Blogging: You can't expect results if you treat it like a third wheel

A few years ago when the idea of blogging for car dealers was a taboo subject, blogging itself was just becoming more widely accepted as a legitimate business tool. Today, business blogging is almost a must-do, like having a website is. But for auto dealers, blogging for the dealership is still very much a mystery. Just when you think you have a good formula, trends and behaviors change.

This is largely due to the rise in use of Social Media, which can also be described as micro-blogging. With Facebook and Twitter having gone mainstream, dealers are now tapping into a trend before ever taking off successfully with blogs the way businesses in some industries had.

This is not a bad thing, it was just a matter of timing.

If you were to create a time line of the major milestones or phases for dealerships and the web, it would go something like this…
Late 90's: Autobytel breaks new ground in the car buying experience, but few dealers have good websites.
Early 2000's: Dealers struggle with the challenge of establishing and maintaining a good web presence due to lack of good tools.

Mid 2000's: Dealership CMS and CRM mature. Dealers take to PPC as means to attain website visitors.

Late 2000's: Dealers abandon PPC and dive into SEO.

2008: Dealers experiment with blogging and microsties and online video.

2009: Economy hits the dump and Social Media gains acceptance. Dealers flock to micro-blogging.

2010: Dealers want to go back to basics, but realize that Social Media is here to stay.

2011: ???
So where are we going this year? Will dealers abandon Social Media or stick with it? Will PPC make a comeback or will SEO hold steady? I wrote this article for BlogPro Automotive earlier in the year and am modifying it for dE today, and we are getting an idea of what this year is about.

I believe that blogging for car dealers is primed for a second phase in the evolution of its short history, one that will be more tangible for dealers. By tangible I mean that dealers will learn to see and measure how their blog is or is not working for them. Dealers will begin to realize that an effective blog marketing strategy achieves desired results that only a good blog can. It won't be easy but the dealerships that pull it off will have achieved something few of their competitors will.

Much like when you buy an a CRM system, unless you populate it with useful information and use it to engage people, you have only a piece of software. Technologically, a blog is relatively simple, but producing content, accumulating subscribers, and engaging customers over long periods of time is labor intensive. It requires vision, commitment, and determination. It must be purposeful and diligent.
You can't expect amazing results if you treat it like a third wheel.

As your dealership heads into the second half of 2011, consider the role a blog can play. It's not just a means to an end for automotive SEO anymore. Blogs have become more than that. They play a pivotal role in the CRM and Social Media process all the way from cultivating new business to drumming up repeat business. It's time to get in the game.

 

 

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Tags: auto, automotive, blog, dealer, marketing, microsites, seo, strategy

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Comment by Marsh Buice on May 24, 2011 at 5:15pm
Helps alot, thank you!!
Comment by Ryan Gerardi on May 24, 2011 at 2:41pm

That's a good question Marsh. I am always experimenting with different types of content to produce for dealers. I find it is best to have the right mix of product and service related info and local community info. Ideally, your dealership is always involved at least 2 or 3 community events. This is the best content. 

 

Here are examples of stuff that one of my favorite dealership customers is doing that we help advocate:

 

http://blog.lexusofchestersprings.com/local-life/support-rhoads-six...

http://blog.lexusofchestersprings.com/local-life/philadelphia-wine-...

 

Here is an example of something not local, but relevant to drivers:

 

http://blog.lexusofchestersprings.com/insider-email/otter-app-reduc...

 

The key to blog content is longevity. Anything that will develop more value in time is a good thing. Therefore, recurring events are good, even if annually, and local business, causes, groups, etc.

 

The challenging part to all this is good communication. Sometimes I find out about stuff after-the-fact or too late. Like this event about the dealership being a transportation sponsor for a local athletic star, which b\c it had no long-term value I chose not to make a blog about it and instead used our automotive social media site: http://autoconverse.com/activity/p/7494/. This would be a form of micro-blogging which is best on places like AutoConverse.com, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 

Hopefully those are good examples. 

Comment by Marsh Buice on May 24, 2011 at 10:59am
Ryan, thank you so much for this post. I have a personal blog, but am clueless on what content works  well for a dealership's . Many blogs I read on dealer's websites were posted months ago and left abandoned. I would love to hear some suggestions on what to write on a dealership's blog? Sales negotiation and sales tactics aren't the right forum, but in our business that is what we talk about constantly. Can you give me some advice on some topics that seem to do well in a dealership's blogasphere?

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