Today’s automobile retailers face incredible challenges managing the content of every marketing message disseminated over literally infinite marketing channels from the closely controlled traditional advertising to the barely/rarely controlled posts and tweets of digital content in the form of videos, blogs, comments and reviews. You simply can’t control every dot and dash posted on your behalf, but you can ensure most of what is dispatched by members of your own team meets minimum branding requirements with written guidelines that are well communicated to all in your organization.
Social Media Has the Potential to Be the New ‘Business Card’
While it becomes increasingly difficult to convince younger sales people to hand out traditional printed business cards, these associates might be more inclined to reach out to friends and family through digital channels they are more comfortable with. The challenge is, unlike a printed business card with approved static language, social media postings and tweets are dynamic and difficult to monitor and manage.
A friend of mine who sells new and used vehicles, has achieved exceptional results with postings on his Facebook page, which reaches 5,000 friends. This friend posts pictures and short videos of vehicles. The used information includes mileage, condition and vehicle features. He does not post any pricing information, deferring that information to his phone number. He sells between 3-5 vehicles a week directly from the referrals on these Facebook listings.
“You simply can’t control every dot and dash posted on your behalf, but you can insure…minimum branding requirements with written guidelines.”
Conversely, I’ve heard from several dealers who have encountered major problems with salespeople making unauthorized claims without proper disclosure that have resulted in major headaches for the dealership, resulting in a policy of complete bans of any social media postings on anything other than authorized dealership sites and pages.
Should Team Members Post on Personal Pages?
Some dealerships encourage responsible posting by employees on the employees’ personal/individual social media accounts. Other dealerships strictly prohibit it. In my opinion, it should only be allowed on a specific permission basis where a dealership social media manager is aware of such posts and monitors every post with any reference to the dealership. If your dealership does allow employees to post articles and information, here are some basics:
Employee Digital Guidelines
There should be no unapproved Twitter, Facebook, blogs or other social media postings outside of specific guidelines without your compliance person’s approval. It should be clear that any violation is not only grounds for dismissal with cause, but may trigger legal action by the dealership.
- Any offer to sell (or lease) any vehicle at any specific terms (price, payment, down payment, credit approval and other terms).
- Any claim such as we are the biggest, the best, #1, or we sell for less.
- Any reference to proprietary information such as procedures, policy or training.
- Any reference of personal nature of any dealership personnel, management, ownership.
- Any reference of personal nature to customers or shoppers, including data and information obtained, with expectation of privacy. Any reference to an incident or action that may cause embarrassment or negative image of the dealership, its personnel, customers and shoppers.
Include examples of acceptable as well as non-acceptable posts.
Managing Video Content
Today’s generation of consumer-pro (GO-PRO) video cameras and the exceptional video quality of most cell phones have made just about everyone a ‘videographer.’ But that doesn’t mean they are ready for primetime. Just a few basics can dramatically improve the quality and professionalism of video content.
Every video should have a purpose. Don’t just turn on the camera and start rolling, hoping for something that makes sense. Whether it’s a vehicle walk-around, customer satisfaction testimonial or a service department promotion, write a brief synopsis/script of what you’re trying to accomplish, along with scene descriptions.
Keep it short and compelling. Many of today’s most popular YouTube videos are less than a minute. Get to the point quickly. Lead with the most important points. It’s very hard to keep viewers engaged for more than three minutes. If you have a lot of content…break the video into several shorter videos and ‘tease’ for continued viewing.
Make sure the ‘quality’ of video is decent. No one likes ‘shaky’ home movies with lousy sound. Use a tripod. Consider extra lighting and a smartphone-compatible microphone and/or directional microphone to eliminate a lot of room noise. If videos will be used on a regular basis for website, social media and email promotion, the dealership should consider a reasonable investment in equipment and training to optimize the quality.
Editing and titles. While just about anyone can videotape today, it’s a good idea to find someone who can put the finishing touches on a video project with transitions and titling.
Author: Jim Boldebook
JIM BOLDEBOOK is Founder of CBC Automotive Marketing, an advertising/marketing agency working with some of America’s most successful dealerships. He has been in the broadcasting, advertising and marketing fields for almost 50 years. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org