What happened? It seems like it was just yesterday that our world was filled with unicorns and rainbows. We heard lots of advice on love your customers, engage them in conversation and poof!…they would magically appear in your showroom. There were a lot of unsubstantiated ideas about social media put forth on the unaware dealer. Expectations grew, thinking the medium was free.
Today, we’ve all come down to earth. The dreams of fluffy clouds and rainbows with unicorns jumping over them are over. Facebook is now a public company and we’ve recognized that the consumer is in charge. Dealerships get educated more and more every day and reality is sinking in. The concept of “free” social media has vanished. We know now it takes time, a budget and hard work. That includes integrating social business across your entire company.
I see some dealers still with expectations. This is due mainly to some avoidance and misunderstanding. Dealers generally don’t spend time on social networks as users and that can put you at a disadvantage when talking to vendors or knowing how to hold staff accountable.
There are a lot of things social media can do for your company but today, let’s talk about three things it will never do:
1. Make up for a bad customer experience. As the saying goes, “If you suck in real life, you will suck on social media.” Nielsen just reported that the most trusted form of advertising is a “Recommendation from someone I know.” The close second is “Consumer opinions posted online.” (Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey Q3 2011). If your business is delivering a less-than-stellar customer experience, be prepared to have that amplified on social media.
2. Drive traffic to your door by simply announcing how great you are. The old model of advertising was a one-way broadcast to the masses. An audience would hear your message and eventually someone would buy from you. The advertising noise is deafening now. Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages every minute of their day.
Consequently, people have become apathetic to what you have to sell and keenly interested in who you are. If you’re broadcasting boring stuff, your messages get lost in all the other noise. Don’t be the only one talking about your store. Deliver interesting, relevant content to your audience so they feel a connection to you. Motivate your happy, loyal customers to talk about you. That’s where you have the most impact.
Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Social media marketing is showing the world that you are one.
3. Deliver immediate sales. Building relationships takes time. However, leads from those relationships are far more ready to buy than the ones you typically see. I hear a lot of dealers say, “You can’t sell cars on social media.” Don’t believe that for a minute. When you’re doing it right, you generate leads and close sales. It just doesn’t happen the way you’re used to seeing it. Instead of chasing the next new customer, I propose slowing down, taking a look at your established community and engage them with your store (like you do in real life). You won’t believe what you can find out by just listening.
Social media marketing is not for amateurs. This is a whole different way of interacting with people and it’s time to get familiar. Find a person who’s immersed in social marketing to help guide you and your staff.
What social media will for you is genuinely connect you with customers in your market area on a regular basis. Email inboxes get bombarded. Voicemail goes into never-never land. Yet your customer is available on social media all the time, so take advantage of that opportunity. The old adage of “touch the prospect seven times before they buy” is true. When people like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, they’re choosing to spend time with you. Make the most of it. Each and every time you connect counts.