Facebook Reviews – Are You Missing the Boat?

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Your dealership probably has at least one review portal that your marketing efforts are focused on…Google? Facebook? Yelp? DealerRater? Which portal works best for your car dealership? Is your focus in line with the portal your customers prefer to use?

Mike Blumenthals, a local search and Google Places expert, recently created a Google survey to find out where American adult Internet users prefer to leave reviews online. After filtering out the 77.8% of survey takers that self-reported that they never or almost never leave reviews, Blumenthals asked the following question:

When you leave a review online for a local business, which site are you most likely to use?

  • Google – 32%
  • Facebook – 20.6%
  • Yelp – 17.5%

While the margin of error allows for Yelp and FB to be neck and neck, this does show a growth in the desire to leave reviews on Facebook, even though they aren’t necessarily known as a review aggregator.

So, while users prefer to leave their online reviews on Facebook, it’s unfortunate for small businesses like your dealership that Facebook doesn’t highlight business reviews, nor does it really promote them. In fact, it can be downright difficult to find the reviews on your dealership’s business page. What is your dealership to do?

First, continue to focus on Google reviews. They are still the clear leader, and provide the most bang for your marketing buck given their dominance in the search engine market. Having a healthy number of reviews consistently flowing into your Google+ Local page gives your dealership a better chance of a high ranking in Google’s search results.

But don’t sleep on Facebook Reviews. They are a smart company, and they will put more of a focus on business reviews in the future. Given that their platform has almost accidentally become the 2nd biggest consumer review site, it is just a matter of time before business reviews become a highlighted part of Facebook for businesses. Make sure your dealership is ahead of the curve. Spend some time and effort building positive reviews on Facebook, since many consumers are already looking at them, and the number is likely to grow dramatically over time.

As for Yelp, could the recent controversy surrounding the quality and validity of their reviews beginning to discourage consumers from leaving reviews there? If you have shied away from Yelp, one thing you should be aware of is that Google’s recent Pigeon change (which I wrote about last week) has given Yelp reviews MUCH more visibility in Google (see this article by Matt McGee). But, it may just be easier and smarter for the long term to focus on building your dealership’s review volumes on Google and Facebook, since there’s little question about their long-term consumer influence. Has your dealership seen an increase in Facebook reviews?

Tweet or Tweet Not, There is No Try

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If you’re new to Twitter, let me be the first one to welcome you to 2007. Actually, Twitter officially launched in the summer of 2006, and has steadily grown into a social network with 255 million active monthly users. Twitter’s mission is to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. Think about that.

Don’t underestimate the power Twitter provides its users.

  • 500 million tweets are sent every day
  • 78% of active Twitter users are on a mobile device
  • 585 gallons of coffee are consumed every week at Twitter’s HQ

Isn’t Twitter A Waste Of Time?

Yes, it is for a lot of people, but don’t follow them. Literally, don’t follow their methods and motivations for using Twitter. Anyone can jump on Twitter and start barking about how their company, product, service or event is better than all of their competitors. In the automotive industry, you’ll find people using Twitter like a bully pulpit on a daily basis. Pay no attention to those annoying wind- bags and their intentionally destructive behavior. The same people that talk big through a keyboard and an email address are 100x worse on Twitter, so don’t listen to them. The truth is, Twitter offers a wealth of information and is largely an unknown opportunity for car dealers.

Invitation, Encouragement, Recommendation

I’m a big fan of experience, so I want to invite and encourage you to experience Twitter. You should experiment with how to “Tweet” and “Follow” people and businesses, but I think you’ll see true value for your dealership with one of my favorite Twitter features. Search. Real time information at your fingertips. If you’ve never used this feature, jump online and go to search.twitter.com. It should look like this:

Twitter Search Operators

You may want to briefly study these Twitter Search Operators. They will help you find very specific information. I know some of you literally just gave up because it sounds like homework and you don’t care to make the effort. Can I encourage you? This is how the “experts” in the automotive industry become experts. They find the information, they immerse themselves and they gain experience by using, testing, learning and doing it over and over again. Become an expert yourself and cut some of your dependency on the “experts”.

