Tag Archives: social media

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.


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.




Were Here

Friends liked


Jeff Wyler Honda of Colerain






Beechmont Ford






Superior Honda






Porsche of Kings Automall






Jeff Wyler Automotive Family






Superior Kia






Northgate Ford Lincoln






Jake Sweeney Chevrolet






Jake Sweeney Mazda West






Lexus RiverCenter






Superior Hyundai South






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?

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.

Pinterest Continues to Interest

Earlier this year, I wrote an article on why and how dealers should establish a presence on Pinterest.    Since that time, Pinterest (launched in March 2010) has established itself as the 3rd most popular U.S. social networking site, behind Facebook and Twitter.  Pinterest has around 20 million users as of June 2012, up from only 1 million users in July 2011.  In a recent Wall Street Journal article, it was reported that Pinterest is now valued at $1.5 billion, thanks to the way the site attracts users, holds them for very long visits, and converts users to revenue.  A couple of recent independent studies confirm Pinterest’s ability to convert users to revenue, and the incredibly long visits each user represents.  If you’re still sitting on the sidelines, it is time to take action.

One of the biggest risks for dealers who haven’t yet joined Pinterest comes from spammers squatting on key brand names (like your dealership name!).  These spammers will then sell you your brand once you decide to join this hot new Social Media site.  It only takes about 15 minutes to secure your brand on Pinterest, so register your dealer’s brand name right away.  If you need an invitation to join Pinterest (Pinterest is still invite-only), please email me and I’ll get you set up right away.

If you haven’t seen Pinterest’s amazing ability to secure Page 1 SERP, it is a proven fact.  These search results show up not only for a dealership brand name, but also on key search terms.  The most wonderful thing about Pinterest is…it’s easy and fun to do.  You simply establish your brand presence and then develop your style and voice for the page.  What does that mean?  Read on.

I recently gave a presentation on Pinterest at Jim Ziegler’s Internet Battle Plan X in Las Vegas. Having conducted research and dealer interviews prior to the presentation, it was interesting to note the audience’s reaction to Pinterest.  There were a handful of dealers that had established their presence and could talk about their “Pinterest Style”, but most were still on the sidelines.  After hearing my presentation, about 1/3 of the dealers immediately emailed me for an invitation so they could secure their brand and get started.  Establishing your dealership on Pinterest can help you dial into and share your dealership’s personality, appealing to both current and prospective customers.  Fiat dealers for example, feel their customers like things that are fun, quirky, and creative, so the Pinterest pages from their dealers echo that.  Jeep dealers, by contrast, promote a personality of rugged and adventurous customers, and have Pinterest boards with Jeeps used accordingly.  You get the idea; target your customers while promoting your dealership’s history, community involvement, and personality.

As you get started on Pinterest, make sure you avoid “pin dumping”.  Each time you pin and image, it pops up on the feed to all of your followers.  Pinning a few images or videos once in a while is a nice digestible amount for your followers to observe.  However, if you “pin dump” and post 100 images within an hour, you will dominate your followers’ feeds and tend to annoy them.  This can lead to followers choosing to un-follow you, and spoil your efforts to build a strong following.  Instead, spread your pins over time, pinning several images, and then waiting a few hours to pin more.

As dealers get savvier with their Pinterest boards, they should begin to experiment with Group Boards. In fact, Jim Ziegler showed me the incredible capability of this feature.  To get increased collaboration, engagement, and network effect, you can create Group Boards where others can post related images along a common theme.  Keep in mind that the board owner must first enable contributors by inviting them to Pin along, and you must first follow one or more boards of those contributors.  What is most amazing to me about these Group Boards is the network effect they create.  For instance, if you invite 100 users, and each of them have 100 followers; you can now potentially expose your Group Boards to 10,000 Pinterest users!  Every time one of your Group Board collaborators posts to your board, it exposes that board to all of their followers.

How can you measure whether or not you’re successful on Pinterest?  That’s easy too.  Simply visit a site called PinPuff (www.pinpuff.com) and you can get a free rating on your site.  PinPuff is a measure of your popularity on Pinterest and the value of each of your pins.  PinPuff lists the boards and pins with the most traction, and provides tips to build your network.  Through PinPuff, it’s possible to improve content and get more results on Pinterest.  An average PinPuff score is 32, and any score 50 or higher is considered very good.  There is also a free tool called PinReach (www.PinReach.com) that can help you understand activity, measure impact, and gauge your success.

An interesting free tool that is built right into Pinterest, allows you to track the pins that have come from your dealer pages.  The URL structure is: http://pinterest.com/source/[domain].  Replace the “domain” with your website address.  For instance, to find out the pins that have come from Ford Motor Company’s website you would go to this web address: http://pinterest.com/source/ford.com.  This creates the perfect opportunity to find people pinning and re-pinning content, so you can engage these visitors with messages from your dealership (remember this is a Social site!).  The key is to be conversational and helpful.

Many dealers ask how to measure ROI (return on investment) from having a presence on Pinterest.  There is a great tool called Pinerly (www.Pinerly.com) that can help you measure effectiveness on specific campaigns.  You can also use website statistics to track your referring clicks (ask your website provider).  Your CRM can also help you measure the source of your leads and showroom traffic to help you measure conversion.  If you purchase your website and CRM from the same provider, they should be able to give you a complete look at the traffic, leads and sales that come from Pinterest activity.

The SEO ability of Pinterest is probably the most impressive aspect of the site.  Since Pinterest is a site built upon links, and Google indexes the text from your boards and from your homepage, it is potentially packed full of SEO juice.  Be strategic with your homepage and board descriptions to make sure you’re getting indexed for the same keywords that prospective customers are using in automotive searches.

The Internet remains a world where change is constant. The key for dealers is stay in tune with where consumers are spending their time, and adjust online strategies accordingly.  Of all of the Social Media outlets dealers need to pay attention to, Pinterest is a very easy one to start.  Don’t delay, grab your brand today and start laying out your strategy.