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  • feedwordpress 06:09:34 on 2015/06/25 Permalink
    Tags: , Automotive Social Media, , , Evergreen, , Republished Social Content   

    Just Because We Don’t Republish Social Content Doesn’t Mean It’s Wrong 

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    As a policy, we’ve always chosen to the “once and nevermore” philosophy with our social media posts for clients. We handcraft each post and that post will appear one time and on one dealership’s Facebook page. Once it’s used, it’s done forever.

    A dealer asked me today if that’s a best practice or something that we do for the sake of proper service. The answer is that it’s both. It’s a best practice to use unique content nearly every single time (with an occasional exception described below) and to make sure that any content is only used for one dealership page. However, that doesn’t mean that the rule can’t be bent a little, especially for car dealers who are doing it themselves.

    Let’s quickly discuss both reasons that we made the rule and you’ll understand why it’s a rule that you’re allowed to break.

    Unique is Best, but…

    In an ideal world, a company will be able to generate so much content that everything posted on Facebook is never reposted again. In the real world, we understand two things for dealers who are managing their own social media:

    1. Content isn’t always readily available, so sometimes you have to recycle content that was posted in the past just to keep the pages and profiles going.
    2. Evergreen content seen by one batch of people last month may be relevant and interesting to a new batch of people who are seeing you post this month.

    We have made it a general practice to keep the content unique because that’s best for our clients, but there’s no harm in occasionally republishing exceptional content at the dealership level. The risks involved are minimal; every post will reach more new people than repeat viewers of that post as long as the gap in between posting is pretty wide. The two minor negatives are that republished content gets a lower reach potential through Facebook, even with ads, and you might have the occasional person in your market who sees the content for the second time and doesn’t appreciate it.

    The exceptions that I mentioned above are videos and extremely important content. In both cases, the base content can remain the same but you should still mix it up with the description and attached image whenever possible. These two types of posts are worth the risk since videos have the highest potential of getting strong reach and important content is, well, important.

    With Twitter, this rule is tossed out at least a little bit because the percentage of followers reached with each post is much lower. The recent changes to Twitter might have an affect on this; we’re testing to see. For now, evergreen content can go on Twitter relatively often. We try to limit it to no more than once a month for any individual piece, but again there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up with different wording or hashtags.

    Business Decision for Proper Service

    The other reason we’ve chosen to take the nevermore-approach is because the exact opposite is the norm in the automotive industry. The vast majority of companies who are posting on behalf of dealers use content libraries, bulk posting tools, and regurgitated stories in order to fill their client’s pages and profiles with content. We’ve seen disastrous results when a company posts the same picture of the same car with the same description to every dealer of the same brand on their client list. It’s amateur and looks terrible when people see duplicated content like that sent out through automation.

    I know what you’re thinking. Even some of the OEMs are doing this, so it can’t be that bad, right? I won’t go into details, but I know a very prominent OEM social media person who left their job over this practice. They’ve had someone convince them that it’s okay, that it’s better than nothing, that people are unlikely to follow more than one dealership… the list of excuses are many but the reality is the same. It’s a bad practice.

    It would be easier and more cost-effective to do it the bulk way that so many companies have adopted. I suppose we’re just silly rebels who believe that dealers deserve better.

  • feedwordpress 04:53:50 on 2015/05/24 Permalink
    Tags: Automotive Social Media, , , , , targeting   

    Is Selling Allowed on Social Media? 

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    There has always been a thin line between marketing and spamming, between being social and social selling. That line has been getting broader in the last couple of years for a few reasons, most notably because businesses and marketing companies are simply getting better at using social media the right way.

    Selling and marketing are allowed on social media. In fact, businesses that try to hard to “be social” without applying appropriate business-relevant messages to the mix are missing the boat. Sure, it’s good for branding, but action does not stem from branding. More importantly, it’s very easy to promote branding while still getting the bang for the buck that proper social selling, lead generation, and calls-to-action bring to the table.

    The key is targeting. This has been the most powerful aspect of social media for a long time. Now that Facebook and other social sites have so much information about us, we can apply that information to put the right message in front of the right people at the right time. That’s the way to use social media properly.

