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Video SEO. What it is, and why you can't afford not to do it.

Dealer Marketing Magazine - April Edition.

A customer that’s right for your dealership is looking for new car. They’re visiting web sites and doing research that leads them to video about exactly the type of vehicle they’re searching for, or is conquesting to show the benefit of another. There’s just one problem. That video is from your competitor and somehow has managed to land in front of your potential customer at exactly the moment they wanted to see it.

What happened here? Your competitor got smart and engaged in a Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) program.

On line video viewing and streaming are seeing tremendous growth on the web right now. On YouTube alone, it is said that over 20 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute, and about 120 decades of video are uploaded each year. According to January 2011 Nielsen data, viewers streamed 28% more video and spent 45% more time watching than one year ago. Total video streams also saw significant year-over-year growth, up 31.5% to 14.5 billion streams.

Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) is the process of optimizing your dealerships video content to receive maximum traffic and the highest possible organic ranking on the search engines. Following are some tips and information to keep in mind to launch and maintain a successful VSEO strategy for your dealership.

(1) Make your video a good advice piece. Keep it short and sweet (no one wants to sit thru a three or four minute video on a search landing page).

(2) Make it easy for the viewer to take the next step by including a URL in every single frame with a call to action. Or, better yet, build a landing page for every video you produce. Optimize the page with the tags, content, keywords, file name. Use analytics to test how long people are staying on the page.

(3) Use a constant video description that is keyword rich across all sites. Utilize thumbnails. Show your call to action - phone number. Have your video producer put the call to action at the 1/4 mark, 1/2 mark and 3/4 mark

(4) Make it ready for TV, but see if you can add a twist to make give it a ‘viral’ component.

(5) Update your content frequently. It matters.

(6) Remember, people don't watch "one" video, they watch “batches” of videos. The real secret to ranking in Youtube is to be connected to other content. To do this, find related videos, and get connected.

(7) Get it out there. Talk about your video in social sites, press releases or go a step farther and embed your videos in press releases. Also keep in mind that video can be very effective for reputation management.

(8) Get help if you need it. As you can see, there is a lot more to this then handing a cell phone or a cheap camera to your lot guy or salesperson and telling them to ‘go shoot something’. How the videos are presented and posted is as important (maybe even more important) then the actual content (and this is critical step many dealerships are missing). If your dealership is large enough to have a dedicated person willing and able to learn these techniques great. If not, consider hiring an outside firm to help you.

Done correctly and consistently, a modest investment in VSEO will provide a strong search return component and deliver your message right to potential customers ready to hear it.

Have fun and happy selling.

Ed Steenman is owner of Steenman Associates that provides traditional and digital media services to automotive dealerships and dealer groups nationally. Ed is available to speak to 20 groups or other related events and can be reached at or his website

We've been invited to Automotive Marketing Boot Camp

I'm off to the Automotive Marketing Boot Camp in Orlando as the guest contributor for Dealer Marketing Magazine. I'll be visiting as many seminars and events as I can cram in and reporting on everything that happening with instant updates on twitter @greenhuman and also the DMM facebook page. The event begins April 16th. More details as we get closer.

Auburn Volkswagen - A Social Media Story

In this post, we thought we’d focus on the efforts of a single point auto dealer who’s been actively using Facebook to cultivate customer relationships and what that has meant for them in terms of customer communication, retention and sales.

Auburn Volkswagen is a single point Volkswagen dealership located in Auburn, Washington a suburb of Seattle. General Manager Matt Welch first hired our team to build “Dynamic Pages” for his store. As we covered in our last article here in DMM, these ‘Dynamic Pages’ essentially places the entire content of his dealerships website inside the Facebook environment. User can browse inventory, build a vehicle, and even schedule a service appointment on-line without ever leaving the Facebook. Beyond these “dynamic pages” the store also actively engages the local community with regular ‘Wall Posts” including everything from brand information to humorous ‘outtakes and bloopers’ of their TV commercials, even the company Christmas video!

