Are OEMs Finally Embracing Social Media?

In analyzing the “Top Social Brands of 2010″ list put out by Vitrue, you may notice a trend. (Keep in mind that this is a list compiled that includes every brand in existence and their social media presence and activity. That’s huge.) The automotive manufacturers have stepped up their social media game.

Vitrue “analyz(es) online conversations on a daily basis across social networks blogs, micro-blogs, photo and video sharing sites using the Vitrue Social Media Index (SMI).”

A full 17% of the list is from the transportation industry. Ford was the highest ranked automotive industry representative at #11 followed closely by Mercedes (#12) and BMW (#13). General Motors scored the highest increased ranking amongst automotive manufacturers (2nd highest increase overall) jumping 31% from #85 to #54 over last year.

All of the OEMs showed an increase in their social media branding and presence except for Ferrari (-1%), Toyota (-2%), Porsche (-2%), Jeep (-6%), and Kia (-9%).

All of these brands were on the list last year but the lowest ranked one in 2010 was at #62 (Kia) versus #85 in 2009 (General Motors).

Here’s the annotated list of automotive manufacturers and how they ranked in 2010 as well as their 2009 ranking and percentage change.

#11 Ford (#24 / +13%)
#12 Mercedes Benz (#17 / +5%)
#13 BMW (#20 / +7%)
#20 Honda (#25 / +5%)
#27 Ferrari (#26 / -1%)
#30 Nissan (#37 / +7%)
#35 Audi (#45 / +10%)
#40 Toyota (#38 / -2%)
#45 Suzuki (#61 / +16%)
#49 Volkswagen (#67 / +18%)
#52 Dodge (#57 / +5%)
#54 General Motors (#85 / +31%)
#57 Porsche (#55 / -2%)
#59 Chevrolet (#80 / +21%)
#61 Jeep (#56 / -6%)
#62 Kia (#53 / -9%)

(The complete list can be found here. The Vitrue 100 and, in case you were curious, the missing “transportation” company from my annotated list is Harley Davidson at #71.)

What do you read into these statistics?

Originally published on DrivingSales.com

BREAKING NEWS: Autotrader Acquires HomeNet Automotive

I have just been informed through a very reliable source that Autotrader has officially acquired HomeNet Automotive.

(EDIT: Below is copy from this morning’s official press-release.)

ATLANTA and WEST CHESTER, Pa., Dec. 1, 2010 – AutoTrader.com, the Internet’s ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer information website, has agreed to purchase HomeNet Automotive, a leading provider of online inventory management and merchandising solutions.

The purchase is expected to close by the end of the year.

The addition of HomeNet to the AutoTrader.com family of companies and brands provides AutoTrader.com with a best-in-class inventory management solution for the thousands of auto dealers who use AutoTrader.com to present their inventory of new, used and certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles to online vehicle shoppers.

Founded in 1996, HomeNet’s proprietary “Get. Edit. Deliver” technology has helped thousands of automotive dealers nationwide generate a high volume of leads and increase online vehicle sales.  HomeNet’s signature solution, the Inventory Online (IOL) vehicle marketing suite, is an industry-leading vehicle inventory management and marketing system.

AutoTrader.com’s purchase of HomeNet will bring a variety of benefits to dealers who post vehicles for sale on AutoTrader.com and to car shoppers who use AutoTrader.com to research and compare vehicles, find dealer specials, review inventory of cars for sale and select dealerships to visit.

For dealers, incorporating HomeNet’s proprietary inventory management system into AutoTrader.com’s dealer tools will allow for easier and faster inventory management and merchandising online.  Dealers will be able to upload their listings faster, make updates and adjustments to their listings more easily and overall enjoy more flexibility and control in presenting their inventory for sale on AutoTrader.com.

Consumers shopping for vehicles on AutoTrader.com will have access to better vehicle information, enhanced listings that include more photos and dealer comments, advanced search capabilities and more frequent updates and information about the cars they are shopping for and researching.

The agreement to purchase HomeNet is the third in a series of acquisitions AutoTrader.com has announced in recent months.  In September, AutoTrader.com announced the purchase of vAuto, the automotive retail industry’s leading provider of advanced software tools for used vehicle management, pricing and inventory optimization.  Then, in October, AutoTrader.com announced its planned acquisition of Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), one of the most recognized and influential brands in the automotive industry.

