Why Google Maps & Waze will Crush GPS

Google’s $1.1 billion acquisition of Waze this past summer continues to be big news.  Waze, by crowd-sourcing mapping and navigation, is changing how we commute and how we shop.  Google wanted Waze since they were both in the Search business.  Google searches the web.  Waze searches the real world.  Unlike Google Maps, Waze’s navigation can be edited by users within its community- adding police alerts, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams.  This social mapping content is shared by other drivers, in real time, and is very valuable: drivers already use it on a constant basis to find the cheapest gas stations on their routes.  By joining forces, Google Maps/Waze combines the power of Google’s individual user data, search history, and Google+ social data  to offer laser targeting recommendations and advertising.

For OEMs and automotive dealers, this has several implications, as the panel will discuss.  First, the OEM or dealer that dominates the search and mapping screens on smartphones and tablets, along with providing targeted ads based on the users’ intentions, will win.  Second, for OEMs and dealers layering customer data onto the new database, the mobile search experience will direct consumers to local dealers for service or sales.  Third, consumers shopping for cars can be alerted when matching inventory is nearby, or offered fixed ops deals or incentives.  Fourth, OEMs will want to rethink current GPS strategies, opting for a Google/Waze GPS that’s tied to the consumer’s social network and search preferences.  This provides a more robust experience to both the OEM and local dealerships, with the opportunity to create targeted advertising to consumers during the moment of decision.  If combined with vehicle telemetrics systems, this software-based solution could determine service needs (oil changes, vehicle recalls, etc) and prompt drivers to local dealerships running special promotions through Google/Waze.

3rd Party Plug-ins Need Responsive Design

If you haven’t seen and learned about the power of Responsive Web Design, you’re missing a great new piece of digital marketing technology.  Responsive Design throws out the idea of mobile websites, and instead builds a multi-device-capable platform around a single website.

My company offers Responsive Websites, and I’m learning that others providers are also entering this exciting space.  For our automotive dealer customers, the benefits are enormous with sites that offer better consumer experiences, improved SEO and Social capabilities, and also also easier to maintain.

The next challenge for Responsive Website Design in the automotive space is convincing our 3rd Party Plug-in Providers that they also need to embrace this technology.  I am referring to the many plug-ins for pricing, chat, online negotiation and financing that currently are built around desktop and mobile websites.  When a Responsive Website attempts to plug-in some of these 3rd party modules, the consumer experience is not always consistent, with chat or pricing windows appearing in varied styles on smart phones and tablets.

Clearly some standardization around Responsive techology is needed for 3rd parties creating website modules, and Dominion is willing to help lead this charge.

What do you think?  Any 3rd Party Plug-in providers ready to dive in?

Why both Vine & Instagram are Right

For Social media video, the last few weeks have been very interesting.   Until the June 20 Instagram video launch, Twitter’s Vine app had become the recent darling of Social Media Video.  Vine, with their 6-second video format, is one of the largest app growth stories in recent history.  In the newest Internet Trends Report by Mary Meeker, Vine’s active user base grew from 2% to nearly 8% of iPhone owners in the U.S. between January and April.  I was among those quickly addicted to Vine videos, creating content, checking my feed almost as much as my other social sites.  When Instagram launched their 15-second version of a Vine-like app, the buzz around short social media video clips grew enormously, and both Instagram and Vine have since benefited.

Social media-influenced video continues to soar in popularity.  Online video audiences are projected to double in 2016, reaching 1.5 billion people globally, according to Cisco.  A study by comScore found that in April 2013, 63 million people in the U.S. watched a video on Facebook, and that among major websites, Facebook had the fastest-growing online video audience over the previous 10 months, and is only second to Google in video audience size.

There is also an evolution occurring on this content medium…video length is shrinking.  Face it, many of us have short attention spans, and we’re not willing to commit to watching a lengthy YouTube video.  Increasingly in our busy lives, we prefer to snack on video during short spans of times (waiting for our Starbucks, in between baseball innings).  I would argue that the 6-second constraint of Vine, or the 15 seconds for Instagram, forces content creators to focus on quick messaging, and quality, within those precious few seconds.  If the user likes that they see, they may be willing to watch more quick videos from this source, or potentially follow them.

 

For businesses who want succeed in social media-influence video, whether that is YouTube, Vine or Instagram, the message is to “keep it brief”.  Studies show that shorter the videos get higher user engagement throughout the entire video segment.  If you focus on producing short videos with great content, your audience will view them more…and share them more.  Businesses can be successful with gaining engagement on shorter social media videos by capturing catchy, compelling and high quality content, while cutting out the fluff and instead getting straight to the message.

So who is right and who will win, Vine or Instagram?  I believe they both will, since they are embracing the trend for quick snippets of video content, that delivers both delivers their message and encourages sharing and engagement.

How Local Dealers are Performing on Facebook Search

I recently audited how nearby car dealerships are performing on Facebook Graph Search.  Since my first article on best practices, I’ve talked to many local dealers who have tuned their pages for better performance.  Let’s dig in.

