|Social networking in the automobile industry is starting to take roots and will propel the industry ahead. Social networking is nothing new to anyone who has had an Internet connection for more than 30 days; almost all of our online activities incorporate some level of networking.
The core of any business is to attract more customers, while social networking by design is a means to start conversations. Using social networking to grow your business can come in many different forms.
1. You can attract customers by making new connections.
2. You can retain customers by finding out what they really think about you and addressing any deficiencies.
3. You can exchange ideas with others—find out what they are doing to build their business and let them know what you are doing to build yours.
Industry leaders are learning to build their brand using social networking by allowing their people to connect with others and placing brand awareness where it belongs, in the minds and hands of the ones who represent them on a day-to-day basis—the people who use their products. It allows them to become the hunted, not the hunter, and capitalizes on the law of attraction while improving their competence at marketing themselves and their company's corporate brand.
Social networking takes on many forms. Most people think of MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn when the topic of social networking comes up. While they are all valuable tools on the surface and do provide a level of connection, there are many other ways to network online—blogs, your Web site, review sites and industry-specific networks, just to name a few. These resources also will contribute to your search engine reputation management and off-site search engine optimization for your corporate Web site, in addition to engaging others.
When you start to build your online networking brand, you need to be very cautious on how you present yourself to these communities. Use your own picture, use a phone number where people can reach you directly and be respectful in your communications. Remember, if you would not want your mother to see what you have said or written, you are probably better off not putting something out there that someone else’s mother may see.
Having a space to call your own is as important as belonging in a space bigger than yourself and contributing, helping and seeking knowledge to build your business. This can be accomplished through the use of blogs, building your profiles at various networking sites and utilizing different forms of user-generated content. This can be an arduous process, but the best analogy to use when starting on this journey is to remember, “You can eat an elephant one bite at a time.”
Friendships can be built and customers can be gained through online interactions and your contributions to a community. Once you become an active participant in these types of communities you will be amazed at the number of contacts you will receive from people wanting your advice, giving you advice and seeking out your services. If you participate with the right motivation (not money), you’ll be amazed at the real return on investment realized for your time.
The best way to build brand awareness online is through your people. The best way to keep your clients happy is to encourage conversation. The best way to learn what others are doing to improve their business is a free-flow exchange of ideas. The best way to learn online networking is to join the party!
Get involved and build your brand.
Auto retail veteran and F&I products expert Paul McCarthy has joined AUL Corp. as vice president of national sales.