As the 2012 election season rolls around and political ads overtake my computer and TV screen, I can’t help but see the similarities between local politicians and auto dealers: their ads both focus on strong community ties; they all think they look great on TV; and most of them have no idea how to use social media to reach their audience.
Now, I’m not going to touch TV ads, politician or otherwise, and we all know dealers probably do more good for the community than most politicians. What most dealers are missing is that they can use social media to promote their brand and their focus on the community without spending money like their running a political campaign.
One way dealerships can gain traction online is by promoting crowd-sourced content. A quick definition for Crowd-Sourced Content: Any online media (blogs, videos, photos, etc) about a brand, created by consumers.
A simple and effective way businesses have been promoting their brand through crowd-sourced content is to hold online video contests. From online retailer Amazon.com to international manufacturing firm Siemens, online video contests have proven to be a great way to engage an online audience.
For dealers this is simple: When someone buys a new car (or used car, I don’t judge), tell them they can win a gas card, oil change, gift card, or whatever, if the buyer creates and posts a video about how much they enjoy their new car. The customer spends their time to develop a viral video promoting the dealership and then shares it with their online community. Because these videos are consumer generated, their friends online are more likely to watch the video because they do not perceive it as advertising.
Social media is all about credibility and online consumers are smart: they can spot an ad three clicks away. Getting users to create their own video that promotes the dealership, not only increases the dealerships credibility in the online market place, it creates a conversation about the dealership that exists outside their traditional marketing reach.
The personal connection is what wins votes, and turns first time customers in to repeat customers, and repeat customers into walking and texting advertisements. The value of crowd-sourced content is simple: why spend all the time and effort to create an ad that tries to promote the brand and its community ties, when consumers are waiting for the opportunity to do it themselves.