I have been doing a lot of listening recently and last night, I got the opportunity to check out Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association‘s meeting on Social Media. The panel consisted of social media executives from Coca-Cola, Turner Media and top executives from various interactive agencies including BLiNQ, Ubercool and Foresee Results.
What I got out of this panel was similar to what I learned at SXSWi, and that is the traditional (push messaging) web is dying and we are now moving into an era of Social Engagement Marketing. If that is the direction we’re moving towards, it begs the question: Do dealers still need their own website? Sure, companies that sell website packages would like you to think so, but could you get better results if you spend less time creating and more time engaging?
Let’s look at the stats:
- 69% of online shoppers use social networking sites. 81% of those people are on Facebook. #2 is YouTube at 31%
- 56% of the users have friended of fanned a retailer on social networks. These users are 18% more likely to buy offline.
- 49% of customers who interact with a retailer on social media are doing so to learn about offers/promos and new products.
It’s no secret that many of us spend a TON of time doing social notworking while we’re on the web. In fact, many of us probably only surf a handful of sites for our recreational use and we spend a majority of our internet time on those few sites. Wouldn’t it make sense to “fish where the fish are?”
- While it is important to own your brand, it’s no secret that websites are hard to build and expensive to maintain. Whether you hire externally or have an internal team managing its contents, the work that you’re doing to upkeep your virtual mansion is taking time away from engaging with your customers. On the flip side setting up a Twitter account, creating a Facebook fan page or creating a number of Facebook events only take a few minutes of your time – the rest can be spent actually engaging your current and future customers.
- Although there are certainly websites that look good, most dealer websites are gimmicky and for the most part hard to navigate. Step into your customers’ shoes for a minute. If you are desperately searching for the best deal online, would you rather go to one or two primary sources that have similar navigation and aggregated millions of vehicles to conduct your search or would you rather go to 100 different smaller sites with various navigation and levels of technology to do your shopping? If you value your time, I think the choice is obvious.
- If you think of Twitter and Facebook as the next shiny object, then you are definitely doing it wrong. I still do not understand why a number of dealers are now redesigning their websites pimping their Facebook and Twitter accounts when little to no activities are present in those areas. When Twitter first started, I imagined a world where I can send a dealer a quick tweet to schedule a test drive or do a quick price check/negotation before I come in. What I expected was an almost instant response – similar to texting my friends on the phone. To date, I have yet to hear of a dealer who has excelled in using Twitter to that level. Unfortunately, most of you are still just shouting into an empty room and not really engaging your peers.
- We are moving into the social engagement web. This means you now need to be where your users are. Since car shopping is such a seasonal thing that occurs only a few times in a person’s life, it really is much easier if you step into their world vs. spending tons of money to make them come to you. Just like traditional networking, this method still works!
- Based on the social media stats above, users want to engage you for your promos and your new offerings in addition to liking you. Instead of creating empty “Specials” pages and outdated “About Us” pages filled with goofy pictures, why not just give your peers useful information they are seeking in their life stream along with sueful tidbits about your dealership? The Twitter and Facebook mini feed is now the most accepted and common method of ingesting new information on the web. Instead of spending millions driving TV, billboard and other commercials that push your brand, you can simply remind your followers with little pieces of news that will keep you on their minds – for FREE!
What are your thoughts on this? What do you think social media is missing that is preventing you from making the leap?