Internet

Lock. Load. Engage.

Auto_Dealer_Social_Network_SmallOK. So you have your social media presence set up. You’re on the right track. You are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TUMBLR, Flickr and wherever else you have found.

Now we have to build your fan base and followers. How do we do that? Through engagement, that’s how. Engagement is a tricky process, but will have great rewards if you do it right.

Engagement in this regard, means the interaction between the follower/fan and the dealership. Often it is a daunting task, but once it gets rolling, it will most likely steamroll, as long as you stick with it and continue to encourage engagement through creative ideas. I will be discussing things I personally have done in the past that have worked well. I invite you to try them and build from them. These will get you started and from there, you will hopefully run with it in a creative direction of your own.

Lock. Load. Engage. 

Firstly, contests are a great way to reward your followers. It’s also a terrific way to add followers. Have contests where the entrant must like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter in order to qualify. Make sure the contest is fun and that the prize is rewarding. The bigger the prize, the more chance you have at earning the interest of new followers. A free oil change as a prize may earn you, say, 10 new followers while an iPad may earn you 500 new followers. Examples of some contests to do are: Recipe contest. Photo contest (Pets, Kids, Your make car, etc …). Fan of the Week contest. Get creative with it. The more fun and easier it is, the more interaction you will get.

I am a big fan of humanization of the dealership in social media. Car dealerships and auto sales associates are often spoken with and thought of with negative connotations. You can change that view of your followers. Show them you are “humans” like them. Show them you can have fun at your job. Tasteful humor is often a great ice-breaker in many situations. (I will go into that a little later.) How do you show them you are human? One of my favorites is candid shots. Employees of the dealership being photographed while working, doing fun stuff, extra-curricular activities (business appropriate) such as a sports league or work related event. These kinds of photos help show you are “real people” just like the customers, show you can have some fun and often strike up conversation and engagement. I’ve actually been told by co-workers that customers have been in the dealership and mentioned the pictures I took of them and uploaded to Facebook.

Everyone has seen the GM or Sales Associate on video telling them about themselves. Try something different. I have done in the past, “Get To Know Our Staff” segments, where the fan/follower, customer, employee, etc … ask the questions. I would take say the GM. Post his picture, name and position out there and have your followers ask questions of that person that they might want to know. Questions can range from “What is your favorite color?” to position specific questions like “How do I check my oil” for a service technician. The questions are then collected and asked of this employee while they answer on video. This is an interactive video where the customers are involved and helps them connect with individuals at your dealership. This was a success during the time that I ran it.

These are just a few successful methods I’ve used. Don’t be afraid to be creative. If you are a social media manager for your dealership or workplace, come up with some fun ideas and run them by your management team to get their approval, and get up and running!

  • this article was published in Social Dealership Magazine

So you want to be social?

facebook_fan_pageA few years ago, there were countless dealerships and automotive people saying “Social media is just a ‘fad’ and won’t last.” Well, it’s still here and it’s lasted. The dealerships that thought out of the box and jumped on board are reaping the benefits of it while the other dealerships are now scrambling and trying to create a social media presence. Sure, not every dealership did it well. Some made mistakes and had to learn from them. Some are better at it than others. The more willing and creative these dealerships and their Social Media Managers are, the more chance at success they have.

What are you talking about Jay? I created my Facebook page years ago. – Creating a social media presence is more than just creating the profiles and occasionally making some posts. Being social is about engaging and interacting with your audience on a regular basis: your customers, your potential customers, your fans and friends. You are creating online relationships. The best way for you to establish this is to have a person or team in charge of this responsibility. Hire a Social Media Manager (aka Community Manager), add it as a responsibility to your Internet Department or hire an outside company that specializes in Social Media.

Social Media has become a part of our everyday life for most and with the ease of access through smart phones & tablets, more people are on it and more frequently. Creating and maintaining a social media presence is about getting your name out there (brand awareness) and connecting with people. Use it to create and establish relationships with customers and potential customers. Use it as a customer relations tool. Manage your online reputation with it. Many use Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinion about an experience at a dealership, wouldn’t it be nice to show some feedback? Thank them for their business and positive feedback. Answer back quickly and try to resolve complaints. Use it to showcase your staff and vehicles (in a social & fun way). Run contests and be active in the community.

