Stacey Fowler, social media dealer coach of Ford Canada stores for Sonic Boom, a digital media agency in Toronto, shares her thoughts on the evolving social media sphere. Zender Ford in Spruce Grove, Alberta, is among the agency's clients.
What is it that dealerships don't understand about social media?
One thing we often remind dealers is that social media is naturally social in nature. It's an ongoing conversation that involves sharing information, educating people and, often, giving them something valuable that they can't get elsewhere.
The other important thing to remember is that dealerships, like many businesses, think they have to be everywhere online to be successful. That's not necessarily true. We help dealerships figure out their social strategy, which will then inform where they should be online and what they should be focusing their time on.
What are some of the posting strategies that have worked best?
No matter what the tactic itself ends up being, I'm a fan of a simple yet effective approach to social media. I always ask, "What will get people talking?" It doesn't have to be complicated. Ask, "What would make someone like my page? What would make someone click this link? What would make someone comment on this photo?"
Promotions and posts and ads and offers and whatever else are most successful if they address those fundamental questions.
What are some of the most creative things you've seen dealerships do on Facebook and Twitter?
For Facebook, I'm always really proud when dealerships are creative enough to view their offline initiatives with an online lens. One of my favorite examples was a "donation per like" campaign which was very successful.
Since almost everyone has their Twitter account set to "public," and since Twitter has such excellent advanced search capabilities, we recommend having hyper-local advanced searches set up in a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. That way the searches always stay there and update themselves; all the dealership has to do is look at the feed each day and decide where they can join the conversation. Questions have been answered resulting in cars being sold through this approach.
Do you recommend that dealerships have a social media specialist who does all of the posting, or should every salesperson participate?
There is no one-size-fits-all model. Some dealerships have a lot of people interested in social media, so naturally they form a social media team -- some as large as four-five people -- while others have just one person working on it. But in terms of best practices, it is good to have one key contact who is really the heart and soul of the dealership's social media efforts to champion it across the company and vet what's being put out there for a consistent tone -- this would be the main person monitoring and posting to the dealership's social channels, as well as the main person asking different departments for what he or she needs to make those social efforts successful.
Sometimes this key contact is a salesperson. Sometimes it's someone in parts and service. Sometimes it's the marketing manager. No matter who it is, they need to be interested in and passionate about social media. That's the No. 1 criteria.