The result? Over 675 fans to date (and growing), active comments, and some wonderful new customer interaction. General Manager Matt Welch shares just one example: “Just the other day, a Jetta customer posted on her own page that she had a flat tire. It was raining, a cold miserable day. Because she was a friend on Facebook, our sales manager could see her post, and took the initiative to contact her, and offer to drive out to help her with a new tire. She was so excited, not only about the tire, but the fact that we took the time to help her that her next post was “I LOVE AUBURN VOLKSWAGEN!!!!!”. All of her friends saw her post, as well as all of our fans (over 800 people total). According to Matt “You can’t buy that kind of positive publicity, and it all happened because of Facebook.“

Welch reports he get emails every day on Facebook with customer comments and, estimates his store does two or three new car deals a month directly as a result of his presence on there. Not bad for a media portal where the only cost is a little time and creativity. And one who’s influence is sure to grow.

It pays to advertise, right? (click for a larger view)


by Ed Steenman for Dealer Marketing Magazine

This month I’m going to tackle a topic certain to raise some eyebrows - our vision for the posting of the ‘daily wall posts” on facebook and daily ‘tweets’ on twitter. This is the part of your social media website that is ever changing, the updated ‘short form’ content - often with links to other websites or areas. What makes this subject controversial is that there are few official ‘rules’, and if you were to sit down with ten social media ‘gurus’ I predict you’d get ten different ‘expert opinions’ on the ‘correct’ things to include.

From my perspective, it’s easy to rush straight to the activity of posting, while glossing over the necessary underlying strategy needed for any advertising or publicity project. In it most base form, ask the question; ‘what is the expected outcome or goal from what we’re doing? But before you bellow out “sell more cars!” let me suggest that the term ‘closing the sale’ reminds us that there is also a beginning and middle to the selling process. We must remember to apply this same kind of metric to our social media programs so as to not short circuit the process.

Now, shift your focus the other way for a minute and ask yourself the million dollar question ‘why would anyone want to ‘fan’ or ‘like’ your business? Simply put, WFIM (what’s in it for me) posed from the perspective of someone choosing to ‘opt in’ to receive your content. Put this question and the ‘sales process’ together and you begin to see where the road leads.

People patronize businesses based on lots of factors. Certainly price, convenience and location are important. Beyond that, people also buy from people they ‘like’, shop at places their ‘friends’ recommend, and choose companies that ‘share’ their values. Note how the words ‘like’, “friend’ and ‘share’ are all common terms in the social media space.

In short, you should be presenting content that will help people to ‘like’ you, show that you ‘share’ their values, and that doing business with you is something their ‘friends’ would approve. This is tough concept for salespeople who only want to focus on the immediate sale in front of them, and is another reason why we advise dealerships to use a combination of internal and external ‘brand ambassadors’ for their social media programs.

Here are some examples of things to post: Information about what your store or your people are out doing in your community; Customer testimonials about what it’s like to do business with you; also relevant brand content your customer will find of interest. In the end, your wall posts or updates should reflect your stores ‘personality’ to compliment all that other ‘hard information’ on product, price, etc. that is available elsewhere. Our recommended goal for your program is engage shoppers with the hope to increase the value of doing business with you in their minds prior to ever walking through your door.

Think of your daily social media updates as another step in time honored ‘sales process’ and you’ll be on the right track for a successful social media program.

What is twitter and how can I use it for my store

Dealer Marketing Magazine- December 2010
By Ed Steenman Twitter: @greenhuman

Usually when a dealer asks about social media, they are really asking about facebook. ‘Twitter’ gets mentioned almost as an afterthought. That’s too bad because, as I have personally discovered, Twitter is a powerful social media tool in its own right. As a starting point, let’s being with a definition of what Twitter is (courtesy of Wikipedia);”Twitter is a website, which offers a social networking and micro-blogging service, enabling its users to send and read other users' messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user's profile page. Users may subscribe to other users' tweets—this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers.”

Think of Twitter as your own personal ‘broadcast channel ‘ where you control the programming in 140 characters. People (viewers) can elect to look at your tweets on a one time basis – or agree to receive your messaging on an ongoing basis. This is a significantly different from facebook because they don’t need your permission to follow you, and, as a user, you can track tweets from places like Ford Motor Company (@Ford) to your friend next door. From a user perspective, it’s a bit like having a newspaper in real time customized with subjects you’re interested in.

Twitter is a very searchable environment (in my view, the Twitter search bar is set up to look very similar to google- simple, clean and to the point and is a real opportunity) and operates much more like a traditional newspaper or newsfeed than other social media. However, keep in mind that Twitter is a very short form world so it’s important to “headline oriented” in your messaging (use links to provide more in depth content). It’s also crucial in setting up your account to have a good ‘handle’ as well as a profile that telegraphs your business, product or service. This is important because users tend to scan your profile and tweets very quickly to decide if you are interesting enough to them to follow.

