Five Steps to a Successful Social Media Program
This month, we’re going to focus on five things auto dealerships need to know to best engage their audiences or communities in the social media space.
Think long term
There is much more to social media than just setting up a page and logging some posts. Social media is about conversation. It's about creating credibility and building a lasting image for your dealership. Have a plan; know what you want your social media program to accomplish before you start. Most importantly, think long term, the benefit you get from your social media program will be exactly in line with the amount of effort and time you commit on it.
Start by listening
Social media is not outbound messaging—its real value is in two-way communication. Try to find the center of what your community wants and how they want to engage you? For most dealerships, people are either interested in the nameplate or want to find out more about more about what type of business you are, your values, and how you treat your customers. Read between the lines. What do they want from you? And what do they want to tell you?
Develop your voice
Like entering any real life social situation, there is an art to starting conversations. Don't just jump in to a venue and start posting, instead focus your efforts narrowly and consider the array of places your audience may be. Avoid becoming a "chatterer" (that annoying guy at the party everyone seeks to avoid) and instead welcome participants into the conversation. Listen and be responsive. Be real. Never attempt to disguise who you are or who you represent when you post something or engage in a conversation. If you have vested interest disclose it—better yet be passionate about it! Someone who clearly shows they have a passion for something, and speaks passionately about it, will win the respect of the community. Remember: This is not the time to include any kind of marketing messages or selling points. The first sign that you are "just trying to sell them something" and your credibility will suffer. This is about building community, not funneling them through the sales process.
At the end of the day, your site, postings, and interactions all need to work together to create value for your audience. Look at it this way: your Facebook fans base have publicly raised their hands to say they like your products and/or services. There are many approaches to take these audiences to the next level such as offering mailing lists, surveys, or even member events can get your social audience to the next stage of engagement with you.
Find ways to continuously seek feedback from your community and be sure that you are fulfilling the audience's needs. This is an excellent evaluation technique for you as a social media marketer or community manager. If your audience is genuine, they will give you good feedback on how you can help them further and make your product or service better for them.