Social Media Marketing: Creating a Community
While this was originally re-purposed for a post on Media Crush I wanted to share it on my Blog as well.
As a partner at Media Crush and New Car Networks we are always keeping our eye and ears wide open for any disruptions in the force.
In recent posts authorDavid Johnson has had a LOT to say about Social Media in the Automotive industry. In his post “Creating Word-Of-Mouth Through The Creation Of Community” we find so much community in our perspectives on methods to achieve great results. Perhaps you are already ahead of the curve and are already working on developing a community – if so congratulations for getting it! If you read this article and want some help in finding a path to success get in touch with Media Crush / Media Garage / New Car Networks – CLICK HERE we will create a custom plan for you!
Creating, working with and the continued growth of smaller individual communities within the larger brand community is the best way to create word-of-mouth, both online and off. The traditional definition of community was defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location.
With the onset of the internet and web 2.0 in particular we now hear the term global community thrown around a lot, the reason being that we no longer have to be in the same location to form a community.
With that being said the new definition of community would sound more like: a group of interacting people that share a common belief, passion, preference, need or a number of other possible conditions that people can connect around and identify themselves with. It’s important to note that when I refer to the term community that I am referring to a group of people that are passionate (The Social Cause, In Search of A Higher Social Media Calling) about your brand and about spreading positive word-of-mouth about it. In other words the bigger, more passionate and engaged the community is the more business you will have.
When developing an engaged community it’s important to note that there are three types of connections that must be present in order to call your community truly engaged, or at least fully engaged and they are:
- Employee – Community Member
- Employee – Employee
- Community Member – Community Member
While each of the above connections are important we are going to focus solely on the employee – community member connection in this post, after which you will have a better understanding of why it’s important and how to use it to explode the amount of people talking positively about your dealership.
It All Starts With The Face-to-Facers
By definition social networking is the process of connecting with others to create business and/or personal relationships. By and of its self people don’t feel connected with or have any desire to connect with a dealership. Which is why it’s important for the employee – community member connection to take place, it will be the foundation of your community and how you will be better able to influence word-of-mouth, thus increasing your bottom line in both sales and fixed-ops.
The best way to create a community around your dealerships brand is to first have your face-to-facers, that is the people that actually work with customer face-to-face such as your sales people and service advisers, work to develop their own community around their own personal brand. From there they feed the larger brand of the dealership by directing their community members to the dealership-wide community.
As an example both your service advisors and sales people would work to connect and build relationships with their respective customers on Facebook while at the same time referring them to like the dealerships page on Facebook. From there they would interact with their customers on both their own news-feeds/profiles and the dealerships Facebook page. As you know most dealerships have a Facebook page that they are active on but what most fail to realize is that it’s managed by some faceless individual that has no real connection or value with the people that like the page, by having employees interact using their own profiles, on the dealerships Facebook page, it creates a family-like atmosphere that people understand.
The Influence Is In The Relationship
Since I started the last two sections off with a definition I might as well do that here as well with the term relationship: A relationship is an association between two people based on some type of social commitment such as love, family, or regular business interactions.
Sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it? It’s important to note that relationships will usually involve some level of interdependence, which means that people in relationship with each other tend to be influenced by one another, share some of the same thoughts & feelings, and engage with each other.
In fact I can say very simply that if you want to influence more word-of-mouth then you must first be in the type of influential relationship with your customers that they actually want to say positive things about you and your dealership.
Building It From Within
The best way to build a highly engaged, word-of-mouth creating dealership community is to build it from the inside-out. It’s time to take your social media marketing to the next level and integrate it into the daily processes of your day to day business. By doing that one thing you will start to see your efforts being repaid back to you tenfold. Isn’t it about time that you see a return on your social media endeavors?
Then take the time to integrate, strategize and implement it into your every day.
Here’s to your social media success!