In Graph Search, I entered the string: “Car dealerships nearby”.  As a reminder, Car Dealerships is a fixed automotive category in GS, along with Automotive Repair, Oil Lube & Filter Service, Car Parts & Accessories, and Auto Body Shop.

Not surprisingly, the Jeff Wyler family of dealerships did well.  They have talented digital marketing folks, and have optimized their Facebook pages and built local engagement very well.  I was happy to see they are maximizing the number of allowable categories (up to three).  They’re also focusing on quality social engagement, not just number of Likes.

I charted some key statistics for the GS Page 1 dealers, and looked for clues on Facebook’s search algorithm.  As expected, the number of Likes is not the determiner of ranking.  It seems to be a combination of factors, with heavy weighting on “People Talking About This” and the number of Friends in your network that have Liked these pages.

Dealer

Likes

PTAT

Were Here

Friends liked

Categories

Jeff Wyler Honda of Colerain

524

47

1,670

1

3

Beechmont Ford

1,295

25

861

12

2

Superior Honda

4,062

19

320

13

1

Porsche of Kings Automall

78

2

157

0

1

Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

1,656

16

164

7

3

Superior Kia

2,062

13

198

6

1

Northgate Ford Lincoln

1,208

227

309

1

1

Jake Sweeney Chevrolet

678

12

195

2

1

Jake Sweeney Mazda West

69

1

78

0

3

Lexus RiverCenter

2,327

13

739

1

1

Superior Hyundai South

1,034

4

110

6

3

Please share your comments after looking at these results, and your local search results.  What best practices are you seeing that impact Facebook Search rankings?

5 Reasons to Hate Your Mobile Website

On January 9 2007 Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention, and started a revolution in the way people consumed the web.   As Apple and their competitors began shipping millions of smartphones to the masses, the need for websites compatible with the smaller screen became critical.  The website world responded with a “mobile website”.  The mobile website was designed as a separate site, that would be served up when it detected the user was on a mobile device.  Then on January 27, 2010, Steve Jobs again changed the rules by announcing the iPad introduction at an Apple press conference, and website providers scrambled to update their strategy.

Many dealers still have these old mobile websites.  Folks, your mobile website is a 2007 solution to a 2013 problem, and you should hate it for the following reasons:

Reason 1:  You’re spending too much money.  Logic tells us, if we build both a desktop site and a mobile site, it will cost more than building a single website.  In addition, that same logic tells us if we have to maintain two websites, it will take more time versus one site.   Maintaining two sites also introduces the chance for errors, omissions, and situations where the two sites have different data.  Save your time and money by building one Responsive website.

Reason 2:  Your SEO is not what it could be.  Both Google and Bing are on record, they prefer a single Responsive website instead of multiple sites.  For the search engines, a single website means indexing is easier, and increases the likelihood of delivering the desired content to the user.  With multiple sites, your inbound linking strategy becomes confusing.  Which links should you work to build, ones to your desktop or mobile site?  The choice is clear, a single Responsive website results in superior SEO.

Reason 3:  You’ve got 2 website addresses.  Remember we said it was a band-aid approach, and having both a mobile and desktop website is a sloppy solution that delivers poor results.  What happens if a desktop user Facebook-shares a page on your main website, but mobile shoppers click on the links?  Redirects happen, and many times they happen poorly, delivering the wrong pages to the user and increasing abandon rate. have different addresses.  Responsive gives you consistency, one site with same content and same experience.

Reason 4:  Your Analytics are difficult to track.  Our website analytics help us answer many questions for our marketing strategy, but two URLs results in misleading and confusing statistics.  To get a true picture of your website results, you may need to combine multiple reports, and layer information.  With a single website, you have a single analytics report, showing you where you’re having success, and where you need attention.

Reason 5:  Your users hate your mobile website.  Why do I feel this way?  A separate mobile website is doomed from the beginning.  We’re giving the shopper a different user-experience depending on the device they’re using, in many cases with conflicting content since we have to maintain them separately.  In addition, nearly every mobile website is “limited function” which means not all of the content from the main website is included.  For reasons listed above, a mobile shopper may be sent to pages that don’t exist, have conflicting information, throw the user onto a desktop site (pinch, zoom, scroll…leave) or simply give an error page.  The old strategy of using redirects doesn’t always work, and is again…a band-aid strategy.

It’s time we stepped back a bit and re-evaluated our reactive strategy with multiple websites.  Is it feasible to create a new website for every new mobile device that hits the market?  Of course not.  We need to replace our band-aid tactics with a strategic approach to build a single website that responds to whatever device is being used.  Once we turn this page, and move forward with a single Responsive website, we no longer need to worry about new devices hitting the market, since we’re already compatible.  We can focus on effective marketing, and stopping fighting technology.

Social Media for Tragedies

As the recent tragic events at the Boston Marathon were discovered on Twitter by a colleague, and then unfolded before me, it was a sharp reminder of the need for compassion, tact and etiquette when it comes to Social Media.  During tragic times, people are looking for information, contact from loved ones, where to get help, or how other people can help.  What people don’t want to see are insensitive Facebook posts or Tweets, either scheduled or manually posted, according to other agendas.

