Facebook Changes Promotion Restrictions

Since many of our social media car dealerships use contests on Facebook as a way of gathering more “likes” for their page, I wanted to help keep you up to date on the changes Facebook is making regarding contests on their platform.

In the past, any auto dealership looking to run a promotion (“sweepstakes, contest, competition, or other similar offering”) need to get prior, written permission from Facebook.  Unfortunately for most, if not all small businesses, Facebook wouldn’t grant this permission to businesses that hadn’t spent at least $10,000 in Facebook ads.  Disobeying this policy could lead to your Facebook page being blocked.

Turns out, Facebook has now dropped both the spending requirement and the need for permission.  Small businesses, like your auto dealer website, can now run promotions on the Facebook platform.  Since this can be an extremely cost-effective way to increase your brand awareness and number of “Likes” on Facebook, we encourage our auto dealer customers to take advantage of this new opportunity.

There are still guidelines and restrictions, so make sure you thoroughly read through Facebook’s policies. Also, please feel free to leave a comment here or contact DealerOn if you have any questions about conducting a contest or promotion on Facebook.

How Google Instant Search Could Change SEO

As I’m sure most people have heard, Google came out with a new feature yesterday that they’re calling Instant Search.  Since the announcement has been all over the Internet, I thought I’d try to explain what Instant Search does and how it can help your car dealer website.

Google’s Instant Search resembles their auto-suggest feature, where potential search terms are auto populated into a drop down below the search box.  Instant Search differs from auto-suggest in that instead of potential search terms showing, the search is actually performed as Google fills in their auto-suggest.  Here’s an example of how Instant Search works:

So how will this affect your car dealership and your search engine optimization?  It’s hard to know exactly how this new technology will change SEO results and practices, but I think this will help car dealers, especially those optimized for long-tail search.

Before, web searchers using Google had to commit to a search term, just one at a time.  Even though Google would auto suggest additional keywords, searchers had to hit the enter button or click to make the search happen.

With Instant Search, search users can see what their search results will look like without having to commit.  For example, if they start to search for “Boston Nissan” and only see 3rd party, national sites, they are more likely to make their search term more specific.  If “Boston Nissan” doesn’t show them what they want to see, perhaps “Boston Nissan dealership” will or “Boston Nissan used cars”.  Car buyers won’t have to hit search to see what their results will be, leaving the door open for more detailed long tail searches.

Is your dealership ready?  Make sure you’re in contact with your search engine optimization vendor or dealership website provider to ensure your site is prepared and optimized to deal with the recent changes to Google’s search technology.

Your Auto Dealership and Facebook’s Community Pages

Facebook Community pages have been a “new” feature for about four months, yet many people and businesses don’t know much about them.  Essentially, Facebook uses Community Pages to gather information from across their platform, creating a sort of wiki of information, even including information from Wikipedia when appropriate.   According to the social network, “Community Pages are meant to be the best collection of shared knowledge on topics that interest you.”

Facebook asked users to link profile sections (like interests, employers, wall, etc) to a Community Page in order to “discover the friends and people who share these connections with you.”  While this can be a great tool for users, imagine what this might do for your car dealership that isn’t aware of their dealer Community Page?

Everyone who mentions your auto dealership on their Facebook page, positively or negatively, could have that information included on the Community Page, without your car dealer staff being aware.  Here are some steps your dealership can take to avoid having a potential dealer Community Page disaster:

First, search for your dealership’s name to see if a Community Page exists.  If so, click on the “sign up” link so someone from your dealership will be contacted with updates for your Community Page.  Facebook has been slow to make the connections from business sites, like a car dealer website, to Community Pages, so unfortunately, your car dealership may just have to bide your time and check your Community Page often.  It can be a great tool to track what Facebook users are saying about your dealership, or even your OEM, online.

Facebook’s “Like” Button Added to Inventory Pages

I wanted to let our dealership website customers know about a new feature designed to increase interaction on your inventory pages.  Dealers now have the option to allow their car dealer website visitors to “Like” a particular vehicle, sending the information to their Facebook account.

When your dealership customers click the “Like” button, the page title, URL, thumbnail gallery of all available photos and a link to the vehicle details page is sent to Facebook.  The button is available for both new and used inventory.

To see an example or to find out more information, contact your DealerOn account manager at 877-543-4200.

Auto Dealer Websites Need a Mobile Version. Period.

Auto dealer websites need to have a separate, mobile version of their site, plain and simple.  Here’s why:

  • Over 73 million people were mobile web users in 2009, a number that is expected to almost double by 2013.
  • According to a study by Neilson, mobile Internet usage is increasing by 30% each year.
  • Google has a separate search engine index for mobile content.  Since there are far less mobile sites online, your mobile site will rank higher and easier than your traditional dealership website.  Google rewards older sites, so the sooner your dealership gets online with a mobile site, the better.
  • A recent study by Chitika, a search-based online advertising network, found that “users on mobile devices are 45% more likely [than PC users] to enter a local query than users on non-mobile devices.”
  • One out of five Americans is on the mobile web on a daily basis.

Car dealership websites aren’t designed to be viewed on a mobile screen.  They are too big, the links your customers are most likely looking for aren’t in plain view, and many dealership sites will take too long to load.

Mobile users are typically looking for something in particular (searching), not browsing like they often do when using a computer (surfing).  The focus needs to be on getting your dealership customers the information they are looking for, as quickly as possible, which means the information shown to your customer has to be different if they are visiting from a mobile site than when on a computer.

If your auto dealer website provider doesn’t provide your dealership with a mobile version of your site, find out why.  You could be missing out on valuable local leads and an opportunity to give your customers a positive online experience, regardless of how they visit your website.

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