5 Insider's Tips on Vetting a Social Media Provider

Who speaks for your dealership on Social Media?  Is it someone who knows you, knows your store and most importantly, your story? Automotive Social Media is about people, conversations and deriving leads from those relationships.  There’s a lot of people trying to capitalize on this booming market so here’s a shocker: Not everyone who says they can do Social Media actually knows what they are talking about.

In the past year or so, many dealers have been handling Social Media themselves.  Some dealers haven’t had much results and some are giving up saying it’s a waste of time.  But now even Automotive News, AutoTrader and Polk are saying that Social is a huge influencer when it comes to consumer buying decisions.

There are two ways to go with making Social work for your store.  One is to designate someone in your store to manage and monitor your profiles.  If your designate has little experience with Social Media marketing, you can hire a coach or consultant to collaborate and assist with content, conversations, online reviews, and driving leads.

The other solution is to outsource your Social Media.  There are pitfalls here because it can seem like a “fix it and forget it” proposition.  That will definitely not get you very far!  Social Media marketing requires concerted participation from you and your staff, especially in the first 6 months.

So let’s say you’ve decided to outsource.  How will you know which provider to choose?  After all, you’ll be placing a tremendous amount of confidence in these people.  It’s critical to at least have a clear understanding of their actual capabilities.  Therefore, here are 5 questions to ask before you hire a Social Media provider:

1.  Ask what Social Media outlets they suggest for your business. Every provider should have done research on your store and your customer base before assessing the potential across today’s Social Media channels.  They’ll surely mention the big ones–Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.  Try dropping in less customary platforms like forums or Foursquare just to keep them on their toes.

2. Ask them what their Klout score is. This number is what separates the green peas from the big dawgs.  Klout is THE Social Media influence measurement site.  If your provider doesn’t have a decent Klout score (50 or above) then how can they possibly know the best strategies to engage your audience and get you leads?  You wouldn’t hire a coach who hasn’t played the game, would you?  All you need to find out their score is their Twitter handle.

3. Ask them what marketing strategies they plan to use to generate leads. Social Media ROI is a big buzz word right now.  Dealers want to know that Social Media is giving them something quantifiable for their money.  Social Media ROI = Number of Leads.  Social does have a component of in-direct marketing:  the content shared and responded to on each platform.  However, the provider should have a plan on how to get you respectable ROI.

4.  Ask them what their first goals would be. As soon as your potential supplier starts talking about attracting ‘X’ number of Facebook likes or ‘Y’ number of Twitter followers, stop them and ask them how they plan to engage with your audience.  They might try to blind you with numbers but those really in the know will tell you that a small, switched-on and engaged audience offers you more value in the long-run.

5. Ask them how they’ll measure, analyze, assess and report. You’re spending your marketing budget to get results and by results I mean leads.  Filling your sales funnel with quality leads through Social Media requires continuous monitoring, assessment and follow up.  Facebook Insights has good analytics, as does Twitter.  A proprietary lead-generation reporting system is ideal because it identifies your leads for follow up.  The provider should be able to give you a clear picture of how your dealership is being received on Social Media and the contact information from generated leads.

If you don’t know a lot about Social Media, you are just like many other dealers.  So, arm yourself with these questions and work with a solid provider who can contribute to your goals.  As always, I’d love to hear your feedback!

Kathi Kruse
Automotive Social Media Coaching & Training

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