On October the 21st, Rob Hagen and myself did a webinar for Automotive News entitled “Automotive News Dealer Intelligence Webinar: 10 Ways Social Media Can Help Dealers Boost Their Reputations” This is the second tip, stay tuned for the others!
Social media success lies in creating a strategy and sticking to it. Of course, creating that strategy is easier said than done, that's why I have broken this process down into 4, very important, very powerful steps, that if followed will be the backbone of your social marketing strategy. The 4 steps are:
- Investigate: The first step in defining your strategy is to monitor your market. Figure out what platforms they are using and what they are talking about. What interests them and what are they saying on social platforms.
- Objectives: Define what your objectives are. Do you want more website hits, more phone calls or more service traffic. These objectives must be clearly defined and aligned with metrics. How will you define these objectives?
- Actions: What are the actual actions you will perform to meet these objectives? Will you be blogging, podcasting, or creating videos? How are you going to build your community? It's important when defining your strategy to NOT think about platforms, but instead what must be ACCOMPLISHED to meet your objectives.
- Platforms: Define the platforms that will fit your strategy.
Step 1: Investigate - Investigating your market has never been easier. With the use of Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Hi5 and a number of others you can, in a matter of minutes, find out what's going on in your market.
Join as may local forums and blogs as possible, find out what people are talking about, what interests them and what social networking platforms they frequent. Do you see any trends? Who are the influencers, who do you see on multiple networks, how many comments do you see on local blogs, which ones are the most engaging.
The idea of this step is to find out what interests your market, what specific age groups are doing what so that later, when defining your strategy, you can target different groups. It's on old adage but it hold true here: If you want to catch fish, go to where the fish are.
It's imperative that you take good notes during this step, write everything down, don't skip this step thinking that it's not that important, because it is! In fact, it's probably the most important step.
Step 2: Objectives - Defining your objectives is imperative to any strategy, even more so with social media because of the broad impact it can have on your dealership. When defining your objective try to be as specific as possible. For example one of your objectives could be to double the amount of traffic to your website, or to sell more parts. It could be to increase phone ups or to sell more used cars. Your goal could be to have as many blog posts or videos created about your dealership as possible. Below are some objectives to get you started:
- Increase website traffic
- Increase number of sold units
- Improve search engine results
- Increase phone traffic
- Obtain positive reviews
- Decrease cost per sale
Once you define your objectives make sure to quantify them and come up with a date your objectives should be met by. By quantifying them you should know by how much you want to increase your website traffic or the number of sold units you want to increase by. Be sure to include a date that you want your objectives to be met. Be careful will this, if you are starting from scratch it could take some time for you marketing efforts to take off, this isn't something that will happen overnight.
Keep in mind that you are building a community around your brand and building a community takes time, but once your community is established, objectives will be met quicker and quicker.
When setting objectives, or goals, I like to use the S.M.A.R.T strategy. Odds are you are familiar with it, but let's break it down and discuss how it applies to creating a social media strategy.
Specific- Objectives need to be as specific as possible, to make it easier to set specific goals, think of the 6 W's.
- Who- Who will be involved in the process, who is in charge? Defining who will be implementing specific aspects of your social media strategy is highly important to achieving your goals.
- What- What are you looking to accomplish? What is the actual end that you want to achieve?
- Where- Will your strategy encompass one location or the whole dealer group?
- When- Establish a time frame for specific objectives and when they should be begun or completed.
- Which- If there are any requirements, what are they? Are there any constraints?
- Why- What is the purpose of the objective, what is the benefit?
Measurable- Each objective must be aligned with concrete criteria for measuring progress towards the attainment of the goal.
To determine if your goal is measurable ask yourself questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it's accomplished?
Attainable- Are the objectives obtainable, what's it going to take to reach them?
Realistic- For an objective to be realistic it must be one towards you are both willing and able to work. Keep in mind that a high goal is frequently easier to achieve than a lower one because it exerts a higher level of motivational force.
Timely- When establishing objectives it's important to set them in an achievable timeline. In other words don't try to tackle the whole strategy at once, stagger certain aspects of your strategy so that you can focus your energies instead of spreading your resources thin.
Step 3: Actions - Once you have you objectives set define which actions need to be performed to reach them. Will you be blogging, podcasting, or creating videos? How are you going to build community, which non-competing business are you going to include? It's important, when defining a strategy, not to think about platforms but instead think about what actions need to be accomplished to meet your objectives. This is important because you don't want to think in terms of "how can this platform build community," because then you limit yourself to what that particular platform can do.
Step 4: Choose The Platforms- Now that you have defined your objectives it's time to choose which social platforms you need to use to complete the actions you set in step 3. To define which platforms take a look at the research you did in step 1 along with your objectives from step 2.
Keep in mind that more is not always merrier. If you take on too much at once you will not be able to give a particular platform the attention it deserves. You may be remiss to discount a platform with 2,000 local users but keep in mind that you want to choose a platforms that has both a high numbers of local users and a high amount of interactions.
I think it important, to once again mention, that defining a strategy will be the difference between success and a part time hobby. Don't take what we discussed in this post lightly, it will be what sets you apart from your competition because I can assure you that there aren't many (if any) dealerships out there that are utilizing social media to its fullest.