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Much has been said about using social media for businesses, but it seems like most information is aimed towards the typical small retail business or service provider. Too many dealers seem to ignore basic tips or strategies to leverage social media for the benefit of the dealership. To help solve this problem, here's a quick and easy guide to getting started with social media.
Pick your Social Media Sites
There are dozens of social media sites available, with various benefits and drawbacks. Some of them will be more beneficial than others to a dealership. The basics:
Twitter: Essential for fast promotions, short-form communication and easy advertising of longer content on other social sites. You should almost definitely have a Twitter profile.
Facebook: The Facebook audience is simply too large and too varied to ignore. Facebook is easy to set up, but equally easy to use incorrectly. Remember to focus on engaging potential customers, not using it as a place to post billboard advertisements. Keep a personal touch.
Google+: Google's competitor for Facebook as a smaller audience and you won't find many of your sales coming from information posted on the site. If you're working on SEO for your main dealership page and blog, however, Google+ is essential. The benefits to SEO are unparalleled.
LinkedIn: This professional networking site is a good way to network for talented salespeople to hire, and it's a good way to establish some credibility in case your dealership has a low reputation. For direct sales, it's not great, but if you want to focus on industry commentary, it's a good place to start.
Develop a Brand Promotion Plan
Once you know what sites you want to use, you need to develop a marketing strategy. This involves answering a few important questions about how you want to portray your dealership and your brand. Your strategy will be unique to your dealership, but here are some ideas to get you started with brainstorming:
1. You can utilize a "business casual" persona to advertise your own services in comparison to those of your competitors. Pick a car they're selling, analyze their deal and explain how yours is better.
2. Use a completely casual persona to comment on industry news and developments in a sarcastic, informative or humorous light. Share industry leader blogs and add your own commentary. Engage customers in a discussion of industry trends.
3. Use the idea of short-term sales and promotions through Twitter and Facebook. Host hour-long promotions for free extras during routine servicing. Offer day-long or week-long promotions for larger sales. Take the time in between promotions to engage with customers.
Stick with the Plan
The hardest part of a content marketing strategy is to stick with it. You absolutely need one dedicated social media manager who knows what they're doing, so you avoid missed opportunities. More importantly, you need to avoid potential scandals, meltdowns and other viral business-killers.
You also need to stick with the strategy over the long term. As you implement your strategy, you need to be measuring what efforts have what effects. Every few months, you can make changes based on those measurements. If you don't stick with the plan, your measurements cease to be valid and your adjustments become based on intuition more than data.
Social media isn't easy to utilize properly, but it doesn't need to be difficult. Take it one step at a time, avoid making the classic non-engagement mistakes and you have a great chance at success.