Okay, you’ve decided to plunge into social media. However, before you get started setting up your dealership Facebook pages, twitter accounts, and blog sites, you have some decisions to make.
One of the first decisions a store carrying more than one nameplate faces is whether their Facebook and other social media pages will encompass all their brands, or if they should do a separate page for each nameplate. Determining how to set up these pages is something you need to seriously consider before you start setting them up, because, unlike a website, Twitterand Facebookdon’t offer a way to transfer data between accounts and likely won’t in the future since this is an opt-in program and it may be against privacy laws to move customers from one account to the other. So once these sites are set up, it is almost impossible to change the name of your fan or brand pages. So no matter what you do, don’t rush through this process.
Separating the accounts has the advantage that a “die hard” customer for one of your brands may like the site better if it is separate. A second issue is if one brand becomes much more “disliked” than the other by the community. On the other hand, having separate accounts dilutes the overall social media effort; if you post three times a day on one account, that account will have three entries a day, but if you have three different accounts, then each account only gets one post per day.
Whichever direction you decide to go, it is important to understand how your social media program fits into your overall dealership marketing efforts. You should not treat your Facebook pages and other social media sites the same way you treat your radio, television, or print advertising. The goal of social media is not to merely repeat the kind of marketing you are already doing (typically listing cars and having monthly specials). A well managed social media site should create customer engagement, user interaction, and otherwise humanize your brand.
Think of your social media pages as community pages about your dealership, your people, and what makes your store different. If this sounds like a lot more work than just listing the cars you have for sale, it is! A well executed social media strategy, however, provides a unique opportunity to engage potential customers in way not previously available and clearly produces a positive return for the time and resources spent.
We’ll talk more about how to most effectively manage and monitor the success of your social media sites on an ongoing basis in the next issue.
Ed Steenman is owner of Steenman Associates, a traditional and new media strategies firm. Ed represents a variety of auto dealerships and dealer groups throughout the U.S. For information and more case studies, visit www.Steenmanassociates.com
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