“We are always looking for opportunities to grow our company, organically or through acquisitions, in ways that will make AutoTrader.com even more valuable to the auto manufacturers and dealers who advertise on our site and to the 15-million-plus consumers who shop for vehicles on our site every month,” said AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry.  ”We were fortunate to be in a position to purchase vAuto and to agree to purchase Kelley Blue Book and HomeNet when these companies came available and we are excited about the value our combined companies can bring to the very competitive automotive shopping and marketing industries.”

AutoTrader.com plans to operate HomeNet as an independent subsidiary.

Bob Landers, a 10-year AutoTrader.com veteran sales executive who was formerly vice president for AutoTrader.com’s Southeast division, has been appointed general manager and vice president of HomeNet.  He will be the top executive at the company, replacing founder and former president and CEO Jesse Biter.  Landers will work directly with other leaders at HomeNet and be responsible for day-to-day operations and long-term growth at HomeNet.

About HomeNet Automotive, LLC:  HomeNet Automotive helps the automobile industry save time and sell more vehicles. It is the leading provider of inventory merchandising, management, and marketing solutions, led by its flagship product, Inventory Online (IOL) Internet Marketing Suite. IOL is a web-based vehicle marketing solution that helps tens of thousands of automotive dealers to engage buyers online and bring them into the showroom by streamlining the process of converting raw vehicle data into consumer-friendly and emotional online ads. For more information, please email sales@homenetauto.com, visit http://www.homenetauto.com, or call (877) 738-3313

About AutoTrader.com

Atlanta-based AutoTrader.com, created in 1997, is the Internet’s ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer information website. AutoTrader.com aggregates in a single location millions of new cars, used cars and certified pre-owned cars from thousands of auto dealers and private sellers and is a leading online resource for auto dealers, individuals and manufacturers to advertise and market their vehicles to in-market shoppers. The company also provides a robust suite of software tools for dealers and manufacturers to help them manage and market their vehicle inventory and display advertising on the Internet. AutoTrader.com continues to grow key business metrics, including revenue, profitability and site traffic. Today, AutoTrader.com attracts more than 15 million unique monthly visitors who utilize the site to review descriptions, photos and videos of vehicles for sale; research and compare vehicles; review pricing and specials; and read auto-related content like buying and selling tips and editorial coverage of major auto shows and automotive trends. AutoTrader.com operates two other auto marketing brands, AutoTraderClassics.com and AutoTraderLatino.com. AutoTrader.com also owns used vehicle management software company vAuto. AutoTrader.com is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Providence Equity Partners is a 25 percent owner of the company and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is also an investor. For more information, please visit www.autotrader.com.

SOURCE AutoTrader.com

Originally published on DrivingSales.com

Creating Revenue through the new Groupon Stores

Last night, the popular consumer shopping website Groupon announced the implementation of Groupon Stores.

For those unfamiliar with Groupon, here is the skinny: Groupon offers customers discounts on products and services in which Groupon has negotiated with the business for discounts based on an agreed upon number of people accepting the offer. They offer 1 deal per day, per city and then market this deal to the members in that market. They currently have over 33 million subscribers.

Groupon collects a 50% commission on sales from the business for each offer BUT, since they only offered one deal per day, the exposure was fantastic since everybody saw it. It didn’t get “lost in the crowd”. It was still a VERY steep cost but the advantage businesses have found from utilizing Groupon in their marketing efforts is from attracting NEW customers and focusing on customer retention.

With the launch of Groupon Stores, businesses can set up their own Groupon distribution presence and offer (and control) their own discounts. There is still a commission but it has been drastically reduced to only 10% of sales.

Groupon is promoting several features of it’s new stores:

  • “Setup a permanent (and free!) e-commerce presence on Groupon for promoting their business.
  • Create their own offers to run deals whenever they want.
  • Submit deals to be promoted to Groupon subscribers through email and the Deal Feed.
  • Get customers to follow their Groupon Store, and stay in touch by sending messages through the daily email and deal feed.”