Like other similar events of the past, brand marketers and individuals were guilty of either conscious or unconscious acts of insensitivity.  The unconscious posts are typically either scheduled earlier in day, triggered to be spread out over time.  The conscious ones are posted by marketers attempting to take advantage of the event, sometimes complete with event hashtags, to increase visibility of their brand.  The conscious variety create Social hating for that brand, the most famous for the Boston event was Epicurious, the publisher of food and recipe content.

The Epicurious tweets were later apologized for, but after the damage was already inflicted.  Individuals will have already formed an opinion for that brand or person, and it will be a long road to rebuild that trust.  Epicurious should have learned from the past mistakes of others, take for instance the Gap’s tweets during Hurricane Sandy.

The Gap, knowing that folks were monitoring the hashtag #Sandy, took advantage of this and tried increase their business because of it.  Nasty stuff, and clearly the wrong way to engage during tragic times.

So what is the best approach to take?  That is a tough question, and one there may be no one answer.  I think you must put yourself in the position of someone directly affected by the tragedy, and gauge how they might respond if you were standing next to them and spoke your tweet.  At the very least, or if in doubt, brands should simply be silent rather than inserting foot-in-mouth.  Perhaps you could offer your condolences, but why clog Facebook or Twitter feeds posts from car dealerships who have no connection to the tragedy, simultaneously apologizing?

For the scheduled tweets or posts, that is a much simpler, but often overlooked fix.  You simply turn the, off as quickly as you can.  Or perhaps as Gary Vaynerchuk advises, don’t use them ever!

I don’t know if I would go as far as Gary advises, and never use scheduled posts, but I think you get his message.  Effective Social Media needs to feel as personal as possible, and scheduled posts rarely hit that mark.  If you are late in discovering a national or local tragedy, and scheduled posts have already gone out, simply stop the posts and issue a quick and sincere apology.  People are human, and they will understand that not everyone gets news at the same time, and something can always slip out.

So when can you resume your posting and tweets as normal?  Again, I’m not sure there is any single answer.  Once more I would advise to put yourself in the position of someone who has been affected, and get a feel for how long to wait.  Perhaps you slowly ramp back to your business-as-usual activity.  If you or your business is located near the tragedy, that may mean waiting a bit longer.

Of all the scientific and metric-driven activities we do, Social Media during and after a tragedy takes patience, tact, and compassion.  Your opportunities can wait, your audience will still be out there, have empathy, relax, and count your blessings.

Facebook Testing Ads, Reviews, Drilling Down Search

The folks at Facebook have been very busy both figuring out how to monetize Graph Search, as well as making some interesting functionality improvements,

Beginning the process of monetizing Graph Search likely comes as a welcome addition for Facebook investors.  Facebook is starting off in a very limited way with their first search ads, in that they are not targeted to what the user is searching for.  Instead they are simply using the standard targeting and retargeting methods used in other Facebook advertising.  The ads appear at the bottom of the page and only if there are multiple pages of search results.  These ads are targeted like other Facebook ads, based on the user’s age, gender, location, employer, Likes, as well as retargeting based on other sites the user has visited.

A much more powerful option for advertisers would be allowing them to target specific keywords that users might search on.  These specific lower funnel keywords would be much more valuable to advertisers and could allow Facebook to command a much higher rate.  Users who are searching and trying to make a buying decision would be served up relevant ads from businesses who have purchased those specific keywords in a geographic region.  Perhaps Facebook will move in this direction in the future with Graph Search.

The new option to drill down and refine your search was unannounced, as the new right-side menu suddenly began appearing.   I really like the new feature, as it not only makes life easier on the user, it also prompts them to find additional people or businesses that might be relevant to them.  Clearly Facebook is exposing more of their search graph to the user, so they can visualize the drill down opportunities.  In addition to drilling down, the user is also prompted to Extend This Search, by finding photos or videos from these places, or determining what friends visited them.

How can dealers maximize their opportunities with this new search drill down?  Make sure they are categorized correctly, have a large number of Likes on their business page, and have their location properly coded (see my prior articles on preparing for Graph Search).

The bad news for the automotive industry is that if the user simply searches for Places with no category chosen, there are no relevant categories in the drop down menu.  They would need to enter something like “car dealerships” or “oil lube & filter services” in the top Graph Search box.  Perhaps that too will change in the future, let’s hope so!

It is unclear exactly how the star ratings that appear next to some of these very popular venues are calculated.  I ran a few comparisons of venues on Yelp and Foursquare, and based on the large number of non-matches, they’re not republishing them.  It looks like they may be based on Likes, check-ins, mentions, and general PTAT (“People Talking About This” Facebook’s algorithm on unique users who have created a “story” about a page), since only very popular places show star ratings.  This would be similar to Foursquare’s algorithm, based on Likes, Check-ins, popularity, loyalty, and local expertise.

If in fact the Facebook reviews are an internal algorithm, dealers truly need to ramp up their social efforts.  Dealers will need to find new ways to increase Likes to their business pages, as well as increase engagement such as check-ins and other PTAT activities.

The Facebook Graph Search team will continue to refine this very important new tool, both adding to the functionality, as well as creating new options to monetize with advertisers.  I’ll continue to monitor it closely, and share my findings.