Operator Finds Tweets…
Twitter search Containing both “twitter” and “search”. This is the default operator
“new car” Containing the exact phrase “new car”
Toyota OR Dealer Containing either “Toyota” or “Dealer” (or both)
Beer –root Containing “beer” but not “root”
#newcar Containing the hashtag #newcar
From: mashable Sent from “shaunraines”
To: dealeron Sent to “dealeron”
@techcrunch Referencing “dealerauthority”
“new car” near:”dallas” Containing exact phrase “new car” and sent near “dallas”
Near:dallas within:15mi Sent within 15 miles of Dallas
Superhero since:2010-12-27 Containing “superhero” and sent since date “2010-12-27” (year, month, day)
Ftw until:2010-12-27 Containing “ftw” and sent up to date “2010-12-27”
Movie –scary 🙂 Containing “movie”, but not “scary”, and with a positive attitude
Dealership 🙁 Containing the word “dealership” and with a negative attitude
Traffic ? Containing “traffic” and asking a question
Hilarious filter:links Containing “hilarious” and linking to URLs
News source:twitterfeed Containing “news” and entered via TwitterFeed

Still Skeptical?

It took me a few years to warm up to Twitter, so I can appreciate those of you who are skeptical. Maybe you’re one of the people that don’t really know how Twitter works or how to use it. If you’re in need of Twitter 101, the best place learn is directly from Twitter.

For the Twitter basics, visit https://support.twitter.com/articles/215585. You’ll find-out what Twitter is, how to use it, tips and tricks, the official Twitter glossary and a lot more. Twitter’s support actually has tons of excellent insight and information. You can become a Twitter expert in the quietness of your home or office without feeling embarrassed or shy to ask some self-made automotive Twitter expert a single question. How’s that for a slice of fried gold? Explore, learn, enjoy and thank me later.

Will It Help Me Sell More Cars?

You had to ask, didn’t you? Well, in case you don’t find it easily during your first visit to support.twitter.com, you’ll want to check out this case study https://business.twitter.com/success-stories/zender-ford. If you’d like more automotive specific Twitter examples, you can find them here https://business.twitter.com/success-stories/industry/automotive.

So Tweet it up and have fun.

If you liked this article, “Follow” me @shaunraines and let me know.

A Chance to Give Yelp Your Input

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Yelp has been making a lot of news recently.  Yesterday they announced that they have rolled out a new feature that alerts a business when Yelp detects that their company is receiving multiple reviews from the same IP address (for instance the IP at your dealership).  Just to remind everyone, Yelp’s official stance from their blog is “we encourage businesses to take a hands off approach when it comes to receiving reviews”.

 

Historically, dealers have not had the greatest experience with Yelp.  You don’t have to search long to find real-life stories about problems dealers have had working with the review service.  In the dealership world, Yelp is often talked about, rarely praised (see here, here, and here).

Last week, Johnson & Weaver, a shareholder rights firm, announced that they are launching an investigation into Yelp’s business practices, specifically focusing on the validity and authenticity of the reviews of local businesses that Yelp displays on its site, mobile site, and mobile app.  This announcement comes just a few weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that Yelp has received over 2,000 FTC complaints in the last 6 years.

Perhaps in response to some of the recent publicity, Yelp announced Tuesday, using their official blog, that they are looking for help from small business owners – new members for the Yelp Small Business Advisory Council (YSBAC). Created in 2010, this panel gets to:

  • Participate in an annual summit at Yelp HQ
  • Provide input on products under development
  • Brainstorm new ideas for Yelp executives to consider
  • Serve as a resource for other business owners who have questions about the services and tools on Yelp

 

According to Yelp, the YSBAC has had a hand in the following improvements:

  • “Yelp Metrics” being launched to help business owners track customer leads
  • Business owner review comments being visible on mobile
  • Development of the free “Revenue Estimate” tool to calculate the value of leads from Yelp
  • The “Activity Feed” to track when and how Yelp drives customers to businesses

 

I think that we’re all fairly skeptical of Yelp’s intentions in reaching out to local business owners, given the challenges I’ve described above.   Regardless of our industry’s recent experiences with Yelp, they are a multi-billion dollar company that remains the leading local business review website.  So if you’re interested in participating in their YSBAC to influence and shape Yelp’s treatment and relationship with local businesses in the future, there is a simple, 9 question form, that you can complete.  Last year, 26 small business owners were chosen from the over 1,000 business owners that applied to participate.