This could be leveraged well in your service department by running oil change specials, tire deals, etc. It would give your dealership the exposure through Groupon via the free business-specific page they’ll provide.

This new page will probably offer your dealership some SEO value as well but my advice would be to not set up a page if you don’t plan to offer any discounts. Too many dealerships have “Specials” pages on their own website that don’t have any specials on them. Don’t compound that huge mistake by participating in more “deal” websites in which you don’t have any deals.

The biggest benefit to utilizing Groupon’s Store is that they will market it to their members in your area through both e-mail and via the other announced new feature – the Deal Feed, which is sort of like a Facebook wall for consumers to see the deals offered in their area as well as deals offered from businesses they “follow”. This does come at a cost (10% of sales from the offered deal) but the marketing power to attract new customers is huge.

With the rumor-mill steadily increasing that Google is going to  buy Groupon, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Groupon deals integrated into Google Place Pages. This would increase the perceived value of Google Place Pages to consumers in that it would centralize a single page in which consumers can get business information, see business reviews and see what deals the merchant is currently offering.

The new feature rolls out today in a few markets but will be available shortly to everyone.

 Originally published on DrivingSales.com

 

Facebook Now Offering More Detailed Analytics for Page Owners

Facebook announced yesterday that it will now be providing deeper analytics to all Facebook Page administrators.

These analytics have existed but were only available to Facebook Pages with over 10,000 friends. While not “groundbreaking” or anything, what the new analytics will provide is a snapshot of your content’s activity on a PER POST basis. Previously the only information available was an overview of all post activity (rather than each piece of content).

The new analytics will show you how many “impressions” your content has received as well as a percentage of impressions to feedback.

Impressions, in this case, does NOT mean how many unique people SAW your post/content. What it means in the Facebook world is how many times Facebook chose to “serve” your content into users’ News Feed. (See image)

 

How is this helpful? This information will allow you to “fine-tune”, if you will, your content posts to maximize “potential” views (ie. maximize how many times your content is shown in users’ News Feed).

Keep in mind that Facebook controls what people see, you don’t.

Find your content with the most impressions and try to find a consistency within your highest impression counts. It may be that, based on what your particular fans are doing, those “types” of content are considered more valuable to them than others so Facebook delivers them more.

The feedback percentage will also effect how often your content is served to your fans. The higher the percentage of people that interact with you (via a piece of content), the more likely that content will be served up.

This is just another great tool available for you to use that will help optimize your Facebook marketing efforts.

(The new analytics information can be seen only by administrators and it’s on the Facebook Page below each post just as pictured in the image above.)

 Originally published on DrivingSales.com

 

Google Unveils “Hotspot” – its own Location-Based Service

Well, we may have just found out why Google reviews and place pages have been acting crazy for the last few months (reviews disappearing and re-appearing, etc.)

Mashable announced that Google unwrapped it’s own new location-based service named “Hotspot” tonight.

“With Hotspot, users will be encouraged to rate and review businesses directly from their Google-linked profile. Users’ ratings and reviews are tracked with a counter at the top of each profile, and likes and dislikes are remembered and used in Google’s recommendation engine.”

I have yet to play with it but from the description – easy to use, simplistic, easy to write reviews – it seems like something non-techy people might get into or, at the very least, utilize when researching businesses – need a place to eat? – while on the go.

Whether the “average” person leaves a bunch of reviews is moot, in my opinion. Reviews will be left in the same manner that they have been on Google. The only difference will be that there will be one more venue with which to leave a review.

The fact that Google is still the dominant way in which most consumers start a business search leans heavily in their favor. Even with Facebook Places’ shadow ever present, in this arena – reviews- Google definitely has the edge.

This development also should encourage business owners to shift reviews back towards Google Place pages, especially if “likes”, “dislikes” and number of reviews left are weighted factors in Google search results as seems to be indicated by this article.

This story is definitely still developing so it’s way too early to foresee any definitive ramifications from this. I can definitely tell you that you should stay tuned, I will be.

Oh, and if anyone has an Android phone, supposedly this is accessible immediately. If you want to check it out and comment back, that would be appreciated!

Originally published on DrivingSales.com