    The reason for it is relevance. When a message can resonate because its targeting is righteous, you can find tremendous results. In our industry, the car business, we see this applied so beautifully that it’s a wonder why more dealers don’t utilize it. Through targeting, we can find high-potential car buyers interested in specific makes or types of vehicles and put a message in front of them that matches their needs. The social media user likes it because they get to see something that matches their current needs.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have no illusions that people love to see ads on social media. However, when the ads hit home and bring the appropriate message that matches their current needs, the ads become much more powerful for them. In fact, the average consumer will view such ads as serendipity rather than intrusion. They don’t know (or are willing to accept) that Facebook and other social media sites know so much about us that the targeting is often spot on. They sometimes consider it a wild and fortunate coincidence that they see an ad for a Honda Accord while they’re in the market for a Honda Accord.

    Blanket messages and inappropriate targeting are the things that drive consumers crazy. In fact, they should drive businesses crazy as well because bad marketing makes it harder for good marketers to get the word out.

    Use the targeting. It’s the most powerful and effective portion of a proper social media strategy.

  • feedwordpress 22:16:45 on 2015/05/21 Permalink
    Tags: Automotive Social Media, , , , ,   

    The Importance of Serving Certified Organic… Content 

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    In the world of food, organic is the growing trend that fuels a $63 billion industry and that is intended to make America and the rest of the world healthier by eliminating the old, bulk, inorganic methodology of growing food that has emerged in the last two decades. In the world of search engine optimization and social media marketing, organic content should be the growing trend that makes websites stronger by eliminating the old, bulk, inorganic methodology of building content that has become prevalent in marketing for a decade.

    The good news is that we’ve seen incredible progress with delivering organic content, links, and social signals in a way that makes Google, Facebook, Bing, and other marketing venues happy. The bad news is that there are no certification systems that can look at a site and tell you if the content is organic or not. Everyone claims it. Very few are doing it, particularly in the automotive industry.

    Thankfully, you can test your own site manually to determine if it’s organic or not. Here are some things to look for with the content that is being placed on your website.

    1. It’s Not Copied and Pasted: I know. You may be a culprit of this yourself. There was a trend of content syndication and bulk building that swept through the internet for a long time. The reason that it did was because it worked. Google removed this strategy from the land of validity when they introduced the Panda update in 2011. Since then, they’ve honed their skills of identifying copied content and they do a great job of filtering out the copiers.
    2. It’s Spun: Many vendors, particularly larger ones, use content spinning techniques to populate content on sites. The strategy is to take boilerplate content and plug in enough unique identifiers like company name and address to try to beat the system. It doesn’t work. The system is smarter than the spinners.
    3. It Sounds Like SEO Junk: Content should be built for individuals. That means no long lists of every city in the area that you want to target. That means to long lists of vehicles that you sell. That means that if you read it out loud on a phone call with some random person you knew in high school, that they wouldn’t cringe at what you were saying. It means writing for the people, not for the bots.
    4. A Social User would Happily Share it Because it’s Good: There are certain pages on your website that don’t need to be shared and probably couldn’t be realistically shared if you tried. Inventory, specials, contact pages, staff pages… these and other parts of your website do not need content that compels people to share it. The rest of your content, whether on your website blog or on landing pages designed for conversion, should bring enough value to the table that any person visiting the page can say, “That’s interesting. I want to share this page on social media!”

    There’s a reason that true content marketing is so effective for both SEO and social media marketing. Every major player is pushing for quality over quantity, which means that Google, Facebook, and everyone else wants to see your best content effort, not your most automated. If you build it organically, you’ll be able to wow the marketing venues. If you stick with “GMO Content” you’ll be exactly where you are today – in the middle of the pack.

  • feedwordpress 12:56:17 on 2015/03/31 Permalink
    Tags: Automotive Social Media, , , Personalization, Reputation Management, , , , , ,   

    Better Social Media Marketing comes from Personalized Social Media Strategy 

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    If you think it’s the software, you’re mistaken. Social media marketing is unlike many other types of digital marketing because it is much less reliant on specialized software and more empowered by creativity and personalized strategy. I understand why agencies rely on software, but it’s not something that we would ever recommend.

    In our industry, the car business, we believe in learning what we can about a dealership and customizing their social media to fit their market, personality, brands, selling style, and community involvement. One does not simply pull out a generic set of deliverables and start checking off the boxes. True automotive social media strategy requires diving in and building a strategy around the dealership.

    Perhaps the most important factor in designing a strategy is to keep it fluid to adapt to changes in the local market. A perfect example popped up late last week. A dealership had been doing very well with their campaigns but saw a challenge from other brands popping up. They were selling a popular brand but the data was showing that less popular brands nationally were selling more cars in their area than they were.

