Social Media isn’t for Every Dealer but it May be for You

February 18th, 2013 by

Vintage Studebaker Ad

Here’s a stark truth that may make some of our competitors, employees at Facebook, and even some of my own employees a little upset: car dealers don’t need social media marketing to be successful. Search, proper website maintenance, display ads, reputation management, and mobile marketing may all have a claim of being more important that social media when it comes to driving leads and foot traffic to a dealership.

There, I said it. Now let’s talk about what social media really means to car dealers.

Those who have most of their ducks in a row and are hitting on all 8 cylinders with their other marketing efforts can dramatically improve their exposure, lead potential, foot traffic, and customer communication by implementing a proper social media strategy into their dealership’s online marketing portfolio. It’s not a shortcut. It isn’t easy. It also isn’t as hard as many make it out to be and it can be extremely rewarding from an ROI perspective when done right.

Take a look at your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, and the other parts of your social media presence. Can you say that they’re making an impact on your branding? Are you reaching people with your message? Are people able to reach you through social media if they have compliments, complaints, questions, or concerns? Once you know these answers, you can determine whether or not social media is really right for you.

Here’s the reality: a mediocre social media presence is only slightly better than having no presence at all. Having no presence at all is actually better than having a bad social media presence. Without a willingness to put in the effort, time, and money into social media, the chances of success are small. It’s one of those things where you’re either “all in” or you’re out.

There’s nothing wrong with maintaining a basic presence for those who are only finding your social media profiles through search or through your website. This type of “PR-only” presence can work if you lack either the desire or the resources to make your social media strategy a strong one. It checks off the box so to speak. The problem with the industry today and the reason that I’m writing this is that since I’ve been 100% focused on automotive social media for the last 8 months (prior to that I’ve worked on general social media promotions in and out of the automotive industry since 2007), one thing that I’ve discovered is that most dealers fall somewhere in between having a check-box presence and having a robust social media strategy. This is social media “no man’s land” where the effort is more than what should be put in for a basic PR-only presence but isn’t enough to have a truly robust presence that is driving leads and foot traffic to the dealership.

Long story short – pick a side. Either go in or tone it down. Resting somewhere in the middle with one foot through the door and the other dangling out the other end will not make you successful but is too much effort for a basic presence. A little green man once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” It applies in automotive social media nicely.

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