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.