    Social media has many purposes. Sometimes, it’s all about driving targeted traffic to the dealer’s website. That’s the core of what we do, but there are times when the need arises to pull a play out of the old social media playbook – excitement and buzz. While we believe that buzz is something that’s a side effect of a strong social media campaign rather than a focus, we knew that in this particular situation, we had to focus a bit on making people aware that they should consider this particular brand.

    Under normal situations, we find that “sizzle” happens in the standard course of building campaigns, but their situation required that we turn up the heat. We adjusted a couple of their campaigns and redirected some budget to get the word out that this particular brand was hot and needed to be at the top of mind.

    Personalization requires that you toss out preconceived ideas. That’s not to say that you don’t follow best practices, but they don’t always fit into a particular situation. For example, it’s a best practice to get the word out about reviews. Most review sites get very little traffic. They’re great for letting people know that it’s good to do business with you through the star-ratings present in Google, but most of the people who read through these review sites skip passed the 5-star reviews and search for the bad ones. They’re looking for dirt. Social media is ideal for getting the actual words of positive reviews out in front of people.

    This best practice works for many, but not all. Some are having reputation challenges and the last thing you want to do is to highlight your reputation if it’s bad. Just because something is a best practice doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone.

    Social media is a wonderful way to drive traffic and interact with the community. The way to maximize it is to rely on real solutions and strategies rather than software and bulk posting.

  • feedwordpress 08:24:07 on 2015/01/23 Permalink
    Tags: Automotive Social Media, , Dark Posts, , , Public Posts, , , , , , , Unpublished Posts   

    If a Social Media Company Doesn’t Offer Both Sides of the Posting Coin, Run Away 

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    It’s hard to pick a better Joker from the Batman movies. The original Jack Nicholson version was dark and funny and had the psychopathic flare that only Jack can bring to the table. Heath Ledger’s Joker brought critical acclaim and an Oscar win because of the raw grittiness in the way he threw himself into the role.

    We shouldn’t choose. We shouldn’t have to. Both performances can thrive on their own merits and be watched for generations to come.

    The same sort of toss-up applies to Facebook and Twitter posting, particularly when it comes to advertising for business. Everyone knows about the public posting component. These are the posts that appear on the Facebook pages or Twitter profiles of the business and fill the news feeds and timelines of the business’ followers. The unpublished side, known to some as “dark posts”, are usually not known by the business community and often ignored by marketing companies.

    If a social media company isn’t taking advantage of both of them, you should run away and pretend like they don’t exist. Both are extremely important to the success of a business’ social media presence. If anything, the dark posts are even more important than the public posts. Let’s define them, then go into why they’re both so important.

    Public Posts

    Not much to say here since you all already know what they are. If you post to your “wall” on Facebook or to your Twitter profile, you’re posting publicly. These posts appear whenever anyone visits your page or profile. They also appear on the Facebook news feeds and Twitter timelines of those who are following you (though your actual reach with advertising on either platform is normally pretty abysmal, even embarrassing).

    Dark Posts

    These are the unpublished posts on Facebook and Twitter. They’re the ads that don’t appear on your page or profile, but fill the news feeds and timelines of the audiences you select. They aren’t bound by time – they run until you replace them or tell them to stop.

    Dark posts are avoided by many companies for three reasons:

    1. They aren’t automated. You can’t schedule them with Buffer or Hootsuite, for example, and an API feed doesn’t work. This makes them non-scalable, which means that only nimble companies like the automotive social media folks, our friends at Dealer Authority, have the ability to manage them for their clients.
    2. They aren’t popular. For whatever reason, both Facebook and Twitter have done terrible jobs at letting businesses know the power of dark posts. This is good for those who are taking advantage of them because the competition in most industries is minimal. Of course, that also means social media companies can get away with not selling them because few businesses are asking about them.
    3. They aren’t profitable… for the social media company. Unlike Google PPC where even small businesses can have monthly budgets in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, social media dark post advertising is usually in the hundreds or thousands per month. Those charging a percentage can’t make much money and those charging a flat often have to overcharge to make them worthwhile.

    The thing is that these types of posts have the strongest ROI, higher than with public posts. For this reason, social media companies must offer them if their goal is to truly help their clients.

    Why You Need Both

    By themselves, neither is exceptionally effective. Sure, you can get incredible branding and exposure through a public posting strategy with a small advertising budget and you can get great traffic to your website through a dark posting campaign with a slightly higher budget, but it’s in the combination of both types of posting that a proper strategy can be delivered.

