7 Steps to Create a Social Media Roadmap
Regardless whether you’re personally handling your dealership’s social media or you’ve hired a social media manager, you need a strategic roadmap. Top of mind in all of this is to never lose sight of the fact that communications in the form of social media are not a one-way street — they are a two-way conversation — you say something consumers can respond to and they respond if they think it’s worth responding to, same as if you were sitting next to a stranger at a football or baseball game.
Also worth remembering as you build your social media strategy:
- You need social media, but not at the expense of other marketing efforts. Use it to amplify – not replace or cannibalize – your regular and ongoing marketing efforts.
- Social media is not something you “dip your toe into” to see if it “works.” By its nature, a successful social media effort takes a while (months) to gain traction. Think about how long it takes to make and cultivate a friendship; social media works very similarly.
- With social media, you can guide the conversation, but the consumer is in control.
The basic underpinning of any good social media roadmap is that your dealership and your customers are in sync with each other’s expectations. It’s incumbent on you to develop what the customer believes will be a mutually beneficial relationship with relevant content and messages, and that’s why you need a plan. The goal of every social media strategy is to provide direction on how to achieve your goals of delivering consistent information that is timely, relevant and true to what your dealership stands for in your local community. Here are the seven fundamental “bones” of a good social media roadmap:
1. Listen and learn – Take some time to understand what’s being said about you, your brand, your services, your executives and your competitors.
2. Identify your audience – Their needs, wants and challenges. This will help you create substantive goals that will drive your social media roadmap. When you know who your audience is, you should be able to create relevant content, build trust, increase audience engagement, respond to specific needs and, ultimately, become a go-to source.
3. Define the goals of your social media strategy – More customers? Brand awareness? Improve loyalty? More traffic to your website? Choose one- or two goals and stick to it. Too many goals will dilute your efforts and focus.
Whatever goals you choose, do the “why” test: “Why should we do this?” If it’s because “everyone is on Facebook,” consider taking a deeper dive into your motivations to come up with something you can write down and examine objectively for its benefits. Facebook is great for helping manage your reputation and to create customer engagement, so if that’s what you want to do, then go for it!
4. Define the strategies you are going to use – Strategies are the “hows” of a plan. Especially important are schedules, timelines, budget and
integration into your existing marketing programs.
5. Identify the tools that will best support your goals – It could be Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Twitter or blogs, to name a few. You should also
set policy and train your team. Even if everything is going to be handled by your social media manager, everyone at your dealership should be aware of what’s going on and understand what’s appropriate and acceptable behavior/language as a representative of your dealership.
6. Develop content – In many ways, this is the toughest part. As a dealer, your natural inclination is to use “free” space on a blog, Facebook or Twitter to sell cars. That’s not why these channels exist, nor why they’re so successful. Instead, your content should be something your customers want to read, believe benefits them and is valuable enough to share with their friends/communities (e.g., How often to align wheels? How to clean leather or cloth upholstery? What was your first car? Oil weights in summer and winter, etc.). Structure content so there’s a give and take in a conversational tone -- ask questions, solicit opinions and advice, take polls, add photos and video, and direct the customer to helpful links, “There’s a Ford Galaxy club in your area. Check out http://www.so-calgalaxies.com/.”
Posts on Facebook and Twitter should be short and sweet – and different from each other – otherwise fans won’t have a reason to follow you on both platforms. Posts on Facebook between 100 and 250 characters (1 to 2 lines of text) get the most Likes.
7. Monitor and analyze your results – Most social channels have free analytics tools (e.g., Facebook Insights, Twitter Web Analytics, YouTube Analytics) that will enable you to see which content your fan base clicks on most often so you can determine what seems to be the most valuable to them. Two of the most important results you should look at are acquisition and engagement. Acquisition looks at the size of your communities, while engagement measures the effectiveness of the content you are sending out to your communities.
Monitor results weekly, tweak as needed and then do a comprehensive evaluation after a couple of months (remember, social media takes time to take hold).
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