As far as what to Tweet on an on going basis:

(1) If you can establish yourself as a credible expert source, followers will find you. Whenever possible be sure to use #HASHTAGS which is a feature that unites global Tweets around a particular topic (ie: green cars, Subarus, or whatever). Using #HASHTAGS also adds additional context and metadata to your tweets (good for SEO). (2) Tweet the news! About your dealership, your people and – YES- your inventory! The number of ‘classified car ads’ on twitter is growing daily, as well as lots of car reviews and helpful information being viewed by active shoppers within twitter environment - so don’t be shy to post your inventory as part of your mix of information.

(3) Tweet often. Remember, while your tweets are stored on your home page (and hopefully with #HASHTAG to aid search), most users will see them as part of scrolling feed so they have a short shelf life in that regard.

(4) It’s okay to have fun sometimes, it doesn’t have to be all business.

Most importantly, listen and respond - you’ll be amazed at how fast the conversations start.

Cover Interview for Dealer Marketing Magazine

October 2010; Dealer Marketing Magazine.

Here are the actual interview questions and our responses from our front page cover story in the October issue of Dealer Marketing Magazine. You can read the final edited article at

Why is it important for dealers to be involved with social media?
Steenman: You need to be where people are and more than 500 million of them are utilizing social media on a regular basis.

How has social media changed consumer buying behavior?

Steenman: Social media has changed consumer buying behavior significantly. One example is the level to which customer generated information about your dealership is now being shared. The experience a customer had with your business, and how they felt about it (huge) is now almost a standard part of the next customers buying process. It used to be these types of reviews were sometimes suspect, but the standards and level of transparency required by social media sites have trained customers that it’s okay to use their real identity in these types of postings.

Which forms of social media (facebook, blogs, reviews, chat, etc.) have the most benefit for auto dealers and which forms have the least?
Steenman: These days, it’s becoming more about what others say about you than what you say about yourself. From a consumer point of view they want both sides of the story; yours, and what other customers have to say about you. If you don’t actively participate in the social media, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to be a part of the second conversation.

Can dealers benefit from partnering with social media experts?
Steenman: This is fast moving landscape and not one you can embrace on a casual basis. There’s just too much at stake. Someone outside the dealership has a much broader and more consumer driver perspective as well as a better understanding of how to grow and protect the dealership ‘brand’. Contrast the example of an employee who’s objective is to ‘just sell cars’against having professional ‘brand ambassador’. One is (rightly from their perspective) focused only on ‘making car deals’ while the other sees the value in talking about the dealership involvement in the community, or the service specials the dealership is offering that month, or about a new vehicle the manufacture is developing that is of interest to enthusiasts, or reputation management. It’s a completely different perspective. And then there’s the legal stuff. Sites like facebook make fairly dramatic rule changes on what you can and can’t do with your site and if you’re not actively following this, your site can get shut down quickly.

How do you see social media marketing integrating with internet marketing and traditional marketing?
Steenman: It’s absolutely crucial to integrate them and this is unfortunately an area of disconnect with a lot of dealers. Face it, the consumer is going to use multiple platforms (traditional media, mobile media, social media) in their interaction and information gathering phases of their buying cycle so your message needs to be consistent across multiple platforms.

What kind of content, and how much of it, should dealers post to their social media sites?
Steenman: While we’ve seen a variety of approaches, probably the biggest mistake a dealership can make is to treat social media like another ‘push’ media and acting as if it’s like a newspaper ad with a listing of cars. The thing to remember above all is that this is ‘opt in’ media the consumer has chosen to be there, and can just as easily chose to hide your feed or opt back out. The content needs to engage the end user, not the dealer who is posting it.

What is the best use of online chat technology?
Steenman: We don’t have a lot of experience with real time chat – yet, but rule number one would be to make sure that you are clear in your communication to the consumer about it’s availability and response time. There is nothing more frustrating that clicking the ‘chat online now’ button only to have the ‘not available now’ response occur.

Portland to Portland Green Test Drive. What we did and why we did it.

The Green Human team drove a 2009 Clean Burning Diesel Jetta and a 2008 Toyota Hybrid across the country almost 8,000 through a wide variety of terrain and conditions from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon via the Eastern seaboard, Florida and Colorado.

