For lots of dealers, social media seems like a minefield. Tack on the fact that social media has matured into a very viable place to engage customers and promote products…and you’ve got a terrifying place that many dealers would rather ignore.
Ignoring social media is the equivalent of opening a store without telling anyone.
But all the warnings in the world are not going to motivate dealers to take action if they still have a lot of fear.
I’d like to alleviate some of that fear today.
Avoiding social media pitfalls has become a big business. It’s difficult to know where to turn for the best advice.
For over eight years now, I’ve been singing the “social media song” and, alas, the needle hasn’t moved much, especially for auto retail.
You know what? That’s okay. It’s perfectly fine to venture out into social media at your own pace. What I don’t want you to do is venture out and step on a rake.
5 Foundation Essentials for Social Media Success
Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been using it for some time, these five components will help you leverage all you can from each platform.
1. Secure your reputation with a Social Media Policy
At Kruse Control, we advocate implementing an up-to-date policy for employee use of social media.
The line between dealers and their employees on social media is steadily blurring. Auto retail organizations today need a social media policy that at once helps keep the brand’s reputation intact while also encourages employee participation online.
A social media policy outlines how a dealership and its employees should conduct themselves online. This document helps to safeguard your store’s reputation while also encouraging employees to responsibly share the company’s message.
Ideally, you’ll want to consult with the following stakeholders when creating a social media policy for your company:
- C-level (owners and managers)
- Corporate Counsel
- Social Media Strategist
Because social media moves fast, this policy should be considered a living document—ongoing updates will be necessary.
2. Written Social Media Strategy
Content is the atomic particle in all digital marketing.
Social media strategy defines how an organization (or individual) will use social media to achieve its business goals, including the supporting platforms and tools it will use to achieve this.
At a basic level, it’s a statement of intent, outlining the goals and measurable objectives for using social media, and the target outcomes you want to achieve.
When defining what it takes to achieve social media success, we need to talk about strategy first. I was inspired to include this component because I receive questions like these from good people, many of whom are struggling to find answers:
- “Do I have to be on every social network?”
- “What type of things do I say on social media?
- “How often should I post?”
- “How do I get more followers?”
- “My boss asked me to take over the Facebook page and I don’t know where to start.”
- “Should I pay for social advertising?”
- “I’m in a boring industry. Do I still need social media?”
- “Do I need social media management tools?”
- “Should I outsource my social media?”
I’ve had a run of these emails lately and frankly, my heart aches for these good people because they’re lost. It’s easy to get lost these days because the social media landscape is no longer a field of flowers sparsely populated.
Today, social media is a dense, crowded, noisy, smoggy urban jungle.
3. Do a Social Media Audit
Whether your social media marketing is in-house or outsourced, it’s often difficult to see where the gaps are between your current successes and where you need to be. Your inbox is full of tips, tools and hacks to “improve” results and it’s exhausting. The best way to remove the guesswork is with a social media audit.
A social media audit is a smart step because time and resources are often wasted trying to improve things that don’t need improving, while neglecting the things that really need attention.
4. Build an Online Review Funnel
Word of mouth referrals have always been my go-to source for finding trusted sellers and online ratings sites are where most people turn today.
Online reviews are insanely influential.
- 90% of consumers read online reviews.
- 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 86% will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative reviews.
- Customers are likely to spend 31% more with a business that has positive reviews.
- 92% will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating.
Benefits of building an online review funnel:
- Systematically drive customers to one conversion funnel that routes them to the review sites you care about.
- Automatically ask, remind and guide happy customers through the funnel.
- Recover unhappy customers before they vent online.
- Analyze results daily for actionable insights to improve upon.
5. Engage with Social Customer Service
People increasingly turn to social media to engage with companies. Social has matured as a communication channel and people have blended it into their lives. They expect dealers to do the same.
While some dealers now use social media regularly, very few take social customer service seriously.
Currently, 92.5% of brands fail to meet customer expectations on social media and these failures can have big implications.
Quality customer service – regardless of channel – relies on a meaningful, efficient, solution-focused exchange between companies and their customers. The growing preference for social media as a preferred channel requires your organization to re-think its customer service strategy.
Good social customer service strategy keeps your store in the conversation and doesn’t allow malcontents and competitors to speak for you.
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”.