Making A Laughing Stock Out Of Social “Media”

Being involved in helping build awareness via social networks for dealers over the past three plus years, there has been a lot to see. And wonder about. From using APIs, feeds, republishing other content without attribution, ghost writing, "social" content farms, 50 plus network claims and more, it's a real "Wild Wild West" in what can loosely be called social media.

More often than not, the authentic part of brand building and gaining a following of targeted prospects, customers and partners is overshadowed by the "numbers game". Having not participated in the rat race, a few companies have catered to dealers from a more genuine and pervasive angle. In our case, even in working with some of the most reputable dealers in the US and Canada, our focus hasn't changed.

Just like with traditional or measured media, you can always pull an extra customer or two from outside your PMA/AOI because they saw your ad, lost leader, teaser, direct mail from a purchased list and the like. But the effort usually takes a financial investment, as well as a dedicated staff to take a couple hundred extra shopper calls from 50-200+ miles outside your selling market, that exceeds not only the return but takes un-calculated hours of effort. Again, you can likely sell one, two or even three. But at what cost?

Shiny object syndrome. Your choice: make it part of your business, or do like most dealers do with anything besides a warm body walking into the dealership. Isn't it so much easier when you can just throw hundreds to thousands of dollars at it to have it "done" by someone else, software, a new staff person, an existing staff person not doing their current job effectively or outsource it. Welcome to cardealerville, where more often than not (because there are some dealers and stores that simply kick a**), it's easier to just make it by rather than listen, learn, commit, apply, measure, adjust, remeasure, ask questions and do it forever.

Social networks. Facebook. It's a numbers game. Right? Yes, but only to a degree. While there are ways to grow a true, engaged following from email blasts to events, promotions to ads, signage to signature lines, an overnight success is as close to real and authentic as Simon Cowell keepng his opinion to himself or Donald Trump's hair staying in place without adhesive.

If you can add 2,100 fans in 48 hours and 1,100 of them in 11 hours, during the last few days of the month, claiming to do it with two salespeople walking around a (popular) mall armed only with iPads and their charm, there's a brand new Lexus LFA for sale at my house for $3.95 tax included.

Not to say that it can't be done. For Coca Cola. For United Airlines. For Zappos. For Lady Gaga. For a car dealer? Here's a reality check. The average percentage of people that you can stop, in a mall, during their shopping, fully engage, a get to do something you've asked them to do (as in "Like" a Facebook page) which requires about 2-4 minutes per person considering logging in, going to the page, liking it and logging out, is about 20%. If you're great. So, if you've added over 2,000 Likes, you would need over 10,000 people "walking by" you. Asking to Like a car dealership's Facebook page. At month end. Of a Holiday weekend. In a down economy. Need we go on?

Dealers. Heck, any business that reads our posts. This blog has been, is now, and will always be driven by the passon that our company has to education, improvement, information and moving the industry forward. Not hearsay. Not ego. Not reputation. Not prominence. Not sales (unless you're talking about a sales increase for the businesses reading our blog).

With less than 1% of franchise dealership employees getting a digital education at events, less than 5% participating in any level of OEM or third-party endorsed education, the attraction of paying $100 for 1,000 Facebook Likes can be too easy. Using automation and $50 a month to get thousands of Twitter followers can also be the same kind of aphrodisiac. Zero to hero is usually filled with as much satisfaction as a no-calorie candy bar. It may sound great, but selling high-line cars to a growing "Fan" base from South East Asia or South America is……………..well, let's not go there. Some of the OEMs actually read this. Wouldn't want anyone to get in hot water.

So just enjoy the teeming hordes of Likes you Real Ameican Genius of the Facebook Page. You deserve a nice cold one. Shower, that is.

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results.

4 Comments

  • Agreed! Way too much emphasis is put on numbers. As fasr as I am concerned you can have all the followers and fans in the world. But if only 10 actively participate, you only have 10 real followers. It’s not how many, it’s how you engage. Social media truly is, don’t judge a profile by its cover.

  • RalphPaglia says:

    Hey Gary… Tell us how you REALLY feel! Despite the innate sarcasm, or maybe because of it, I just wanna say I really enjoyed reading your blog between Chicago and Washington, DC. I even managed to squeeze in about a dozen Foursquare checkins and a few tweets along the way.

  • RalphPaglia says:

    As much as I enjoy creating great content and them syndicating it across dozens of social media channels for our dealer clients… It is a lot of work and takes a lot of man-hours! Does the hard work pay off? Heck yes! Are there any “magic secret social media moves”? Not really, it is more about focusing on efficiency of time utized and knowing when a story is worth sharing and will attract engagement. BTW, please check out my profile page at http://www.RalphPaglia.com

  • Hi Gary, I hadn’t heard this yet, but am not shocked either. Some car dealerships do anything, everything to get their numbers up, and it’s hard to teach dealerships that social media is NOT a numbers game, when they are so used to the numbers. And even though it’s not the best thing to look at, the easiest thing to see if a Facebook page is ‘healthy’ is to check out the numbers. But more than number of likes is what is essentially why car dealers are on Facebook, is how many cars are they selling. We have 1 client that has only 300 fans, but get 15 new customers through their Facebook efforts. And although I do agree you need some numbers to be effective on Facebook (10 fans isn’t enough), 🙂 engagement and follow up is how you can get to a sale.

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