Tag Archives: Social Marketing ROI Dealer

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?

Should Dealers Have Interest in Pinterest?

During a recent management retreat, a colleague introduced the group to the Internet’s fastest growing Social Networking site…Pinterest.com.  Pinterest (pronounced pin-terest, not pin-interest) has burst onto the internet with growth rates we haven’t seen since Facebook. Traffic has jumped to almost 11 million visitors in mid-December, nearly 40 times where it was only six months ago.  Pinterest is now in the top 7 social networks on the web, that’s pretty darn impressive.  A remarkable stat is that 59% of its users are women aged 25-44, which is well above rates on other social networks.

During the brief demonstration I watched, I initially didn’t understand the mission of the site, or rather why it would drive consumer eyeballs.  I learned that you needed to “apply for admission” which could take weeks, or you could find another Pinterest user and get them to invite you.  I found a co-worker who had already become a member, and with a few clicks I was running full speed on this new social venue.  Just like learning about every other social network, you’ll never truly understand it until you immerse yourself (which is what I did).  While I was figuring out the value proposition Pinterest offered, I also showed the site to my wife and her sister.  They both commented that they heard it was a site to get good ideas from, and wanted me to quickly invite them.  They both instantly fell in love with the site, and now spend more time on Pinterest than on Facebook.  That instant addiction caused me to embark on a journey to find out more and more about this site, and potentially how it might help my customers (you, the car dealer).

If you visit the site, you will notice that the majority of content relates to food, home decorating, crafts, and child-related ideas.  I took a stab at creating a man’s version of the site, including my interests in cool cars, vintage guitars, and outdoor barbecuing.  I was pleasantly surprised that when I searched for related “Pins” and “Boards”, I found there were many others with similar interests.

OK, first some background.  Pinterest is all about pictures, not so much about words.  When you find an interesting picture on the web, you “Pin” the picture and it is attached to your profile.  You can also have “Boards”, which are subject-related collections of Pins.  I have Boards for “Cool Cars”, “Vintage Guitars”, etc.  Every time I find a picture of a cool car, I “Pin” the picture and put in on the “Cool Cars” Board.  You can also “Re-Pin” someone else’s Pin, which propagates that content across the web.  You can also simply “like” someone else’s Pin, which just shows you liked it, but didn’t feel compelled to Re-Pin it.  You get the idea.

Since a major component of a dealer’s social marketing strategy should be to build a social network, and join in on the conversations, I would think a progressive dealer would start a profile for their store, and simply “Pin” new or used car photos for special or unique items.  You might also Pin pictures of cool aftermarket or OEM accessories, perhaps alone or on a customer’s vehicle.  You should be careful not to be too self-promoting, or you will be unlikely to attract many followers.  Instead, only show the very new, or very special models or products, and don’t try to sell, simply try to create interest.  Be forewarned, Pinterest has rules where they discourage overt self-promotion, and you wouldn’t want to start your experience getting black-listed.

You could also search the site for related Pins for makes/models that you carry, and Re-Pin those items and maybe add a comment with your thoughts.  Again, don’t add a comment like “We’ve got cars just like these for the lowest price in town!”, but maybe an interesting fact about the benefits of this make/model.  You also should begin “following” other Pinners with similar interests, or anyone who starts following you (building your network!).

You could create a Board for your local community, Pins of pictures of community involvement, Little League teams you’ve sponsored, ways you are helping your local area, and your passion for your surroundings.  You could create a Board with pictures of cool home garages, pictures of interesting driving destinations, pictures of vehicle interior customizations, the list goes on.

The key is to create Boards that reflect the personality and culture of the dealership, and the interests of the dealer owner.  As in all social marketing programs, you are trying to personally connect, in many cases one-on-one with other people with similar interests.  If they feel a personal connection with you, they may eventually decide to become your customer, since people like doing business with friends!

I’ll admit, it took me a while to get my hands wrapped around this new site, but the growth stats are incredible.  Effective Digital Marketing Strategy says to promote your business where people are spending their time online, so Pinterest definitely fits the bill.  This site will force you to be a little more creative, and a little more subdued in your approach, but the exposure and payoff in the long run should be worth it.  Chances are most dealers will read this and move on, so your opportunity to be an early entrant could give you a nice head start.

Good luck, and please let me know how I can help!

Does Social ROI Exist?