    Get the buzz with public posts. Get the traffic with dark posts. It’s not a hard concept to understand, but it’s strangely a hard service (for some) to deliver.

  • feedwordpress 01:50:49 on 2014/08/11 Permalink
    Tags: Automotive Social Media, , , , , , ,   

    The Two Categories of Social Media Marketing Strategies 

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    All In

    When it comes to marketing (and just about everything else), there are right-brained thinkers and left-brained thinkers. The right-brain thinkers are more subjective and often more creative and would not like the concept of social media having two options. It makes it too black and white. Left-brain thinkers are guided by logic and wouldn’t necessarily believe that there are only two categories in social media marketing. In other words, neither type of person will likely agree with the assertion of this article, at least not at first.

    One can make an argument that there are definitely multiple sub-categories, styles, and strategies that go into social media marketing, but there are really only two stances that businesses should take. These two categories can be called “outbound” and “inbound” social media strategies. They shouldn’t be confused with inbound or outbound digital marketing strategies. In the case of these social media categories, we’re being a little more straight forward than that.

    An outbound social media marketing strategy is what most who believe in social media want to achieve. They feel that social media is a venue through which to reach people, communicate, improve branding, and expose the company’s messages. Its goal is to be aggressive and take advantage of the fact that the masses are using social media regularly. In many cases, customers are spending more time on social media than any other digital activity.

    An inbound social media strategy is very different from a pure inbound marketing strategy. It can be viewed as a defensive posture, a way of covering social media without much time or effort. It’s about checking off the social media task box. This is the type of strategy that a business should employ if they either do not believe in social media as an appropriate marketing venue or they do not have the time and/or budget to put a true effort towards an outbound strategy.

    Let’s take a look at each strategy in more detail.

    Outbound Social Media Marketing

    This is an “all in” strategy. It focuses on the beliefs that lots of people are on social media, that sites like Facebook have the data that can be used for hypertargeting them with the right messages, and that either ideas or website clicks can be driven through an aggressive advertising component.

    In the case of car dealers, for example, social media offers a venue to target people who intend to buy a certain vehicle in the near future. By taking advantage of this data and putting the right messages in front of them, dealers are able to pull people in from social media sites onto landing pages on their website.

    To do it the right way requires an investment. It can take time to craft the messages, monitor the profiles, and participate in conversations. It takes advertising dollars to get the message out to the right target audience. Social media in general and Facebook in particular is a pay-to-play model. The old concepts of organic reach are dead.

    Inbound Social Media Presence

    You’ll notice that I did not call it “marketing”. With an inbound strategy, a business is simply creating and managing a presence so that they are there without putting in much effort. It’s not a defeatist strategy by any means. For many, they have not found the benefits of social media or they’re not ready to invest what it takes to have a strong marketing strategy, so they simply get their social media covered.

    This is important because people will visit your pages and profiles. Most businesses have buttons that lead to their social media profiles right there on their website. The search engines will often rank social media profiles and pages high on search results for the business by name. Making sure that your pages have an ongoing flow of content is important while not being too time consuming or expensive.

    It doesn’t look good when people visit your social profiles and they haven’t had anything added to them in some time. It’s even worse when people are going to these profiles to converse with you or to leave a comment (such as a review) and it goes unnoticed. In extreme cases, Facebook pages can be “hijacked” by spammers leaving their links to unrelated pages. When this type of spam is found on a page, it can be worse than an embarrassment.

    Why There’s No In-Between

    Some will balk and say that there are ways to have a good marketing strategy without going all-in. They are wrong. The benefits of a toe-dipping, low- or no-budget strategy that is trying to do more than establish an ongoing presence are no greater than a purely defensive inbound strategy. In other words, you can spend very little time and money on a basic inbound strategy or you can spend some more time and a little money on an attempted lite marketing strategy and the end results will be the same.

    The gap between a basic presence and a “good” presence is minimal. However, the difference between a “good” presence and a full-blown outbound strategy is huge. If you’re not going to go all-in, then you should focus on having a good presence rather than trying to work in a little marketing. It’s a waste of time and money to go halfway. Either invest into it or keep it simple. There’s nothing wrong with either strategy; they both have their benefits. Trying to be there in the middle, not quite bought in but more than just covering the basics, is a limbo that yields nothing more than keeping it all inbound.