Our goal was not to repeat previous tests, nor to challenge previous results. There are already lots of reviews and stats on each vehicle which anyone with an internet connection and enough time on their hands can read and use to support their own conclusions. We chose instead to do an “experiential” experiment where our objective was to intensively drive and experience the cars in a real world environment traveling a significant distance over a relatively short time.

For those of you solely fixated on stats, the MPG part of this was that the CBTDI Jetta acheived an average of 41.4 MPG against the Prius 40.96 MPG (corrected).

Honestly, this isn't great mileage for EITHER vehicle, I usually get a good 44- 48 MPG on my '06 TDI that I drive here in the Northwest (combo city/highway) and I won't even start on the Prius stats I'm sure the good folks over at 'PriusChat' can (and probably will) throw at me. But they are what they are - and we promised transparancy. Remember, we drove these cars HARD like real people - not like a bunch of hyper-milers or MPG gauge watchers. The journey inherently contained a lot of highway mileage - we typically drove at or over the speed limit (like real people do) and while we did switch drivers on a fair and regular interval - we drove both cars with a heavy foot.

For us, this challenge wasn’t about mileage – as we said, the internet is filled with that stuff – for us the real “test” in our case, was a (Green) Human one. Traveling 8,000 miles in a few short weeks amounting to a lot of driving and gave our testers the chance to really get to know each vehicle. The challenge was about cars and PEOPLE.

Speaking only for myself, I personally liked the Prius more than I thought I would. It was extremely quiet, and performed better than I expected. I went through the whole “Jetta versus Prius” thing a couple of years ago when I was shopping for a new car (yes, I ended up buying an 06 Jetta TDI but that was after LOTS of visits to different dealers and even more research and deliberation). One reason at the time was the feeling that the Prius had somewhat of an “anti-car” along the lines of “we know you think cars and pollution are bad so we designed one you can hate less” versus the Jetta’s “we know you love to drive so here’s one more reason you can feel good about doing it”. I think in the interceding years the Prius has evolved and become more “driver friendly” although for pure highway driving, and focusing only on the driving experience and not things like mileage, at the end of it all I still felt the Jetta offering more "driving enjoyment and fun" on this trip.

The other team members had their own opinions which they will share in their posts.

Remember, these are just our OPINIONS and anyone seeking a “greener” vehicle should FIND OUT FOR THEMSELVES by getting behind the wheel of BOTH cars and seeing what they personally like best. “Clean burning diesels” and “Hybrids” are both moving targets and while Toyota and VW are both leaders, other manufacturers are also thankfully continuing to push that envelope gaining lower pollution levels and better fuel economy with each generation. There’s a place at the table for BOTH technologies.

Until now, Hybrids have been about the ONLY (50 State) answer to get better mileage out of light duty passenger vehicles, not even considering that a great portion of the vehicles out there are diesel because they need to be diesel to do what they do (haul freight or whatever). So gaining fuel economy and cleaner burning emissions with diesel undisputedly has a place at the table, and the new clean burning TDI Jetta is a fantastic evolution of that line of technology. And Biodiesel, whether from waste or feedstock represents another option that, over time as it develops, can play a significant role in our overall goal of lessening our dependence of foreign fossil fuel.

That's my view - but this is an interactive challenge and of course I'm very interested in anyone's reactions to this. Thanks again to everyone who helped us out and showed us kindness along the way. This was a great event that we were proud to be a part of.

Reader Survey - The Results Are In.

Thanks to the 756 visitors to the site who participated in our "reader survey" poll. According to the results, 61% of you (463) prefer the Prius Hybrid over the Clean Burning TDI. Of course, the results of the poll are completely SUBjective, and that's okay!

First off, the whole point of this journey is to promote the idea that BOTH the Prius and TDI represent viable fuel efficient "green" alternatives to current non-hybrid gasoline powered vehicles (fuel efficient cars are less than 6% of the total vehicles out there today). And it's great to have choices, depending on whether you do mostly city driving where the Prius excels, or (like me) mostly highway driving where the benefits of clean burning diesel really shine.

But fuel efficiency is only ONE element of the driving experience, creature comforts, performance (read power), styling and what I term "fun to drive-ness" are also important.

I'd love to hear from anyone that voted WHY they liked one vehicle more than the other, and especially hear from anyone that has owned or spent any time behind the wheel of BOTH alternatives.

Lastly, we'll be posting the GREEN HUMAN TEAM observations and comments on the drive very shortly.