feeds on. Try to get folks to follow a person who tweets depressing and repetitive angst. Then try to get folks to follow a person who tweets new and exciting and fun content about traveling to fun places! That's the difference I'm trying to get to, and I think with the sales cycle of vehicle buyers taking years you have to stay interesting enough to keep them or easily draw them back. A discussion of cars isn't enough. A discussion about the new phone app that lets me put your picture into the driver's seat of the latest cars along with the most recent internet icon (the squirrel might work right now) on the hood would peek interest. And it would also generate a memory that can be built on later whenever their buying cycle has a hit. THEN they can pursue a discussion of the car because I was either remembered from an older pleasant experience OR more hopefully I was a recent content they had on their FaceBook or tweeted about.

Anyway, if that was understood already, at least it felt good to get it off my chest! :)
Comment by Ron Morrison on September 24, 2009 at 11:56am
Keith I enjoyed your post/article. You've put forward very credible and valid points that dealerships must consider in regard to their social media strategies. I would offer that there are two approaches to engaging your communities that should be considered. Perhaps there are more than two come to think of it but I'll talk about two in this post.

1) the notion of building, deploying, hiring individuals or consultants and implementing practices and processes for you as a dealership to engage your community. In other words you the dealership doing the "message carrying". This is a common first instinct strategy for many businesses and it's the one that you discussed and helped to illustrate the many challenges and difficulties along the way.

2) the notion of a "hyper-social-enterprise". This is where your customers, prospects, community does the "message carrying for you." This of course is could be called word-of-mouth and there are tools and processes that are being built today that enhance, accelerate, and amplify word-of-mouth for business.

I will disagree with you on the idea that social media is more like a "party" or "reality show." The reason the internet and email grew is the same reason that the telephone grew. It's the same reason that papyrus and print grew. It's the very same reason that social media continues to grow at heretofore unprecedented rates. That reason is simply that Markets are Conversations. People (people) discourse. People talk. Social media has facilitated to an even greater degree to listen and be heard. It's a basic human need. A short study of the ClueTrain Manifesto does a better job then I can hope to do here in this post, nonetheless I'd strongly recommend it. Or Tara Hunt's the Whuffie Factor.

You're right that people talk mostly to people who are interesting. It's also true that very few individuals ever think about buying a car, shop for a car, buy a car without ever talking to their friends, family, sphere of influence from the begging through the end of that process. While I typed this blog - there were tens of thousands of co-workers across the country talking about "a car", "their car" in one form or another... online! How do you (your business / dealership) get to be a small part of that discussion is the real question.

Thanks again for your post and article, it really was well done.

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