We're bringing a petition to DrivingSales Executive Summit, JD Power Internet Roundtable, SEMA and NADA. But you can be first to sign it here and now. The law we're hoping to get passed in the retail automotive industry is "stop calling it social media and start calling it die without it". It's not something you try, experiment with, make efforts toward or the like. At least no more than you do with sales, service, F&I and your P&L. Do more. And stop thinking so much you can't do much.
Sick and tired of consumer communication and engagement, as well as fundamental business improvement, being hawked, pitched and sold by fly-by-night companies (as well as legitimate ones) with getcha-while-you're-looking tactics, it's time to discuss, use and improve platforms no differently than you would want a CRM or website technology used and improved.
Simple question: Do you want to stay in business? Your answer has to be all the way in yes or all of the way out no. There is no in between. Many (not all) companies that have tried to be somewhere in between over the past few years show up today as the many For Lease or Going Out Of Business signs on your daily drive. Don't think for a second that we're saying that had those businesses been in social media that they'd be vibrant and profitable today. Not at all.
But to sit and wait, guess and judge, delay and save or flat out refuse social media as part of your business strategy every day is the fastest path to demise today. Period. Remember that no one aspect of your business is a silver bullet. At the same time remember you can save yourself to death no differently than you can spend yourself to death. You're not "in" Twitter and Facebook. You're (hopefully) in business using a database/contact management system, a series of processes to sell, track and report, and a solid foundation of online media to showcase your business.
Saying "I'll try Facebook for 6 months and see if it works" is the same exact thing as saying "I'll try selling our services for 6 months and see if it works" or "I'll maintain my storefront for 6 months and see how that goes". If you want to see how things go, get committed or get out. If you truly aren't prepared for success in your own business, do it for someone else and leave the tools that professionals use to…a professional.
Blogs, Wikis, Display advertising/SEM, Review sites/reputation management, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Places and more are tools to be a more effective, yes effective, business. Not a trend-setter, not a groupie, not one of the cool places to hang or any other way of minimizing your way to profit. Can your business survive without being on Facebook? Chances are yes if at least for a short time. Can you survive without the fundamentals that have social media thriving and being "buzz" in mainstream media? Not for one New York minute, to steal a great song title from Don Henley.
So please don't let social media get in the way of your success with it, knowing you'll not experience success without it. Even if you don't set up that Twitter page you've been hemming and hawing about for a year… Oh, and one more thing. If you're a car dealership, don't pay $4,000 plus a month for social media services. That is unless you're getting a cut of the profit.
Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results