Social Media 201: Beyond Facebook and Twitter

You’ve ventured into the world of social media. You have a Facebook page, promoted it in your marketing and in your store, started posting great content and the people that started liking your page are engaging with you. You created a Twitter account, have been tweeting and re-tweeting content, built a following and are starting to get re-tweeted and mentioned. Life is great! You did it!

…whoa, hold your horses.

As the title of this article indicates, Facebook and Twitter, while a great beginning, are far from a conquest of social media. If we were playing Risk, you just conquered Australia. There are a lot of territories left and some are pretty big. Let’s take a world tour and hit on some more social media sites as you take your social media efforts to the next level.

There are literally hundreds of social media sites. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about most of them, but there are a few that you should definitely have a presence on for your dealership: Google+, Yelp, and Foursquare.

Google + is the 800-pound gorilla in this mix. It has a total of about 250 million users and, while it does not have the level of engagement or activity that Facebook and Twitter has, it is essential to have a presence here. Google has migrated from a general relevance model of delivering search results to an enhanced relevance model on an individual level by integrating a searcher’s social network. G+ has the best SEO of any sites as Google, naturally, favors its own products. Google hosts 11 billion monthly searches which are mostly people looking for relevant and timely content. It is a different platform so you need to differentiate your G+ strategy from your Twitter or Facebook marketing strategies. Google searchers are looking for timely news, offers, information, articles, etc. about not only your dealership but your brand and models. This is the site where your most visible business presence will be through Google searches so it’s important not to neglect this network.

Many businesses think of Yelp strictly as a review site. While it is an important part of your reputation management and review building strategies, there are also strong social media components which exist that could be used to fully leverage your Yelp presence.  Yelp claims to have 71 million unique visitors. Yes, there are some dealers who have strong criticisms of how Yelp holds them hostage when a negative review appears. Did you know, however, that Yelp also has strong location-based components that you can leverage to make offers to people that are near your location? It can also inform them that you are there in the first place, if they didn’t already know. Make sure to explore all the capabilities of Yelp, have a complete and optimized profile and are paying attention to more than just the reviews.

Foursquare is a location-based service which is growing increasingly valuable. Foursquare has 20 million registered users which, according to the company, “check-in” over 3 million times per day and they are about to pass 750 million check-ins total. It is another free service that is also very low maintenance and can be leveraged to not only drive traffic to your store but steal traffic from your competitors. Users can leave “tips” which amount to mini reviews at your location. These are becoming increasingly important as Bing recently integrated these tips into their map search engine. You also have the ability to create “offers” that you can leverage to attract new customers. These offers appear on a user’s mobile device when they check-in at a location. The location doesn’t have to be yours, however. It only needs to be a business in the general vicinity. If your store is in an auto mall, a customer could potentially go onto Foursquare to check-in at your competition (let’s face it, every dealer is your competition when it comes to used cars). They will see a special icon that will indicate that you have an offer. Curiosity may lead them to look at it and, if it’s compelling enough, may persuade them to visit your store.

As you can see, there is more to social media than you probably ever imagined. No one expects you to master all the sites, nor should you. But you should be cognizant of which sites are available, which sites your demographic is using, and which sites are generating traffic NOW, not last month. Remember MySpace? AOL? Social networking sites come and go. The ones that are hot right now may not be in a year. Be where your consumers are engaging and know how they want to be engaged with, no matter where that is. Digital marketing, and social media marketing by extension, is an ever-dynamic field. If you pay attention, you’ll know where you need to be and what you should do when you get there. For now, these are a good start.

Article originally published in the October 2012 issue of the 3 Birds Marketing newsletter.

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