According to the latest “State of Social Media” report by Awareness (info.awarenessnetworks.com/The-State-Of-Social-Media-Marketing.html), 2012 will usher in an increased use of social marketing platforms beyond the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn). New channels and networks being considered by marketers will include: Blogs (91 percent) YouTube (86 percent), foursquare (59 percent), SlideShare (43 percent), Flickr (50 percent), and Tumblr (30 percent). Companies are clearly beginning to see the need to reach out through as many networks as possible to engage and entice shoppers. As a result, marketers will need to navigate an increasingly fragmented social media scene in 2012 and it will become imperative to find tools to help make sense of the white noise.
Beyond simply these new channels, there are also a number of other social media (SM) trends we see coming to dealerships in 2012:
Monitoring Has Arrived
While many dealers realize they need to be on social media and invest in digital marketing campaigns, they still feel the pinch when it comes to hiring the right person to create the content and monitor Twitter, Facebook, rating sites, and others. According to several marketers, 2012 will be the year monitoring tools and software will explode. Dealerships will find third parties offering more monitoring and content tools to help busy principals stay on top of all media feeds at once—with the ability to respond instantly. Many will even enable dealers to pinpoint a “radius of influence” around their SM campaigns so the internet sales manager focuses their efforts around core prospects.
Content Creation Will Evolve
There is a need for great content in every channel, making the right message at the right time an even more difficult concept to master. Marketers are beginning to move beyond the games and giveaways stage on Facebook and Twitter and really zeroing in on what their individual audience wants to receive from the dealership. A “like” on Facebook only goes so far if the person pressing the like button never really engages with the dealership. In addition to adding valuable content, coupons, and promotions, smart digital dealers now use content to help encourage positive word of mouth through the posting of positive reviews, testimonials and community photos, videos, and stories on their Facebook pages.
ROI Measurement Will Advance
While the measurement of social presence (number of likes, follows, comments, etc.) has been the mainstay for measuring social media ROI, this year should bring about a growing awareness of other ways to gauge the success of these campaigns. Using Google Analytics and other tools can help digital marketers analyze which content is creating the highest amount of engagement and where visitors are dropping off. Beyond site visits, many SM providers now offer drill-down analytics to help digital dealerships determine everything from lead generation to coupon print-outs to the “value” of a comment over a like. This type of “lead scoring” for comments and those interacting with the dealership brand will prove invaluable to digital marketers and will help determine where a dealership can get the most bang for their buck.
While we are sure there are other trends on the horizon, one thing is clear: social media marketing is a growing field and has yet to fully evolve. We expect to see additional growth this year in the way dealer marketers provide content, monitor their brand through social networks, and measure the success of their campaigns.
Matt Buchanan is the principal at Sarasota Ford and co-founder of Dealers United, www.dealersunited.com, and can be reach at [email protected]. An upcoming deal offered through the company is expected to include social media marketing. To become a member of Dealers United at no cost, visit www.dealersunited.com.
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