If you are not currently utilizing social media to its advantage, I would suggest starting off with the “Big 3” as I would like to call them. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Auto_Dealer_Social_Network_SmallFacebook is currently the largest and most popular social media website. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the World. I would strongly suggest starting here. Create and maintain a profile and/or fan page. Here you can share status messages, links, photos & videos. This is where you can most easily interact with customers and find potential customers.

Twitter is a “micro-blog” social media website where you post status updates within 140 characters or less. It may take some getting used to with the character limit, but if done right, it is a very effective way of getting your message out there. Communication and conversation is key.

YouTube is a video sharing website that is highly searchable being owned by Google. You are going to want to create fun, short, quality videos with a great title containing a few important, relevant keywords and relevant “tags”. Viral content can spread fast, so make sure your video is portraying the message you want it to in a fun and/or educational way.

Just please remember, Social Media is “social” … A one-sided conversation will have people tuning you out. Converse, interact, engage.

  • this article was published in Social Dealership Magazine

Turn a Negative Review into a Positive

With all these online review sites popping up all over the place, many businesses and companies are so afraid of the negative reviews. Embrace the negativity. The negative reviews are, believe it or not, a good thing.

Online Negative ReviewPrior to these online review sites, people would often complain and/or give negative reviews through word-of-mouth to their friends and family. It was nearly impossible to track. Once a customer was lost, the majority of the time the company had no idea.

Now, the negative reviews and lost customers are out there and are right in front of you. If you manage your online reputation properly, you will see them in real-time and will know when it happens. You now have more of a chance to reach out to them, correct the situation and hopefully bring them back as customers.

Negative reviews happen for many reasons. Bad experience, customer felt unappreciated, the employee was having a bad day, the customer was having a bad day, the manager didn’t resolve a problem properly, etc … Whatever it is, most of the time, if handled properly, reaching out to a customer that has left a negative review, and/or resolving the problem with a viable solution and maybe some kind of reward for bringing the matter to your attention or for their inconvenience will change their mind.

Facebook Photos Gets A Flickr Makeover

facebook logo.pngFacebook Photos is receiving a makeover. Improvements include hi-res photos, photo-download links, bulk tagging options and an elegant lightbox interface for viewing images from anywhere on the site. These upgrades will more than likely help Facebook Photos compete with Flickr. Flickr has had the advantage over Facebook for quite some time, due to the fact that Facebook photos were best for capturing memories of places, people and events through small images and mobile snapshots. With the changes, Facebook Photos will more than likely attract photographers, models, graphic design portfolios and others that want to display their portfolios to the world.

Photos will be uploaded and downloaded in sizes up to 2048 pixels wide or high, compared to the current 720 pixels that larger photos get resized to. Each photo will now also have a link to download the Hi-Res JPEG files.

The site’s new bulk tagging options will allow the uploading individual to temporarily group images and tag friends by simply clicking on thumbnails.

The lightbox user interface will now be displayed anywhere on Facebook you clock an image. In your News Feed, in an album, on your friend’s Wall. A hovering black box displays the photo with minimal navigation controls and relevant social features.

facebook lightbox

Now, while this is an upgrade from the current Facebook Photos, a few questions come to my mind. With the hi-res photos being uploaded and displayed, the download capability and the amount of new users this might attract, will Facebook servers be able to handle it? Will it strain the servers and slow down the speed of the sometimes already slow site?

We also hope that there is a privacy setting where you can prevent your pictures from being downloaded. Will we as users be able to opt-in or out of the hi-res upload and download feature?

Source: Mashable

New Company Profiles on LinkedIn

linkedin1.jpgEarlier this year, LinkedIn gave users the ability to follow companies in addition to following users. Originally, to follow a company profile on LinkedIn, was much like company pages on Facebook. You were able to receive a stream of news and information from the companies that you chose to follow.

Now, users can the follow how the company has grown on the site over time, as well as the employees of the company. News, information about the company, location, Google Maps, recent blog posts, recents tweets and company profile overview, are all now visible and some of the information available. You can also see the composition of the company’s employee base, including statistics about the employees’ job functions, educational degree, years of experience and university attended. Finally, users can see their connection with the company and its employees, and how it changed over time.

