It wasn’t very long ago that the social networking sites of today were being hailed as a virtually cost-free medium to reach your clients with your advertising efforts. “Hey! You get to put your very same ads and commercials someplace else, but for free!” It was like having an affair with a young, attractive ingénue, freeing you up from the headache that was your marriage to traditional media advertising. Granted, some of the social networking sites (partners) available to us just a couple of years ago have faded away. For one reason or another, they didn’t stick around. Maybe the years caught up with them, they lost their looks, and we, as suitors, looked elsewhere for the newest shiny object. Their business models simply weren’t strong enough or we were just too A.D.H.D. and jumped to the next networking mistress. Regardless, we were able to grow with these sites. We explored new terrain. Learned the lay of the land. They may have been indiscretions, but they were our “first”…the ones that helped us discover how to make all the right moves.
Now we’ve moved on to other social sites and are going steady with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Ning. When we are being bad, we sneak away and jump on Youtube. We ask our friends what they think of our newest trophy site and seek out their comments on Digg, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and the rest.
Now, those are quite a few sites to keep up with. Are you spreading yourself too thin? Are you forgetting about all of the online advertising platforms that grew your internet department in the first place? Are you able to spend quality time with each social media site to get the most out of them? As anyone will tell you, if you want to make your relationship work with one of these social networking sites, it’s gonna take time. A whole lot of precious time. It’s gonna take patience and time…to do it right.
Realize that these sites are moody, cantankerous, fickle, and capricious entities that need constant attention. Do you know all that is expected of you to develop a fruitful union with these sites? The more you spend time with one, the more your other sites pick up on the rejection, bask in their loneliness and cut you off from growth. Determine quickly what sites can yield you results with the minimum amount of time dedicated and focus on those. You can’t be everywhere at once, regardless of the thrill, so don’t take on too many partners. Exploring new site after new site will get you sick.
Dealers must continue to measure what these social sites are giving back to them. Don’t turn your back on your other internet initiatives. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “hell hath no fury like a website scorned.” Pay attention to your website, your online inventory, and your leads. No new social networking mistress will make these basic profit generators obsolete. You’ve been relatively happy and successful with these for a while now. It is dangerous divorcing yourself from these responsibilities just to try to make it with one of these young, sweet things. Look at it in a real world scenario…if you get famous, you’d likely stay married to your current spouse, right?. The one who stuck with you through the good times and bad? Of course. Because you know if you were famous and left to look for something “better”, you’d never really know if the new partner liked you for you or because of what you spend on them. In the ways of social networking sites, you spend time. Some…too much time. Relative to the profit they yield, WAY too much time. I bet if a few of these Internet Sales Managers pick up the phone and called as many customers as they poke on Facebook, they’d be much better off financially.
In the beginning, I mentioned these sites were initially cost-free. As it goes with time, they begin asking more of you…time, effort, and yes, money (as new vendors find ways to monetize the sites – and you as the client must pay for these trainings/services/products). Some dealers don’t want to dedicate the time to developing their presence on these sites so they reach out to us trainers, consultants, experts to manage their social media presence for them. Sometimes it is worth it for the dealer and sometimes it may not be.
What I am saying is… it is alright to cheat…a little. It’s perfectly acceptable seeing what the social sites can do for you provided you don’t spend all of your time trying to find out.
A social networking mistress is there:
-To yield you some positive results.
-To give you a shot in the arm of confidence and reputation.
-To kill a little time.
-To feel young again.
-To drive a little business and retention to your dealership.
It is not there to break up the family of online advertising initiatives you’ve spent so long stabilizing. Very rarely will this new significant other give back the same way the others have…in leads…in conversion…in profit.
So sleep around, but keep one eye on your wallet and one eye on the door. When a social networking mistress starts costing you too much money…too much time….it may be time to head for the door. Get yourself back home and realize what is truly important. Beware the cruel mistress of social media.