This month, Dealer Marketing Magazine introduces a new feature: Learn From the Experts, a spotlight for industry thought leaders to share their expertise in their own words. Each month, a different industry category will be featured, and top professionals from leading companies in that niche will offer their philosophy in a nutshell about that particular topic, as well as their best advice for how dealers can succeed in it.
The ever-important category of Social Media Marketing kicks off our Learn From the Experts feature. Our two experts on the subject, Alexi Venneri and Michael Sos, are veterans of a combined three decades of automotive experience, with particular emphasis on marketing, technology, and social media.
Digital Air Strike
YEARS IN AUTOMOTIVE/ACHIEVEMENTS: 15+ years of automotive, marketing, and technology experience. In 2010, she co-founded Digital Air Strike, the automotive social media and digital engagement company, which has been recognized as:
- Top 10 Most Interesting and Innovative Automotive Companies
- #1 Dealers’ Choice for Reputation Management
- Inc. Fastest-Growing Private Companies
- Red Herring North America Top 100
- Top 3 CEO’s in Phoenix Business Journal’s Top Tech Exec Awards
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING PHILOSOPHY: It’s no longer “if” dealers should have a social media marketing plan. They must. I co-founded Digital Air Strike because as I was helping large dealers and dealership groups it became increasingly important to leverage consumer generated content and to find new digital mediums to engage with prospects/customers. Today, social media and reputation management are the most effective, cost-efficient, and measurable ways of reaching consumers.
“Search” is social, so businesses need to know how they look online in the social networks and in organic search. That includes online review sites. The best way for dealers to increase their star ratings and “drive down” bad reviews is to make it easier for happy customers to share positive feedback. Digital Air Strike built our patented Review Surge technology so dealers could connect with customers seamlessly and act on their feedback while making it easy for happy customers to share positive feedback publicly while within the survey process. Dealerships can increase reviews by 15+/month with the average star rating increasing to 4.6 of 5 stars within 90 days.
One of the fastest growing components of social media marketing is social advertising—because it works! Dealers need to allocate part of their advertising budgets to social ads. They are relatively low cost, highly targeted, and provide the best ROI I’ve seen. They cost about one-twelfth of the average Google PPC campaign. Our clients are consistently increasing sales and leads with minimal social ad spends.
Dealers should designate or hire someone to handle their social media with clear guidelines around content and response times/quality—just like you would for lead response. It’s too important to treat as an afterthought. Social media can drive its own ROI and enhance every other marketing channel and dollar spent.
QUOTE: “Search is social, and social is how more people are starting to search.”
Product Manager Reputation and Social Media
Dominion Dealer Solutions
YEARS IN AUTOMOTIVE/ACHIEVEMENTS: I have 17 years of experience, starting in the late ’90s, working on websites at IBM. My love of the auto business started in early 2000s, when I began working with dealerships. Over the years I have helped develop digital advertising, lead management, loyalty marketing, and social media solutions for dealers. Some of the tools my teams have developed now power thousands of dealerships.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING PHILOSOPHY: I believe in using social media as an advertising medium focused on driving automotive-centric metrics. I don’t think average customers want to be “friends” with a car dealership, but they do want shop and do research. Our job as social marketers is to bring our products (the cars on the lot) to where consumers congregate, create awareness, and a simple path for them to become shoppers.