Also added to the company profile is a Careers Tab, which gives users a way to check out what job opening have recently been posted from that company, as well as learn about the company’s hiring practices.

These changes are a very welcome addition for serious LinkedIn users, as they emphasize what LinkedIn is all about: making it easier to connect with other professionals and companies as well as find new career opportunities. However, the new statistics provided by LinkedIn will also be invaluable for tracking how a company is evolving over time with regards to its employee base.

Twitter Surpasses MySpace

twitterAccording to new data from comScore Inc.Twitter passed MySpace in traffic from unique users by a small margin last month. Twitter had nearly 96 million unique visitors in August, up 76% from the same period last year, comScore said. MySpace, meanwhile, dropped 17% during the same period, to 95 million unique visitors last month.

Keep in mind, this data does not account for the visits that Twitter receives from third-party applications and websites such as TweetDeckHootSuite and Seesmic. With this reasoning, Twitter’s actual reach might be higher than the numbers from comScore imply. A newly revamped Twitter website interface is hoping to bring those third-party users directly to Twitter.com which should increase the number of unique visitors the site receives now and in the future.

Also according to this data, Twitter has now become the third ranking social networking-type service in the world behind Facebook and Windows Live. Facebook grew by 54% to 598 million unique visitors in August, and Microsoft’s Windows Live Profile, which integrates with the company’s web-based email and other services, had more than 140 million visitors. Facebook has a strong-hold on the #1 social networking-type service in terms of traffic by unique users.

“Any comparisons between MySpace and other Internet services are irrelevant as MySpace’s mix of offerings is uniquely different and specifically focused on audiences under the age of 35,” said Rosabel Tao, a MySpace spokeswoman, in a statement.

Twitter is a social publishing and news discussion platform more than anything, while MySpace is attempting to position itself as a destination for young people to discover new music, movies and games. Both appeal to brands that want to reach new people, but they’re very different tools for very different kinds of brands.

Carolyn Penner, a Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement: “While we generally don’t comment on third-party statistics, the growth measured by others doesn’t surprise us. We’re seeing 370,000 new accounts a day.”

Twitter’s growth and milestone of passing MySpace is hoped to be used to woo marketers that could use the service to target relevant ads to consumers interested in real-time information about breaking events and other topics. Twitter has already cashed in on its numerous users with Promoted Tweets, and now it will reach out to businesses with the “Promoted Accounts” system, which allows companies to buy visibility among their target market’s “Who to Follow” suggestions.

Source: Wall Street Journal | Mashable


          

Optimize Linking for SEO: 10 Useful Tips for New Sites

SEOThe way you link, both internally and externally from your site, is crucial for achieving results in today’s competitive market. Proper linking can give you the advantage you need when it comes to search engine ranking and those all-important hits on your site.

As SEO experts are bound to point out, it’s a process that needs to be carried on over time and considered whenever you make any changes to your site. As a new site you’ll need strategies to assist you in climbing the ladder to good Internet ranking placement as quickly as possible.

Here are 10 very useful tips on links and linking architecture for anyone with an interest in SEO, and if you’re involved in marketing of any kind over the Internet, then that’s you.

1. Think About Who Links to You

You’ll already know the value of reputation when it comes to marketing your product or service. If sites that are associated with good quality products are clearly seen by users and search engines to link to your own then this will reflect well on you.

Pay close attention to the number of .com and .co.uk sites that link to you, for example, and think carefully about ways in which you can encourage others to do likewise.

2. Think About Who You Link to

The same rules as before. Linking to good quality sites reflects well on your own. Keep up to date with innovations and developments and stay relevant with fresh links on your pages. Try to develop a balanced portfolio of links on your site.

3. Avoid Broken Links

As part of ongoing site maintenance for SEO you should be aware of any links that are no longer in use and remove them from your site.

4. Think About Relevance

This is very important. Link to sites with a clear relevance to your own only. Search engines pay special attention to this, as do users, and every irrelevant link on your page is detrimental.

5. Internal Links

Think about internal links and whether your site is user friendly. Make the most of internal links and get some advice from SEO experts about ways to link internally that will benefit your site’s ranking.

