You see it everywhere: social media is the place to be. It’s talked about in the media, you hear about it from your employees. Heck, it might even be interrupting your own thoughts. Someone or something everyday reminds you that, “You better get the store on social media because you’re missing out!”
Wherever the message comes from, social media marketing and social advertising can sound like a really good idea – and it is. The trouble is, if you’re not a regular user of social media, there’s a lot about it you don’t know.
Social media is a place where organizations win and fail, sometimes on the same day.
A common reaction when a dealer believes social media can help grow their business is to pay a vendor to “get it done.” The problem is that, while there are some tasks a provider can perform, the core strategies must come from within.
Social media marketing and advertising are integral to a company’s overall lead generation effort. All components must ultimately deliver solid reasons that compel your customers to choose you rather than your competitor.
Social isn’t something to “get done;” it’s an ongoing practice to attract, engage and convert.
When the job is to connect with today’s hyper-connected buyers, the value of social media cannot be overstated. However, it’s not for everyone. There are pesky obstacles to overcome and big operational commitments that are required to reach social media’s full potential.
I’ve seen situations over the years clients who declared they wanted to leverage social media marketing and advertising for leads and sales, but they were either unable to make the commitment or were simply not ready for it.
Everyone has to start somewhere and there are other marketing solutions for those that aren’t ready. If you feel your company is ready for social media marketing and social advertising, before you give it the green light, consider these warning signs that may in fact mean that your organization is not ready for social media.
5 Warning Signs Your Company is Not Ready for Social Media
- You think social media is free.
Fact: social media is now pay-to-play. Facebook has morphed into a very valuable tool to generate revenue.
Like all marketing and advertising, social media requires investments:
Even before Facebook’s algorithms restricted content, rendering it pay-to-play, social media was not free.
Social media marketing calls for specific skills and it’s much more difficult to get results today than in the past. Social advertising (Facebook ads) has become a very lucrative tool but the skills needed to succeed are unique and uncommon.
Mastering social media marketing requires the publication of relevant, engaging content on your selected channels. Balancing your brand’s message with the needs and wants of your customers and prospects is no easy task. It takes expertise and that is not free.
Social is also an imperative channel in your SEO. Content originating from your website that’s published on social media and then clicked on, is one of the main ranking factors that establishes authority on search engines.
If you’re not ready to allocate a reasonable budget and manpower, you’re not ready for social media.
- You’re a perfectionist and recoil at the notion of “transparency and authenticity.”
Social media is social. Social means community, conversations, publicity, a shared collective, alignment of values, and in some cases a “social gathering.” If these terms send shivers down your spine, you’re not ready for social media.
Emotions play an important part in marketing and sales. Evoking buyers’ emotions is actually the goal of all marketing and social media is great for it. If you’re a person who’s uncomfortable connecting with others in a business setting, social media may not be for you.
Transparency in dealership operations fosters social media success.
Marketing is not linear. Data and tactics are important but there’s an equally important creative component, especially when it comes to content creation. Stories and good storytelling boost success on social media. Authenticity and transparency contribute to the story so if you’re one who never wavers from established tactics and scientific absolutes; you’re not ready for social media.
If you’re paranoid or controlling by nature, social media will never be a place for your business. This doesn’t make you wrong, it only means that social media will not be a solution for your business growth.
- Your customers’ experiences swing more negative than positive.
The results of customer experiences show readily on online ratings sites.
This warning sign has everything to do with how well a dealer knows its customers and whether or not the dealership lives up to its brand promise.
Online reputation management includes a leadership-based operational structure with systems and processes that focus on delighting customers…and it makes for a great social presence.
When employee satisfaction is low, customer experiences will be negative. If this is the situation at your store, you’re not ready for social media.
- You’re uncomfortable with employee participation in social media.
Employees are trusted more than any other representative or manager in your organization because they’re perceived as “People like me.”
Happy employees who share their expertise by way of content on your website and social media send a very clear message to prospects: “This company is trustworthy and I can feel safe and/or comfortable doing business with them.”
When you showcase employees as thought leaders in your industry, the company receives more recognition online. Employees reap the benefit of their voices being broadcasted, paving the way for more referrals, leads and sales.
The dealership looks smarter because its employees look smarter.
Companies that give employees a voice get noticed.
Companies that are unable to foster an open environment and provide training in content creation and collaboration will have a difficult time on social media. If you’re unable to implement a process to capture and publish stories of employees’ expertise to attract more buyers, you’re not ready for social media.
- The organization lacks a centralized focus and detailed marketing plan.
I’ve had a handful of clients who, after a few months, were unable to fully commit to social media. They gave it their best shot and in the end, it was better to pull back and regroup.
These types of situations come about when an organization isn’t laser-focused on its business goals. Marketing plans help dealers design specific strategies to achieve their goals. Your marketing is like a rudderless ship without a plan.
Old media is a comfortable place and it’s worked well for a very long time. Social media (new media) is strange, uncomfortable and scary. But in order to attract, engage and sell to today’s hyper-connected buyers, at some point, dealers must adapt.
If you find that after reviewing these warning signs, your company is not ready for social media, do not despair. Take a good, hard look at what you’re able to adapt to right now. There’s a solution for every step of the way. The only true harm is if you get stuck and fail to take action.
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”.