Consumer Generated Content Based Strategies for Car Dealers
This is one of those topics in which everyone will have an opinion. Some will agree in part and disagree with other components, but the hope is to stir up some discussion on the topic. We've tested these ideas and continue the constant flow of more testing; social media is always changing.
Before going much further, it's extremely important to understand one aspect of this list that is universal, particularly in the automotive industry. Time is the primary factor. If someone came to me and asked me to devise a comprehensive strategy that a full-time social media marketing employee could implement and manage, it would be different from what I've put below. Blogging, for example, is an afterthought in the list below as it can be extremely time-consuming to do properly, but if there's a full-timer handling social media, blogging would jump from the bottom to the top.
Conversely, those who have no time at all and are squeezing in 5 minutes a day at the most would also need a more streamlined strategy.
These suggestions are for the average dealer who an employee such as the internet manager squeezing in 20 minutes to an hour a day into their social media strategy. Technically, this could fill up more than an hour a day if more attention is paid to vetting content on other pages, sharing, and commenting, but we'll assume those activities, high-value though they are, fall into the category of "if you have time between all of the other things you have to do every day."
Here's the hierarchy as I see it:
This one is the no-brainer on the list. If you only have time to do one thing in social media, it would be Facebook. They have the traction. They have the attention of your customers. They have the exposure.
You should be posting 1-3 pieces of content at a minimum to your dealership Facebook pages, even on weekends. More is better but don't overdo it. Don't crowd your posts, either. In other words, don't fill the three-a-day requirement by stacking three posts on top of each other. They have to be spread out.
This is probably the most controversial positioning on the hierarchy. There are still plenty of dealership who don't even have a Google+ page. Some think they have a Google+ page because they have a Google Local profile that's tied into Google+, but if you're not posting content socially, you don't really have a valid business page.
Rather than explaining why it's important and so high on the list (that is a complete blog post of its own), let me explain why you should do it even if you're not a believer. It doesn't add much time. If you are posting to Facebook, posting the same exact content to Google+ adds a couple of minutes of work if you're slow.
For most dealers going into 2013, Twitter seems to be a "check box item". In other words, if they have their Facebook and other social profiles feeding into their Twitter account, then they're Twitter is covered. This isn't exactly true.
Twitter should have the highest frequency of posts. You will want to post things to Twitter much more often than the other networks. Thankfully, you can use the other networks to streamline the tweeting efforts. One thing that very few dealers are doing well is actually engaging with others on Twitter. For the most part, Twitter is a defensive tool. You want your Twitter profile to appear active and engaging to those who visit it from your website. You want people with problems to hit you on Twitter for resolutions. It's the safest network from an exposure perspective to receive complaints, so encouraging interaction by simply engaging with others will make that possible.
It's not for every dealer. There's no need to have an active YouTube channel just for the sake of having an active YouTube channel. If you aren't making videos, don't force it by simply posting other people's videos. An inactive YouTube account can do more harm than good. Either do it or don't. Nothing in between.
This is higher on the list than others for the same reason that Google+ is so high - it's easy. We did a webinar on Tumblr a while back and the reasoning there still applies today. It can help with SEO, reputation management, and exposure and does not require a ton of extra effort to make it effective.
Some say that Pinterest is on the decline. They are correct to some measure, but that doesn't make it less valuable (yet). Today, the passions of the users are still strong and having an active Pinterest presence can have an impact. Again, like Google+ and Tumblr, Pinterest is also too easy to skip.
Many people are unfamiliar with Scoop.It now, but they won't be unfamiliar forever. It's the next big thing, similar to Pinterest in some ways but with a more business-oriented demeanor and functionality. Please contact me directly if you have an questions about Scoop.It - early adopters will be thankful that they did it.
Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Instagram can be valuable if they are worked in properly with the dealership's marketing efforts. They are "tweeners" in that they are really better applied by the advanced, time-capable dealership employees who can afford to take a stab at them, but if you're going to keep anything out of your social media strategy for the sake of time, it would be these three.
* * *
Again, there are plenty of perspectives that surround any list like this. I would love to hear your perspective or answer any question you may have about the individual networks or the strategy required to make them work properly for your dealership.