6. Maps

Think about linking back to homepage and site maps. Make your site as easily navigable as possible. This will encourage users and benefit your site as search engines see these links when they probe it. A map is a useful way to introduce internal links and make the site easier to get around.

7. Link Building

Think about the use of exact match terms for link building. Build links using exactly matching anchor text. Remember though, don’t get carried away – an excess use of keywords can be as bad as a lack. Using terms you want to rank for and that summarize the topic referred to, in moderation, can strengthen the ratings of your site by search engines.

Find a balance and use your senses. If you feel that you’ve gone overboard with repeated words or phrases in your internal links then you probably have.

8. Avoid Cloaking

Search engines are increasingly sophisticated at detecting ‘black hat’ or unscrupulous SEO techniques. While it may be tempting to improve your popularity on the net by attracting unwitting visitors to your site, be aware that techniques that accomplish this can get you into trouble.

Users and search engines are alike in their approach to cloaking – they don’t accept or tolerate it. Stay within the boundaries to avoid problems.

9. Look at Where Your Competitors Link

This is legal and it can give you an advantage or at least level the playing field somewhat when it comes to links.

10. Strategize

Have a solid strategy for linking to, from and within your site. Think before you link and use every intelligent strategy at your disposal. Getting advice from website optimization specialists can really help.

5 Tips for Dealing with Complaints on Twitter

 

We hope that you and your business will never need this information, but “just in case”, it’s good to be prepared.Twitter Complaint Every business, blogger, and the rest of us on social media have experienced it: someone just called you out on Twitter or in a blog. It’s all too easy to get frustrated and respond with something that will just make the situation worse (“I’ll give you a refund right away… oh wait, you didn’t actually pay for this!”) or to take it personally and get upset.

While there is no magic formula for dealing with complaints in social media, I do have a few tips that have helped me.


1. A Quick Response Goes a Long Way


Twitter ComplaintsI can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve seen turned around with a quick reply. If someone has an issue with your product or misunderstood your point of view, reach out and explain it to them. Most of the time when they realize that you’re actually paying attention and care, that makes all the difference (for the rest of the time, see number five).

Of course, this assumes you are actually paying attention. So if you’re not, you might want to look into ways to monitor your brand on social media.


2. You May Have To Respond As You, Not Your Company


When someone has a legitimate complaint, I’ve found one of the most effective things to do is reach out from your personal account. In my experience, when they realize they’re dealing with a real person who’s trying to help, people are more open and willing to listen. This shouldn’t be done for every complaint, as some people will never be turned around, but I’ve found when there’s a real, resolvable issue this method often works much better.


3. Give Yourself More Than 140 Characters To Respond


At times, it’s just impossible to help someone in 140 characters. Or it’s possible, but you would have to be really terse — which is definitely not going to make you seem understanding. Instead, ask them how to connect off Twitter (shocking, I know). Shoot the complainant an e-mail or even give them a call and you’ll be surprised how far a little outreach goes.


4. Let Someone Else Respond For You


If there’s no way you can respond in a helpful way — e.g., if it would make you seem self-serving or maybe you’ve already tried and failed — it can be helpful to have someone else speak up for you.

If you have haters, you probably also have fans, and they’re probably very willing to spring to your defense. Maybe they’ve even already done, in which case, their response might be much more effective than yours and you can just leave well enough along.

If they haven’t already responded, consider bringing the issue to the attention of a few of your fans. Do so carefully and cautiously. Only do it with people you have actual relationships with and only in a lightweight, non-pushy way. I find the best way is actually just to privately ask for feedback on a complaint — maybe it has merit and you don’t realize it or maybe they can help you understand what’s going on.


5. Know When To Let It Go


The truth is, you simply won’t be able to turn everyone around. The trick (I’m still working on it) is to not let it get to you. No business or person is going to make it without having a few haters — so if you have some, you might just be doing something right. Just don’t take that line of thinking too far!

Bottom line, the complainers won’t go away, but you can choose how you deal with them. Some of them will be legitimate complaints from reasonable people that will be touched when you reach out quickly and earnestly to help them. Others… well you know what they say: “Haters gonna hate.”

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Originally posted on Mashable.com Megan Berry is Marketing Manager for Klout, the standard for online influence. She also blogs at The Huffington Post and Brazen Careerist. You can follow her on Twitter at @meganberry.