Four Keys to a Successful Dealership Social Media Program

Every General Manager, Internet Manager, and Sales Manager has had the term; “Social Media” drilled into their heads over the past couple years. They’ve been told they need it. They’ve been told it’s a must have! Hence, they long for the perfect solution, the silver bullet, the magic program that will deliver on all the promise. The program that will set their store apart from all the others and make them a hero amongst mere mortal dealers.

The big question is; How? How can they ensure a return on their investment? How can they measure their results? Can they even measure the results?  Will they become the hero, or the goat by taking their store down the social media trail? Is there a simple strategy, template or method that will guarantee positive ROI and results?

The answers to these questions are not easy. There are no definite answers. There are no stead fast rules, no templates, no guarantees, less one. If you don’t implement a serious social media strategy, SOON, your dealership will suffer the consequences.

OK, so with that in mind, here are four critical keys to use when establishing your dealership’s social strategy:

Key #1: Think, I mean always think – What’s in it for me? And no I don’t mean what do you want to get from social media…rather what’s in it for your audience. Think about it really, on any given day does John Q Public in your town have any interest in your tire sale? Especially when you told him about your service deal yesterday, and that great used car on your lot the day before? Answer: NOPE! On the other hand, friends do love to hear what other friends have to offer. Give him what he wants – games, contests, points of interest happening in your town, and maybe, just maybe, he will want to see your tire sale information. The key point to remember, he gets to decide, not you. Give him what he wants!

Key #2: Have a plan – a plan that fits your dealership’s overall marketing strategy. Don’t have a clearly defined marketing strategy? Well probably best you find one of those, and then tailor your social media efforts around it. Consider people you want to hang out with. Do you go for the scatter-brain that is constantly popping off the most random of comments? Or, do you prefer a friend you can count on, one you can trust? If that’s a tough question to answer, remember, people buy from people they trust! So set your plan. Better yet, have a calendar, rather, several calendars. One that lays out your annual strategy and the community events your dealership gets involved with, another detailing the next quarter, and finally, one strictly focused on this month. Schedule your contests, your giveaways, your charity events, and yes your Big Sales around these calendars. The more detailed the better. The more closely aligned with your dealership’s true persona, the more real you will appear. After all, social media is all about being real.

Key #3: Make sure you have the skills to properly implement your social media strategy. If you don’t have them internally, hire an agency that does. Social media has become far too important to relegate it off to a college kid we hired, or the owners child. Think of it this way – if your dealership was donating a new scoreboard to the local high school, and the whole town was going to be there, would you send that college kid to speak at the unveiling? Of course not. Well your social media program is very much like that unveiling, only thing is it’s happening everyday. Having a Facebook page, knowing about Twitter, or using YouTube are not qualifications. Creativity, marketing savvy, an understanding of your dealership’s overall marketing and community goals, and the ability to express these things using the various tools and mediums are what will ensure a successful social media program. Make sure your dealership has the skills, or hire someone who does.

Key #4: Finally, get involved in the community! Social media is a marketing tool that requires a commitment. It requires collaboration with other businesses, community groups, and charities. Think of your social strategy this way – social media, if done properly, is the virtual equivalent to taking a daily stroll through your community, talking with other vendors, shaking hands with people you meet, and stopping along the way to help someone in need. In doing so you never asked anyone to buy from you, rather you made them feel like they should. You were there, you made them smile and laugh, sometimes you even cried with them. You were always there when the community needed help, promoting, sometimes donating, you were there. Mostly you were involved! Now with that thought in mind – when it is time to buy, where do you think the people of your community will turn? Will they turn to the dealer who actually did nothing wrong, but wasn’t as engaged, or will they turn to the friend they’ve made over the years? The friend who was always there? The friend who was INVOLVED?

Key Takeaway: Social media is exploding with users of all ages. As a savvy dealership you must focus your efforts where your audience is, creating interactions. These interactions will ultimately create noise, and noise will result in traffic – traffic that converts. These days, social sells. Be social!

Jennifer Schrader
National Sales Director
(231) 360-0730
Ignite XDS – It’s what we do best!
Visit Us on Facebook!

  1. Mike Fischer says:

    I am starting my own social media push for myself to prove I can implement social media at my own dealership. I am a fifty four year old college kid with forty years on the point! lol Ease up on the college kid stuff, most of the college kids I know can take apart your computer, put it back together, and then send the instructions to the Chinese! lol
    Blessings, Mike.

  2. Mike – I appreciate your comment!

    Yes I have also seen college kids do amazing and isane things; if that specific individual has never worked at a dealership, sold cars, been involved with dealership or doesn’t have a clue where to start can be the issue. That is part of that point. No dissing on the college kids at all. I am a recent graduate myself however have been in the car business for most of my life.

    I see still many social media experts that dealership hire within their organization and they created a friend page for the dealership…! Like their own comments and have minimal fans.

    Having the right individual create a successful dealership social media program is the effectives of a true success for the dealership themselves.

    Fifty four year old college kid… yup you are still a youngin! lol

    Let me know if you have any questions I would be more than happy to help!

    Have a great day Mike!

    Jennifer Schrader
    National Sales Director
    Ignite XDS – Why? It’s what we do best!

  3. Such a great post.
    Social media is such an interesting thing, because in some ways it is so simple – just be yourself, have fun with it, have conversations. But on the flip side, in order to make it “work” for a business, there needs to be a strategy in place, which is not something that most “entry level” social networkers would know how to implement.
    I’m curious to know what some of your favorite tools to help monitor your social networks are.

  4. Pamela – Thank you for liking the post! Fun & engaging is very big on social media!

    Yes a Strategy needs to be in place to help your business reap the benefits of the social benefits that can be received! If not, that is why we encourage business to hire an expert if they don’t know where to start or stay on top of it. This is way many of the fail because they don’t know what to do then they hand it off to someone within the business that doesn’t properly maintain it, keep up with it or doesn’t know how to engage with it.

    There are many tracking tools available, analytics etc. It comes down to what you are trying to track but most important of all is “Paying attention” “Having the dedicated experienced Team” and most of all “Common Sense”

    If those values are not set in place, the only one that gets damaged is the business themselves.

    I hope this helps Pamela and thank you for your post. It is far beyond appreciated!

    Jennifer Schrader

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