    It’s a lot like poker. On some hands, you’ll play it tight, particularly if you believe your hand is weaker than your opponents. On other hands, you’ll play aggressive, even going all-in when the time is right. The fish in the middle who are trying to tiptoe through hands are the ones that end up losing their chips the quickest.

  • feedwordpress 04:48:45 on 2014/08/04 Permalink
    Tags: automark, , Automotive Social Media, , car dealers, dealers, , forms, leads, , , security, , tranparency   

    Transparency in Contact Forms Desperately Needed on Websites 

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    Privacy Transparency

    Just about anyone who has been on the internet in the past couple of decades has fallen victim to the unfortunate fraud of contact form ambiguity. You fill out a form in order to get some information or to be contacted by someone, only to receive the wrong information or to be contacted by the wrong (or even multiple) people. It has gotten to the point that contact forms in general often leave a negative taste in web surfers’ mouths.

    Moreover, they rarely have the right information even in the forms themselves. It’s common to be filling out a form and not have all of the information necessary to know if you’re filling out the right form or not. This is not only a pain, but it can be dangerous as well. Between privacy issues and the need for transparency, collecting information on the internet has gained a bad but deserved rap.

    One company than we explored that seemed to have the contact form concept down is Automark. They have taken the art of building proper contact forms on dealership websites and filled them with both accuracy and abundance of data. On most dealer websites, you can click on nearly any form and get the same results every time. It’s as if they have the same form with different names to try to compel people to fill them out, though they have little intention of answering that you really want answered. It’s not the dealers’ fault. In the vast majority of cases, it’s the website provider that uses generic forms with different calls to action in order to generate more leads at any cost.

    Lease Form

    With Automark, the forms and calls to action are clear and useful. In the example above, you see a lease request form that is extremely relevant and transparent. The data requested is pertinent to getting more information to the interested party and it does not extend beyond the need to learn more about leasing. People who fill out the form have a reasonable expectation that they’ll get information about leases and the dealer has all of the information they need in order to get them that information. What’s more important is that the dealer doesn’t have to. The form is tied into the data that is necessary to generate the information the customer wants. In essence, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it contact form that makes the customer happy and supplies the dealer (and only the dealer) with the customer’s information in order to help them further if necessary.

    As the world grows more accustomed to foul data-collection practices and the need for transparency, it’s good to see companies like Automark step up to make it better.

  • feedwordpress 21:40:27 on 2014/03/30 Permalink
    Tags: , Automotive Social Media, , , , , Recycling, , , , , , , ,   

    Recycling Social Media Content is Getting Out of Hand 

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    Tweet from 2013

    I get it. I understand the need for more content to serve to an ever-growing flow of content consumers. The art of recycling content is important, particularly on sites like Twitter where a piece of content can and should be used multiple times in order to get the message out to everyone. It’s a chronological feed, after all, and posting it once will only get it seen by an extremely small portion of your audience.

    With that said, it’s getting out of hand. I have been finding posts that are months old and no longer relevant hitting my feed from car dealers around the country. There’s a limit. Old news is old news. In the case of the Tweet above, the article posted on Twitter by a Toyota dealer on March 30, 2014, is a link to an article from July 4, 2013. That’s too long for this type of news.

    When recycling posts on Twitter, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Is it relevant? Old posts are find if there’s context that makes it work today. For example, posting an article about Tesla’s early days in trying to launch with dealerships would make sense to post considering their current stance.
    • Is it timeless? Some posts, particularly advice posts that give the reader information they can use today, can be posted up until the point that they’re obsolete. An example of this would be a video that demonstrates how to change the batteries in a key fob. Until they change the way you open the key fob, it still makes sense to post for months, even years after the original.
    • Is it nostalgic? There are times when old posts are even better than new ones. A picture of an old Honda ad from the 70s would play well to show how far the company has come over the years.
    • Has it been posted very recently? This is one of my biggest pet peeves. If a post comes through today that is just a different wording on something posted yesterday, than it’s not acceptable. The exception: timely events. If you have a big sale or charity event this weekend, then posting a different variation of the same thing over and over again is acceptable and demonstrates focus on the event.

    As more companies use content libraries to keep the feeds flowing, it’s important to keep in mind that the libraries must be refreshed. They must be pruned. In the case of the post above, it’s simply not acceptable. That was news for about a month. There is plenty of content out there in the form of current news about every manufacturer and the local area. Don’t get stuck beating a dead horse with your posts.

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