 

Would you like to share your dealership’s experiences with Yelp?

The Difference a Combination Can Make

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In the seven years I’ve been in the automotive industry, I’ve noticed that much of the thinking tends to be segmented – Internet Dept vs. Showroom, New vs. Used, Sales vs. Service. A lot of times, this way of thinking rolls over to the advertising and marketing your dealership does, including that of your vendors – Paid vs. Organic, Digital vs. Traditional, Print Vs Online.

 

Many industries suffer from this either/or mentality, but the more you can think in terms of “and” (especially in your marketing), the more successful your dealership can be. A recent Marin Software study explored the differences in online marketing campaigns that separated their search and social advertising and those that combined those marketing efforts.

 

Google’s “The Customer Journey to Online Purchase” found that social interactions in the path to conversion “assist” other digital channel conversions twice for each time a click on a social ad directly contributes to a conversion.  This stat alone gives cause to manage digital marketing campaigns together, not in a vacuum.

 

In fact, in Google’s “Digital Drives Auto Shopping” study in November 2013, they found that the average consumer has 24 research touchpoints (including Digital and offline media) in their purchase process.   The increasingly fragmented (and often lengthy) road to sale means that when you’re not tracking and managing social and search ads together, you could be missing opportunity and your true ROI.

 

The Marin study found two key takeaways:

  • Customers Who Click on Search AND Social Ads are More Likely to Buy
  • Customer Who Click on Your Search AND Social Ads Spend More

In fact, those that clicked on both search and social ads had a click-through rate 4X higher than those that only clicked on social ads and approximately twice the . More and more car shoppers are using search and social to find your dealership and to help choose their next vehicle.  Encouraging shoppers to interact with your ads across multiple platforms means better conversion rates and ROI for your dealership. Try parroting your social ads with search ads and vice versa; present the same branding message across both platforms to increase click through rate. Retargeting is a great example of this type of combined, cross-channel marketing.

 

Change your marketing focus from the medium you’re using to advertise, and combine mediums to focus on the consumer. How can you best reach your potential customers using all of your advertising options?

 

Interested in learning more? Check out the white paper from Marin Software, The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising, and talk to your digital marketing vendors.  Make sure that your Google Analytics accounts are set up to track multi-channel conversions.  Find out what they are doing to help your dealership reach your target audience, not just what platforms they’re running your ads on.

Tips for Auto Dealerships Using Facebook Paid Ads

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Facebook has been working hard to come up with a reliable, profitable revenue stream for a while now, and part of that effort is their Paid Ad program. For dealerships that use them well, paid ads on Facebook can be a great addition to your dealership’s online marketing program. Here are some tips:

Target Well: Users provide so much personal information to Facebook that it is a great way to drill down to find the right people to show your ads to. Facebook allows you to target by Interest, Family Status, Activities, Workplaces, etc. This allows your dealership to target users more specifically.

Grab Attention: Since most people aren’t coming to Facebook to view ads, it’s important that they are designed to be noticed. Try a colored border, a bold, eye-catching design, and always include a call to action – you could even put this call to action in the image, but try to keep it under four words to avoid taking over the entire image.

Vary Ads: Users that see your ads often may start to tune them out, so freshen them up. Try changing the colors/thickness of the border, changing the image completely, or if you’re using text on the image, change the message used.

If your dealership isn’t advertising on Facebook, talk to your online marketing provider if you need help getting started. It can be very effective when done correctly, so take these tips into consideration, and start testing Facebook Paid Ads.