Social Networking and Reputation Management Strategy for Car Dealers
I’ve started hearing the second worst advice coming from social media “experts” that I’ve ever heard. It’s just a notch above “buy thousands of fans and followers” on the social media advice scale.
If someone tells you to “be sure to post something X-times a day on social media even if you have to throw something up.”
I know it’s bad advice. I used to give it. Thankfully, I learned my lesson before spreading the advice too far. It blows my mind that it’s still being given to unsuspecting clients today, though, because it has become pretty well-known that on many social media sites, Facebook in particular, a poor and wasteful post can actually do more harm than if you skip a post or two.
Quality is everything. EdgeRank (we’ll use the term for lack of a better word even though Facebook says it’s not reflective of the current algorithm yet they don’t give us a name for the new one – /rant) is extremely fickle, particularly for pages. You get limited opportunities to impress your fans and friends of fans. Any time you blow one of those opportunities through a wasted post, you’re actually harming the chance of future posts to perform.
In other words, every single thing that you post on Facebook should serve a very distinct purpose. Every single thing you post on Facebook should be of the highest possible quality. Every single thing that you post to Facebook must be something that does one of three things:
There should be no filler posts. There should be no RSS feeds. There should be no integration of Tweets that land on your Facebook page (or visa versa). The difference between a page that carefully selects and crafts every single post versus one that tries most of the time but gets lazy sometimes is like night and day. Every single wasted post hurts the exposure of future posts. Conversely, every single outstanding post helps future posts see more daylight.
Our strategy is pretty simple in concept though a little complex in how it is applied. Here is a quick breakdown of each of the three types:
There’s a mentality that goes into relevant message posts. It doesn’t have to be relevant to you. It definitely has to be relevant to your fans. In the example above, the message was extremely relevant for this Dallas car dealer. It was a couple of days before the make or break game for the Dallas Cowboys. One simple image faded in the background. One simple message. It was a message that was important to the fans, the vast majority of whom resided in the Dallas area.
Unfortunately for the fans of both the team and the dealership, the Cowboys lost, but it was still great of the company to show their support for the local team. Relevance is about your fans, your customers. It’s easiest to find relevant things to post about by staying in the local area or state. These messages should never be generic. They cannot be something that everyone else is posting. Put the effort in. In this case, the effort wasn’t a lot – find an image (make sure to credit the original source!) and put the relevant message on top of it. Simple, but effective.
In the instance above, there are two things at play. The image is of a hot rod smoking the tires, but the message is talking about tire maintenance. There’s an opportunity to get two different kinds of likes as a result because it combines a great image with a useful message. The tip itself isn’t extraordinary, but it’s enough to get it a handful of likes even prior to promoting it on Facebook.
Entertain, educate, or both. That’s the mentality with these types of posts, and for many pages the strategy will dictate that these will be the most prevalent. Stick to your expertise and/or industry with these posts. There is a distinct temptation and even a common practice by many to try to revert to whatever is potentially popular. They’ll post funny images of cats. Avoid this practice. As hard as we may try to blend our pages into the whole Facebook mix by posting content that can be shared, when you go off topic you create a potential of missing the expectations of your fans. They may even feel a bit betrayed; if they’re going to follow a car dealer’s Facebook page, they expect to see cars. There are plenty of cats on Facebook already. No need to contribute unless you’re a veterinarian.
While it doesn’t always have to be a link, most business-imperative messages should either lead people to a destination or convey a message about the business that can be of interest. These are the posts that carry the most risk as people normally do not want to see marketing messages in their streams. It’s not uncommon for businesses to completely avoid these types of messages. That strategy can be valid, but with a little effort you can avoid the spam reports and unlikes by making sure the message is worthwhile to your fans.
In the case above that we just posted, we combine four different components (a lot in such a small post, I know, but that’s why it’s called “effort”). The car, of course, is stunning. It’s an actual dealership inventory piece rather than a generic image like the ones above. It carries a message or relevance as it was posted early Saturday morning right before most of the local fans wake up. The wording of the text portion of the post doesn’t say a ton but it does contain a link without being considered a link post by Facebook. You can accomplish this by adding the image first, then adding the link within the body of the text. The click-thru rates are always going to be low, but the message is pointed enough so that those who do click the link are there for a clear reason.
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Put in the effort. You don’t want to let your Facebook page go stagnant for more than a day or two (unless you’re using an extremely specialized and advanced strategy that I don’t have time to go into here), but you definitely don’t want to put content into your fans’ feeds that is sub-par. Make every post great. Don’t waste them. Playing the Facebook game is definitely not hard, but it does require a willingness to work within the algorithm and understand the expectations of your fans. Don’t just meet those expectations. Exceed them.