ROI. It's the biggest reason that dealers who are not using social media cite when declaring why they aren't doing it. Social media is an investment of time at the very minimum, and with so many products and services popping up left and right, it can also be a drain on the advertising budget. Is there a return on these investments?

For many, the answer is no. It isn't that the answers aren't out there; there's more content on the Internet about social media than just about any other form of marketing. The problem is that there are too many answers, too many opinions, and too much data clouding the skies and making it challenging for experts, let alone business owners, to come to a consensus.

When looking at dealers who have demonstrated success, two key points came to light.

1) Less noise is better. Just as in the early days of SEO when claims were made of "getting listed in thousands of search engines," social media is seeing a similar claim, "Get involved in hundreds of social media sites." Guess what? Just as Google, Yahoo! and Bing are all you need for search, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all you really need for social media.

2) You can do it. We would be fools to declare that you can't do it all yourself without help, services, or products.

All you need is to keep these 7 Keys in mind.

1) Stick to the Basics. Facebook has the bulk. It's where everyone is going to share, engage and learn. Twitter is so darn simple that if done right, it can be worked well in less than 30 minutes per week. YouTube is the visual component that enhances everything from your blog to your Facebook page. An argument can be made for blogging, Foursquare, Tumblr and a handful of other quality emerging social media components, but if you stick to the basics you'll do just fine.

2) Look Professional. Customizing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is not terribly difficult. If you only make a minimal financial investment into social media, it should be to have a strong Facebook banner and landing page, a professional-looking Twitter background, and a YouTube channel that promotes your brand.

3) Talk About Your Dealership Brand and Manufacturer. We often have a tendency to avoid talking about our manufacturers' brands. It's easy to discuss your dealership, but spreading news occasionally that comes from or is about the manufacturers can help your current customers keep up-to-date and help your social media presence become a resource. If you're a Nissan dealer, you should be discussing the Leaf and Juke, for example.

4) Talk Locally. People in northern California and Texas were talking baseball during the World Series. Anything that's happening in your city, whether it's a festival, sporting event or concert, should be discussed on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Avoiding politics and religion are acceptable, but you should be discussing just about everything else in your local area.

5) Engage Daily. Even if you simply want a basic representation on social media, you should be spending 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Three Facebook updates plus replies to others' posts and three to five Twitter updates should be part of your daily routine, just as e-mail is. On YouTube, a new video once a week is good (depending on resources), but you can stretch it as thin as once a month if necessary.

6) Follow Other Dealers. We learn best from our peers. Find everyone you can who seems to be "doing it right" and follow them. Mimic them. Enhance what you learn and make it better on your own social media presence.

7) Build Advocates. It's important to be talking about yourself, but it's better to have other people talking about you. If you only do one thing, it should be to make certain your sales, service, parts and finance departments are encouraging happy customers to tell their friends, particularly on Facebook. When someone's friends, family and coworkers see Suzie posting a picture of her shiny new car, the first question they'll ask is, "Where did you get it?"

Social media is not difficult, but it can be a challenge. Applying the right principals and staying disciplined is the overall key to succeeding now and into 2011.

Vol. 7, Issue 12

About the author
J.D. Rucker

J.D. Rucker

Director of New Media

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