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It’s common knowledge that a social media presence is good for sales. It’s your dealership’s opportunity to connect with prospects, develop a reputation for knowledge and gain some relatively free advertising.

However it is becoming terribly clear that many managers and salespeople, in the rush to get their name out there are abandoning something very important. TACT. In fact, many dealerships I have followed seem to have no idea what kind of image they are really projecting online.

Many salespeople seem to suffer under the illusion that the online world is somehow not “real” and that the computer on their desk gives them some sort of anonymity. They say things online that they would never say in person.

Would you ever share details of your romantic life with a business acquaintance? Would you call up a lead and tell them that works sucks today and you wish you were out drinking a beer? Sites like FaceBook give us the ability to share, and comment about, our lives. But for the salesperson who values their reputation there should be limits.

Managers should also be aware of what is being posted online. All it takes is one slip up to completely turn off your hard won followers. Ironically some of the most well intentioned comments can quickly destroy your image.

Here are just a few of the pitfalls I would recommend avoiding. (Admittedly, some of these lessons were learned through personal experience.)

Too Much Information (TMI)

Folks seem to forget that websites are public. They are betrayed by the idea that it is just “friends” who will see their posts. Take this recent FaceBook update from a buddy of mine:

“Turning 50. My wife just scheduled a colonoscopy for me. Not looking forward to having a camera shoved up my A**!”

Is that really the visual you want a possible client to have burned into their mind?

Don’t get me wrong. Sharing personal information is okay if it’s done tactfully and with a mind toward education. For example: “As men age the possibility of certain forms of cancer showing up increases. My 50th birthday is tomorrow and my wife has scheduled me for a colorectal exam. If you‘re over 50 talk with your doctor.”

If you wouldn’t stand up in the middle of the Monday morning meeting and announce what you typed in your status update, don’t do it! Most of us have a filter between our brains and our mouths. Use the same filter when using social sites. Of course, we all have known someone who would make announcements like this.

Taking up space

This was my sin early on. I believed that quantity was the deciding factor and insured that search engines would find me and I would post about every little thing. The only problem is that these useless updates don’t help your clients or enhance your brand.

Commonly seen on FaceBook:

“Sitting at work and I’m bored”, “Lunch time. What should I eat?”, “Listening to Pandora”, or my personal offense, “Good morning/night all”.

These kinds of updates were what soured many GM’s and caused them to be slow adopters of social media in the first place. They used to decry: “Who really cares what I’m eating or what I watched on TV? My clients don’t need to know that!” Well, they were right, no one cares about trivial non-informative updates.

Boring updates are usually posted for two reasons.

1. You feel like you need to post something.
2. You really don’t have anything to say.

Instead of wasting time everyday posting “I’m bored,” spend an hour every now and then visiting automotive news sites gathering useful information. Do this and you’ll never write a boring status update again.

Negative comments or interactions

While these posts are often amusing, if you’re an offender in this area you’re probably causing serious damage to your reputation.

What am I talking about? Updates like these:

“Why do I always get the buyers with bad credit?”

“Those, (insert nationality here), never buy and just want to beat you up.”

The Facebook live news feed is certainly not the best place to voice your frustrations. And more importantly, the Internet never forgets. Over 7 years ago, in an obscure fly fishing newsgroup, I became involved in a heated and sometimes obscene argument. To this day, if a client Google’s me, the archive of that thread pops up.

Once you post your opinions via social media they are there forever. Do you want to sound like a complainer instead of the go-to guy? Keep committing this offense and you’ll alienate the people you work with, and any possible clients will run away from your dealership.

Unlike Nike, I must advise……”Don’t Do It”

The ultimate goal of a social media presence is to grow your business, position yourself as an expert and help your clients. You can do all three by providing useful content and information and, of course, avoiding these common posting mistakes.

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Tags: ActonToyota, FaceBook, Posting, RichardHamel, SocialMedia, ToyotaGuyofBoston, Twitter

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Comment by Josh Hixon on December 27, 2009 at 3:34pm
Squeaky clean? We all thought Tiger was just that... Not so much anymore!
Comment by Jerry Thibeau on December 23, 2009 at 12:11pm
Very good and spot on post Richard. Loved your colonoscopy analogy.

I have a new rule of thumb. I will never put anything in writing that I wouldn't be comfortable sharing with the entire world.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I was forwarding an e-mail to somebody offering an opinion of the person who wrote the original message. Well instead of hitting forward, I hit reply. Late at night when tired one can make these mistakes as I soon learned. The next day I got a very shocking reply from that person and did I ever feel embarrassed. So no more writing things I would not be willing to share with everyone.

On the facebook thing, I would recommend setting up a second account and keep your work and personal stuff separate. Unless of course you live a squeaky clean life. For me it's too late, I've already begun to mix the two, but there are privacy settings should I ever require them.

Jerry Thibeau
Phone-up Ninajs
Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 23, 2009 at 11:21am
Good Afternoon All! I was sitting here bored at work, wondering what to eat, frustrated by all the low beacon scores I've seen this week, remembering how hard it is to sell to folks from the North Pole this time of year, and waiting for the mood boost from my weekly high colonic, and I thought . . . "Great Post by Richard!" :)

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