At some point in time in your dealership’s growth (and maybe that’s now), it’s likely you’ll recognize the valuable opportunities available with social media marketing and advertising. On that path, you’ll also realize the investment of time, skills and manpower it takes to be successful requires that you assess (and possibly rethink) your current operational structure. It’s unlikely that you, yourself, will realistically be able to produce solid, original, high-quality content, engage with fans or review your metrics and you’ll recognize that it’s clear you need to take decisive action.
You will seriously consider hiring a social media manager.
Once you’ve made this decision, the next hurdle is to figure out who measures up and who’s a poseur. Many dealers, GMs and hiring managers don’t spend a lot of time on social networks so it’s quite a challenge to figure out who the best person is to handle the brand’s reputation, social presence and sales leads.
I recently spoke at the Digital Dealer conference and one of the attendees said, “I don’t feel comfortable handing my brand over to a 20 year old.” This is a common obstacle and the worry is warranted.
When hiring a social media manager, it’s not so much the age but the acumen. I’ve had 19-year-old receptionists tell me they wouldn’t be caught dead on social media. I also know a 41-year-old who handles all the digital and social marketing for a large auto group here in Southern California. It’s not a person’s age; it’s their mindset.
As long as you know the right questions to ask (and are open to expert social media guidance along the way as needed), it won’t matter how old or young the person is.
What matters is that they have sales know-how, a solid foundation in marketing development and strategy and an understanding of today’s hyper-connected, social-media-savvy customers.
Who speaks for your dealership on social media?
Hiring a social media manager can be quite a challenge. Social media reaches people, fosters conversations and your social media manager must develop a funnel for leads and sales from those relationships.
Social media is an integral part of online marketing strategy, which also includes content marketing and SEO.
A lot of people are trying to capitalize on this booming market so here’s a shocker:
Not everyone who says they can do social media marketing have actually done it successfully!
When you’re ready to hire (or promote) your social media manager, take advantage of these 10 questions to ask your candidate. Their answers will inform your decision and help you pick the right person.
- What Social Media platform(s) are best for your business? (and have them explain why).
Ask them to describe the “personality” of your dealership’s brand in 3 words. They should have done research on your company and your customers before assessing the potential across today’s social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, your company blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are awesome channels and each has different marketing tactics.
- What are the two most important social marketing metrics a company should monitor regularly?
- Engagement. Whatever the channel, there needs to be measurable conversation around your company brand. Content is what drives social marketing success so if your content stinks, you won’t see people engaging. Your candidate should be well versed in writing and curating relevant content for your audience.
- Leads. Have they run a social campaign that generated leads? What’s their track record with Facebook ads? Organic (non-paid-for) leads from social media look very different than the ones you see from advertising. Listening and responding timely to social media leads is crucial. Just like in real life conversations, when people talk to you, they expect a response.
- Are they accomplished in a social marketing environment AND in a social customer service environment?
Ask your candidate to define the difference between the two.
- Social marketing environmentcalls for a more conversational approach. Most social media conversations don’t revolve around sales. Your candidate should be able to recognize where someone is in his or her purchase journey and guide them to their destination.
- Social customer service environmentrequires empathy, patience, and the ability to resolve conflict. Your candidate must be able to recognize situations that may call for an escalation to management. Remember: they’re not just responding to that one customer, but for an audience of future customers!
- What’s the most important thing a social media manager should be doing?
A solid answer would be monitoring and/or listening to the audience within the brand’s Social channels. Engaging regularly with fans and followers is evidence that you’re there – you care – and you’re interested in having them as a customer.
When you listen, you learn how to help them buy.
- Have they ever had to handle a social media/online reputation crisis?
Ask them to define what that means to them and what steps they would take to resolve a situation.
If the company doesn’t have a “best practices” protocol in place, it’s time to get one. This would be included in your Social Media Policy and should emulate your current conflict resolution process.
- How would they allocate your budget for social media advertising?
Ask them to describe a plan for how best to allocate your budget and how they would know if it’s successful.
A typical budget consideration is for Facebook ads. Depending on your company and your market, a minimum $500/month is a good start.
Investment in social media and content marketing is prerequisite for success. There are 6 main ways you’re going to invest if you want to see ROI (return on investment):
- Monitoring, publishing and reporting software
- Do they have a blog and do they currently write content for social media channels?
Ask to see their blog in action and make a note to see if they’re posting regularly.
Pro Tip: ask to see links to content they’ve written on the web. Many times, candidates will produce content for places like LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, without having their own personal blog.
It’s crucial that your candidate has a working understanding of how content drives everything in digital marketing – SEO, content, and social media.
- Ask them what marketing strategies they plan to use to generate leads.
You need to know how social media is giving you something quantifiable for your money. Social Media ROI = Number of Leads.
Social media marketing strategies that generate leads require social advertising. Each platform has its strengths but, in most cases, Facebook ads offer the biggest opportunities.
- Ask them what their first goals would be.
If your candidate starts talking about attracting ‘X’ number of Facebook likes or ‘Y’ number of Twitter followers, stop them and ask:
- How will they build an audience of in-market fans?
- How do they plan to engage with that specific audience?
They might try to blind you with numbers but a small, switched-on and engaged audience offers you much more value than a bunch of fans/followers from outside your market area.
- Ask them to tell you a story.
I’ve saved the coolest, most enjoyable question for last. If your candidate has the ability to tell a compelling story, that will give you a huge advantage in all levels of social media and content marketing.
We all connect via stories. Stories paint pictures in customers’ minds and evoke emotions that foster trust and credibility. Your candidate must be able to illustrate, through stories, why people buy from you rather than your competitor.
One Final Thought
This is not a position that should be taken lightly or seen as an entry-level position. Your social media manager will speak the lifeblood of your brand to an indefinite amount of current, new and legacy customers. Please take deliberate steps to find the embodiment of your brand’s personality. Choose someone who takes the leadership role in building your social and online reputation.
Author: Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the U.S.