Are you approaching Social Media the wrong way?

01 Sep Are you approaching Social Media the wrong way?

Social media, love it, or hate it, most marketers still feel that they have to do it — and the more customers that a dealer can get to interact on their social media properties, “like” their page, follow them and “share” their car buying experience, the better, right? I disagree!

What is social media really? I sometimes think we all have it backwards, with too much emphasis on the platforms, and too little attention on what social interaction actually is…It is content driven.

In my opinion, Word of Mouth Marketing is THE most important social media – it is the original social media after all — and much of it is done via communication methods other than Facebook, Twitter, etc. – such as simple text and email between friends and family.

Word of Mouth Marketing has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing — the one that consumers trust above all others and the one most likely to drive sales for your dealership. However, you can’t simply hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand. If you want to win the marketing race in today’s retail automotive industry, you need to unleash the power of Word of Mouth.

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. So, if it is so effective, how can we get better at the game of Word of Mouth Marketing?

It could just be a matter of looking at this from another angle. For instance, getting a customer to share their positive experience with your dealership often has nothing to do with social media platforms themselves. Think about this for a second – literally billions of pictures are taken with smartphones every day — most people email and text photos on a daily basis. This is just how people communicate now – especially when it comes to “Life Events.” You are part of this new photo communication society, whether you want to admit it or not. Take this little test: The last time someone in your circle of friends or family got married, had a baby or graduated high school, how did you find out about it? 9 out of 10 times the answer is the same, “I saw a photo on a screen.” It could have been on your phone, on a friend’s phone, your iPad, or a PC at work — but it’s unlikely that anyone called you to tell you the news – they probably sent a photo or video.

Buying a car is a “Life Event.” For most people, this is an experience that only happens every 3-5 years. And, as soon as the customer takes delivery of their vehicle, they usually start taking photos that are then texted or emailed to friends, family and associates. Considering this fact, a process that adds your branding to those photos just makes sense.

How about creating unique dealership-branded content that customers wouldn’t generally create by themselves and delivering it to them quickly in a way that’s easily shareable? This can increase the likelihood that customers will want to share it with their networks, even if they have already taken their own pictures. So, what kind of content would accomplish this?

Rather than focusing only on that moment when the customer is about to drive away in their new vehicle, why not incorporate key moments in the whole buying experience. Use video, music and imagery to create a unique piece of content that the customer will enjoy and want to share. Find ways to engage them and illustrate the fun and great experience that your dealership provides. Get creative with your pictures at the time of vehicle delivery. The customer may be able to take a picture of the car, but they certainly can’t take one of themselves jumping in the air, or standing up through the sunroof. Text or email these photos to your customer. I guarantee you they will share them.

While Facebook has an algorithm that determines which posts a specific user sees, a customer’s cell phone does not. They get to view every text message, photo, video, or email that they receive, and vice versa. Sure, the potential reach may be much less on a text or email, versus Facebook or Twitter, but I can assure you of this: First, that the intended audience saw, read or watched the message. And second, that an experience was shared. Chances are good that the person they shared that message with is in their community or, at the very least, also knows people that live there.

The point is that most people will text and email the most important people in their lives – their family and their closest friends. So, even without social media, sharing occurs. Don’t misunderstand me. Social media should be an integral part of your marketing arsenal – it’s free, customers will look for you there, and you will have the opportunity to engage them. But, to really make sure that the right people see your branding – the people who may buy a car from you or refer their friend to you – figure out how to do BOTH. Leverage the power inherent in the sharing abilities that social media offers, but also become part of those private messages being shared back and forth via e-mail and

The ability to attach your branding to all of these forms of communication just makes sense. The reach of a text, email or digital communication from a close friend or family member is probably somewhere around 100 percent. You can’t get any better reach than that.

Paul Moran is President and CEO of Vboost, Inc., the first proactive process to create positive viral marketing in the retail automotive space. He has over 28 years of experience in creating digital marketing programs and introducing dealers to effective technologies. His expertise covers all aspects of traditional, digital and social marketing. He can be reached at