Many years ago, I heard an influential digital marketing speaker tell his audience that the most important next hire in automotive dealerships should be a Content Manager. He was right then, and is still correct today. There is no substitute for great content. Great content is why we choose to have long conversations with a particular person at a cocktail party. Great content is why we cannot put down that great book we’re reading. Great online content will be rewarded by your Social Media community.
As Google, Bing, and other search engines continue to evolve, many SEOs take the cat-and-mouse approach; chasing the latest change with tweaks to search marketing strategies. This strategy always leaves dealers a step behind, and misses the true point of being relevant on the web. The better approach is to focus instead on regularly delivering great content. A good example of where to apply this lays within Fixed Operations pages of dealership websites. Many dealers find themselves still stuffing relevant fixed ops keywords on these pages, in an attempt to gain favor for page 1 SERP. When searching for the top fixed ops keywords in major markets, I found dealers ranking higher when discussing customer pain points on these pages. Using the fixed ops section of a dealership’s site to focus on the benefits of changing your own oil, or the importance of regular brake maintenance positions the dealer as the authoritative source on these topics, while still covering the necessary keywords. A dealership’s website pages should be full of great content from the various automotive experts at that dealership. Keywords are still important, but they are much better used strategically and tactically when incorporated as part of the complete content delivery.
Similar to dealership websites, effective social media strategies must always incorporate great content. It is that content that compels your social media audience to Like, Comment, and Share what your dealership has to say. A lot of dealers try to simply rely on the available OEM assets for social media content creation. Even worse, dealers use their Facebook Fan Page to only try to sell cars or services, posting nothing but inventory, sales and specials. Effective automotive social content needs to be a balance of authentic, personal, emotional, and needs to match the culture of the dealership. There is nothing wrong with sprinkling in some sales-related posts, but dealership staff shouldn’t solely rely on OEM retread content, or vehicle product or sales related information. Dealers must tap into effective ways to corral all of the day-to-day experiences of the dealership and share it with consumers. Some of the best content may be found “behind the scenes”. For instance, show your audience what your service technicians go through on a daily basis, or the great community work your staff takes part in, or the fun kids are having in your child play area.
Once you have an idea of what type of content you want to collect, and who might help collect it, you are faced with the question of “How?” One of the biggest challenges dealers face is collecting, consolidating, and categorizing all of this great content into a single area for posting. Dealership sales people taking pictures of happy customers, service techs capturing videos of new equipment, managers capturing community work they are doing, or the owners snapping pictures at trade shows, are all examples of social media content collected by dealerships daily. Some dealers use DropBox (or similar offerings) as a way to consolidate all of this content at the dealership. This way, teams can deposit pictures, videos, links or articles for future posting. Once collected in DropBox, an editor at the dealership sifts through these assets, looking for relevant content to post on a daily basis. There are also some great content capturing tools coming on the market, designed specifically for car dealers, which not only capture and categorize the data, but automatically place them into a social syndication tool for quick posting to Facebook, Pinterest or Google+. Whatever method you choose, make sure you have a plan for effectively collecting, tagging, and posting this great local dealer content.
Going forward, I believe content will continue to be critically important on the web. In order for dealers to be relevant and found online, strong content strategies will be necessary. These strategies need to include what content to capture, how they will capture and tag it, and how this content will get properly posted to website or social media destinations. It may sound like a lot of work, but this investment will pay off nicely in the future in the form of clicks, Likes, leads and most importantly, sales!