Over the last few weeks, I have been spending time discussing the value and benefit of social media with dealers. Invariably, the conversation quickly transitions to ‘how can I measure the ROI of social media’? When it comes to social media, dealers often want to know what can be gained or how much will my dealership make by leveraging these channels. After all, investments in traditional and digital media should always be made with a detailed eye toward measurable ROI. Traditional media has posed ROI challenges, when trying to determine how much of the weekend lot traffic was due to weekend newspaper advertising. Digital media came along and gave us tremendous ability to track our investments. If you place your inventory on your website, a portal site, or offer an online coupon you are able to track the number of views, click through rates, lead details, and hopefully, who converted to a sale. Social media investments are hybrid investments because they incorporate aspects of both traditional and digital media as well as community outreach.
With social media, you are not pushing an advertising message to the prospective customer, and therefore, you should not look for a measurable response in the traditional sense. Instead, you are trying to become part of a conversation, or in essence, part of thousands of conversations. The trick is to learn which conversations to join and when to join them.
You should join conversations when your dealership receives an online review, either excellent or poor. You should thank and promote a customer who gives you a positive review. You should join conversations when people are having trouble with their cars or trucks. You should join conversations when people are trying to decide if one make/model is better than another. You should actively try to make new friends, and share quality content with as many new acquaintances as you can. In the same way you do this in the offline world, building a large network of friends and advocates in the online world builds the goodwill of the dealership.
Is it easy to measure the goodwill that comes from sponsoring local community outreach? If the dealership helps feed the hungry during the holidays, sponsors local youth sports, or is deeply involved in local civic associations, do you measure the ROI for those investments? For dealers to properly grasp the concept of making investments in social media, they simply need to think of it as an extension of them being a friendly part of the offline community. The critical difference is that in the online community, this goodwill can be shared and broadcast across a massive network. Twenty years ago, an unhappy customer could tell a few friends. Today, an unhappy customer likely has at least 150 Facebook friends, and will instantly share their experience with a simple click of a mouse. On the flip side, positive reviews can also have the same powerful effect. Positive reviews and comments from your online community can reach these same hundreds of Facebook friends, creating powerful goodwill for your store. The ROI is tough to measure in the short term, but in the long term these critical investments in social media will secure your dealerships place in the community for many years to come. Social media investments are a long-term play.
In many cases, the investments for social marketing effectiveness require time, not money. This time needs to come from all levels of the dealership. This includes a commitment from top management. Total involvement from everyone emphasizes the overall importance of social media investments. The participation and conversations need to come from the heart, and need to echo the culture of the dealer principal and store personnel. It has to be real.
Of course, there is a flip side to the ROI argument, and that is LONI, or what I describe as Loss Of Non-Investment. LONI for example is deciding to sit on the sidelines in the social media world giving up on the positive opportunities that are available, as well as missing the opportunity to be part of conversations, especially conversations about your dealership. You know what they say about online negative reviews that have not been responded to? If you don’t respond…it is the truth. If I read an online review, and the seller has given a reasonable response, I think to myself “Well maybe that is just an unreasonable customer. The seller sure did sound sincere.” In today’s world of Google Places, with online reviews jumping to a prominence on Page 1, choosing not to respond to negative reviews could be the beginning of the end for a negligent dealer. I see it all the time- a dealer idly sits on the sideline with a 2-Star rating with negative reviews. What is the cost of that neglect? When I talk to these dealers, I tell them, “Your building is on fire…you need to act immediately!” By not responding, these dealers are doing more harm than good. Posting responses essentially costs the dealership nothing on the most important review site out there, Google. It does require your time, your commitment, and your genuine sincerity.
I’m not trying to say that you cannot measure any type of ROI from social media investments. Clearly dealers who invest in improving their online reputations will see more click-throughs on Google Places listings vs. dealers with a poor reputation. Also, converting a consumer who recently joined your Facebook Fan Page, or who began following your dealership on Twitter is a clear ROI metric. But do you have the ability to measure the entire ROI from responding to negative reviews? What is the ROI from helping someone with a car-related question on Facebook or Twitter? What is the ROI from helping the community online or offline? Tough to completely measure, it is all about the value of the goodwill you want to bring, and the value of your network of friends and advocates. We know the importance of this in the offline world; we all need to recognize the value in the online world too. Don’t wait, get committed and start today!