ADM Social Media Editor
The Social Cause – In Search Of A Higher Social Media Calling
2010 brought with it main stream social media for the auto industry, some embraced it and ran with it while others (most) knocked their head against the wall wondering what they were doing wrong. 2010 was more or less a trial, a yearlong test in the field of relationship marketing, what did you learn from it? If you’re like a lot of dealers you pushed social media to the side as a failed experiment and went back to what worked, more or less.
Social media has evolved and will continue to evolve, its only constant is change and if you take the time to learn it before you tackle it then you will be behind the moment you start. But, if you harness the human element of social media and stop trying so hard to learn the ever evolving tools, then you are well on your way to building a true social business, one that even the oldest school car dealer can get behind, grasp and run with.
In the beginning social media was seen as an extension of traditional advertising, as a way to get your marketing message heard by even more people, but that quickly fizzled out as you learned that people considered what you were doing as spam and only served to hurt your dealerships reputation. As time progressed you learned that the less you pitch, the more you sell. You learned that in order to build a social following that you needed to engage your online community in other ways, besides just your inventory.
Building A Purpose-Driven Community
Building an online community around the dealerships brand will often lead to failure, as participation is mainly driven by advertising dollars and costly promotions. I’m not taking anything away from this type of “community marketing” because it’s often the best way to get things moving along in the right direction, but what happens if you stop doing promotions ? That’s right, participation stops as well.
By anchoring your social initiatives in something larger than your brand, a higher calling, you drive community participation through passion. By building a purpose-driven community you create a common bonding point between the dealership and it’s community, this is the surest way for community growth, participation, and an increase in ROI (return on influence).
The appeal to a higher calling builds organic growth that unites employees and communities behind a common cause that’s larger than both the dealership and its community members. The higher calling can be a shared passion, a way of life or a cause, as long as it’s something that people can rally behind and feel like their part of.
As an example let’s talk about Metro Honda of Union County and their recent initiative to help fight hunger in their community. Wal-Mart, during their Fighting Hunger campaign, put up $1.5 Million to be donated among the top 6 communities with the most support. $1 Million to number 1 and $100,000 to the next five communities. During that time Metro Honda created videos, sent out emails and engaged their Facebook fans in order to get them to “like” their community. During this time they saw a tremendous increase in their post views, and daily active users.
A lot of dealerships fall into the trap of looking at their “likes” as a gauge as to how well their doing on Facebook, when the best stat to look at is their daily and monthly active users. During the Fighting Hunger campaign Metro Honda saw an increase in their Daily Active Users (people consuming their content) from an average of about 200 per day to over 1000, with their daily post views going from around 5,000 per day to upwards of 25,000! Now that the campaign is over they are still seeing double the number of daily active users and post views than was the case before the campaign begun. That’s the power of a purpose-driven community.
Finding Your Purpose
It’s important when finding a purpose that it’s aligned with who or what the dealership is. It’s important that the cause be the focus and that community members don’t start to think that the only reason you are pushing that specific cause, way or life or passion is because you are trying to earn more business. While that is most certainly the case, don’t approach it with that thought in mind. Instead just give, promote and grow the higher calling. I know that sounds counterintuitive, especially since marketing is all about pushing the dealerships agenda but if you spend your resources pushing fighting hunger, as an example, then you create a bonding point between the dealership and the community. It’s that bonding point that will spur organic growth and create good will.
Going forward, 2011 will see the rise of the human business and dealerships will be wise to approach social media this way or they run the risk of going by the way of the dinosaur. We are in the midst of a relationship economy and more and more people are putting emphasis on what others are saying, what others are thinking and what businesses are part of. Keep in mind that there is more to a dealership than the brick and mortar building, the lot, and the inventory, there are also people, people that make up the business and its the connection between those people and the community that will drive the dealership to new heights in the new year.
Starting today it’s time to redeveloped the core message of your dealership. Make it something community oriented, something that people can rally behind and become part of, something bigger and more grand than all of those involved, an ideal that goes beyond selling cars, beyond selling service and F&I products and becomes part of what people are passionate about.
Digital Marketing Strategist