Keep the 'social' in social media
Independent tire dealers using social media to promote their business run the risk of losing both existing and potential customers if they push specials, sales and services too hard, according to Barry Reese, president of Tire Company Solutions (TCS), a tire dealership software supplier that has been working with dealers to create effective social media campaigns.
In other words, keep the “social” in social media, he says. “Tire dealers need to drive people into their stores through the content on their dealership’s Web site. But social media is more emotional. It’s based on personal interaction.
“If people follow you on Twitter, if they’re fans of your company’s Facebook page, you want them to get a feel for how they will benefit from associating with your store. You want them to feel like you’re their friend. Don’t hammer them with what you offer. You don’t want to turn them off.”
Reese offers the following suggestions for dealers who are either using social media or want to build a social networking presence:
1. Get your ducks in a row first. Social media will uncover and even “exploit” inadequacies at your dealership, he says. “If I decide I want to buy a book on Amazon.com, I will look at the reviews first. There may be 60 reviews, including three bad ones, but I’m going to read the bad ones first.
“If you have inefficiencies in your workplace, if you’re not doing things the right way, I would say don’t use social media. I think long-term, (social media) is going to put a barrier between the businesses that take care of people and the businesses (that gouge) people.”
2. Have a realistic strategy. “Social media is just getting started. There are going to be more and more (platforms) coming out. It’s going to grow. There are ways to make your social media process efficient.
“You can spend eight hours a day on social media and not get anything done,” Reese continues. “If you have a specific plan of action, just like in the rest of your business, you’ll get more done in less time and will reap bigger benefits.”
3. Use restraint. “On a Facebook page, don’t send too many requests,” he says. “Don’t write too much on walls, unless it’s a thank you for coming in, much like a thank you card was 15 years ago and a thank you e-mail was five years ago.
“If you push your products and your specials — if you’re sending out 10 messages a day, saying ‘We have this deal’ or ‘Come in here and get this or that’ — it’s overload. People already get plenty of that watching TV or driving down the road. You don’t want to be a social media spammer.”
4. Be patient. Constructing an effective social media presence “is a very slow build. You shouldn’t expect too much at first. You can’t just make a Facebook page and expect it to bring in business all of a sudden.”
It takes a while for Facebook fan networks to develop, says Reese. “People who get on Facebook, do it for two or three weeks, don’t see any results and get frustrated with it are hurting themselves. You have to take the long-term view.”
Reese also says dealers should resist the urge to dismiss social media as a passing fad. He calls it “the future of how media will work. When you look at how people are relating to others, it’s through things like texting and social media.”
Depending on their experiences, customers will use social media platforms to either praise or trash your business, whether you’re involved in the “conversation” or not.
“When people go to buy tires they’re letting people know, ‘Hey, I’m at the tire store. These guys are good. You need to try them,’ or they’re saying, ‘I’ve been here for five hours. Don’t come here.’” ■
TCS, Social Butterfly team up -- Companies will offer one-stop social media management
Tire Company Solutions (TCS) and Social Butterfly.Pro have entered into a collaborative agreement to produce what TCS officials are calling a “new brand of social media” Web sites for independent tire dealers (see www.socialbutterfly.pro).
The product will allow dealers to administer and manage their “entire Web media presence” from one place.“It has become obvious to us that the Web sites in use today fall short in (offering) the tools necessary to fully take advantage of their Internet presence,” says Shawn McKenzie, president of Social Butterfly.Pro. He believes access to social media “has flattened... any small business now can have a powerful presence on the Web.”