Are You Being Social?

Social media conjures all kinds of reactions from business owners, including Dealers – but it’s those with an ‘anti-social’ outlook who are being left behind.

Do you remember when the term social media first started to gain popularity? As is so often the case with the arrival of progressive and innovative breakthroughs in technology, social media as we know it had plenty of sceptics. Whilst many saw it as a passing fad, others never expected it to penetrate further than the teen-aged users who helped make it so popular. Though much like Kodak and its dismissal of digital camera technology, the nahsayers have been silenced and today you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t operate or engage with social media in some form or another.

Social Media is more than Facebook

Think social media, think Facebook right? It’s totally understandable that you would, especially considering that the company (worth more than 150 billion dollars) has infiltrated its links on most websites, not to mention its logo on marketing material, products, billboards, email signatures and even tattoos (Google it!).

But social media is way more than Facebook. In fact the broad definition of social media is: websites and online applications that allow people to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

As such, social media encompasses everything from blogs and content communities (like YouTube), to virtual social worlds such as Second Life.

What’s more, the history of ‘social media’ actually stretches as far back as the 70s, with the advent of the BBS (Bulletin Board System). BBS provided an online meeting place that allowed users to communicate with a central system as well as download files and interact with other users.

So whilst Facebook has helped pioneer social media as we know it today, it’s only one part in a much bigger picture.

People love to throw around statistics

Have you noticed that whenever the topic of social media is raised, so too come the inevitable statistics? Like that there are over 1.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook, or that over 6 billion hours of video is watched each month on YouTube, or that 500 million Tweets are sent per day on Twitter.

Impressive, no?

But what does this actually mean for you, the automotive dealer? If you post a video on YouTube, will it be viewed by millions of people? Or if you set up a Twitter account, will Twitter’s 271 million active monthly users all spring to action and follow you?

They probably won’t.

Whilst these statistics are impressive on a grand scale, they don’t say much about why and how social media can help your business succeed. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…

The top 4 social media channels for Dealers

These are our top 4 social media channels for Dealers, but beware: The only thing worse than pretending that social media doesn’t exist, is putting your business on centre stage and poorly managing its presence. Don’t foray into the online world unless you have the right internal or external resources at the helm. Now without further ado:

1. LinkedIn

In case you didn’t know, LinkedIn is a social media site aimed at professionals, and it’s now being used by more than 6 million people in Australia.

Set yourself up with a profile page and take the time to learn how to grow your network, connect with colleagues and reach out to potential business partners.

LinkedIn lets you showcase your professional skills and experience, so make sure your credentials are written in an interesting and attractive way. Aside from promoting yourself (and by extension, your business), LinkedIn provides an excellent platform to source new talent for your dealership as well as keep an eye on competitors.

Hot Tip: Don’t use your LinkedIn profile as you would for Facebook, keep things professional, and make a note of connecting with every new lead, business associate and supplier you meet.

2. Blogging

Setting up a regular blog for your business can increase customer loyalty, generate new leads and dramatically improve the ‘ranking’ of your website’s visibility on search engines.

Blogs should be ideally administered through your dealership website, and written in an engaging and concise way. From the arrival of new models, to dealership news, community events and helpful motoring advice, there’s a lot more to say than what you might initially think.

Like all social media management, quality written content and consistency will set you apart and define your success.

Hot Tip: Help your content go further and share your blogs across your other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

3. Facebook

The obvious social media platform, Facebook offers dealerships an exciting and interactive forum to reach and engage customers.

In fact, you can now ‘reach’ potential customers like never before, through Facebook’s sophisticated advertising software which helps you identify leads using incredibly specific demographics, interests and online activity.

Be sure to create and administer a ‘business page’ for your dealership (as opposed to a profile page) and ensure that your dealership’s reputation is left in capable hands. Using Facebook for personal use is a lot different to managing it for business, so be sure to hand over the reins to individuals or companies who know what they’re doing.

Hot Tip: If you’re handling Facebook in-house create a content calendar in advance, so you’re never short on updates, or, if you’re handing over management, stay involved in sourcing dealership news and images.

4. YouTube

Hopefully you’ve made it this far into the article – if you haven’t (not that you’ll be reading this), it may be because your attention span was exhausted.

It’s for this reason (and many others) that video has become so popular. Video appeals to more senses, keeps us engaged for longer and often delivers information much quicker than through words on-screen.

Starting a YouTube channel for your business and regularly posting videos such as new model introductions, instructional ‘how to’ clips and testimonials can do wonders for your branding. What’s more, videos are finding their way up search result pages, meaning they’re good for SEO too.

Hot Tip: Buy an inexpensive video camera for your dealership and encourage staff to take small videos that can be posted online – they don’t have to look like big budget films, as long as they’re informative and interesting.

Honorary mentions:

Both Twitter and Instagram also rate highly amongst social media websites and both can be used effectively for dealerships. Whilst Twitter relies on short bursts of text updates (Tweets) and more recently images, Instagram focuses primarily on photographs, offering users a whole range of filters to add style to their snaps.

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