Last week, I attended the DrivingSales Executive Summit with longtime Launch client, Rob Sumner of Park Place Dealerships. Besides taking in a little Vegas nightlife, we learned how automotive dealers can differentiate themselves and build their brands online.
Scott Monty, Ford’s Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager (a.k.a. social media guru), shared their strategy and how it helped Ford become Ad Age‘s “Marketer of the Year.” We also heard from Jeremiah Owyang, author of the popular blog Web Strategy – one of Ad Age’s “Power 150″ Top Blogs – and Dan Zarrella, award-winning author of The Social Media Marketing Book, along with several industry experts.
Almost universally, the speakers talked about the importance of being accessible, transparent and authentic online. Woody Allen once said, “90% of life is just showing up,” and the same holds true online – 90% is just being where your clients are, be it Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. As with any relationship, yours should be built on listening and understanding. Listen first and only then respond. Add value to the conversation. Provide support by answering questions and solving problems. (Best Buy allows 200 employees to answer on the company’s behalf.) Encourage dialogue, then advocacy, as you build an online relationship with your clients. Over time, your advocates may help your brand innovate, like Mountain Dew recently did by crowd sourcing to develop a new flavor.
On Twitter, the key is to find and target your influencers, and then personalize your messages towards them. The more fresh and relevant your content is, the more valuable it will be seen – and the more likely it will be re-tweeted. Other tips? For every self-promoting tweet, send 8-12 others about news, useful information, etc. Avoid a negative tone. And for the best odds of your content being read and shared, post on Thursday-Sunday, when fewer people are posting.
Location-based services (LBS), like Foursquare, are growing as smart phones proliferate. 63% of iPhone users are on LBS every week, and the audience is a desirable bunch – almost 40% are considered influencers. You can encourage usage by offering rewards; for example, Starbucks awards discounts to each location’s mayor.
So marketers, take a cue from Ford, Best Buy, Mountain Dew, and Starbucks—join the conversation. Chances are your clients are already talking about you online. By participating in a meaningful way, you can grow your brand and advocates online.
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