Facebook Archives | Outsell
December 12, 2011

Holiday Charity Involvement

Health of a company culture is important internally, but also in how others, particularly consumers, view your brand. Healthy companies have values and follow these values in their everyday practices. Involvement in charity organizations can be a great way to facilitate healthy company values and promote teamwork, and also allows for a successful company to give back. The holidays are an ideal time for giving, a time when decorating the office and letting your hair down at the company Christmas party can easily be supplemented with charitable giving. This year, Lexus is teaming up with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation as part of its “December to Remember” sales event, and will be donating $5 to Toys for Tots for every big red bow shared via Facebook and Twitter.
“As a follower of Lexus online, you can help Lexus reach its goal well before the deadline, even before Christmas. On Facebook, fans make the donation through one simple click on the ‘December to Remember’ tab at facebook.com/lexus. Twitter users can make a difference by using the #lexusbigredbow hash tag. This initiative represents a first for Lexus, using social media channels to advance a charitable drive.” READ MORE
The Lexus “December to Remember” program has existed for many years, but turning to social media to spread the word may prove to be their most beneficial tactic yet. Lexus is giving a great example of how to use the digital world in a positive way for both their brand and a worthy cause. The Outsell Caring Committee participated in the Volunteers of America “Adopt a Family” program for one of our December holiday events. We sponsored three families who are in need this holiday season. By purchasing items recommended on each family’s wishlist, Outsell participants brought in and wrapped Christmas presents for families who otherwise might not have had much under their trees this year. What are you doing to support local and national charities this holiday season?

Are You Thinking Big This Holiday Season?

It comes as no surprise anymore to hear that digital is key. Smartphones, tablets, social media, email—these are all cornerstones of sales and marketing for successful industries, including automotive. The numbers say it all, as provided by iMedia Connection. 4 out of 5 new vehicle shoppers use the internet in their purchasing process. 2.4 million shoppers use Facebook as part of making their decision. 58% of consumers will mention the purchase of a new vehicle via social media, 82% of those mentions are positive, and social media is where potential new customers seek out dealer and vehicle reviews.
“Participating in the recent JD Power Automotive Internet Roundtable in Las Vegas, the biggest trends to emerge involved the potential of mobile and tablet, along with the importance of having a strong social media plan. There’s overwhelming data that speaks not only to the growth, but to the effectiveness of these emerging platforms for automotive marketers.” READ MORE
Volkswagen Netherlands has taken an innovative approach to the digital trend, and created a social media campaign to get consumers to choose either the classic Beetle or T1 model to be the new VW Fanwagen, which one lucky winner will get to take home. Of course to even participate, consumers must first LIKE the Volkswagen Netherlands Facebook Fanpage. The T1 campervan has the numbers so far, but there is still a month left to decide who takes the winning model home. This is a rare example of Facebook LIKES actually building a vehicle. More at PSFK. The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is also showing off some impressive social media campaigns, along with a national campaign through Klout, the social site for measuring influence online. The campaign allows qualifying Klout users in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, and Dallas to sign up via the Klout Perks Program to drive a Sonic for a three-day test drive. The promotion runs through Dec. 14. Carolin Probst-lyer, manager of digital consumer engagement at Chevrolet, had this to say:
"We are aiming the Sonic squarely at consumers who are part of the Millennial generation. Partnering with Klout allows us to reach this audience, encourage them to get behind the wheel of a Sonic and use social media to share their driving experiences." READ MORE
Digital is key, and innovation brings success, especially as we near the holidays and end of the year car sales. Don’t miss out on your opportunities to do digital right! Photo by: Dave Pinter

Why Ban Potential Selling Tools?

The point of restricting access to any website is to ensure your employees are spending their time wisely and getting work done. Why waste the effort of watching each employee’s every move if they aren’t having issues of productivity, especially when the most often restricted sites can be valuable tools?
“Today's Facebook and Twitter and Youtube, these things are just modern-day smoke breaks. No one cared about letting people take a smoke break for 15 minutes 10 years ago, so why does everyone care about someone going to Facebook here and there, or Twitter here and there, or Youtube here and there? Those aren't the real problems in the office.” -Jason Fried: Why work doesn't happen at work READ MORE or WATCH the video
DealerRefresh has a very interesting blog article and following discussion around “Does Your Dealer Block Social Media” and why for most people in the automotive industry blocking social media is not the answer to productivity issues. If employees are going to get work done, they will. If not, they won’t. Moreover, blocking social media sites could be blocking potential avenues for additional sales and connections with consumers. There is, however, a need for a social media policy, whether those sites are banned or not, because the legal issues coming up in court for employees and employers are in part due to lack of understanding of what is allowed and why. The need for such a policy has come up on several automotive community sites in recent months, including KainAutomotive, and the type of trouble a dealership can get into if social media is not used responsibly. But to ban social media sites altogether is not the answer. Employees that are not allowed to check their regular social sites will simply turn to their phones, or look for a way around the ban, which often takes more time away from their work than if they were simply allowed their occasional 15 minute social media smoke break. One way to better utilize employee time on Facebook for business purposes is to include in your social media policy that they make a point of posting to your dealership fan page and keep those conversations going. Paul Potratz mentioned some important social media policy tips at the Automotive Digital Marketing community, and also how interacting with customers on social media enables your employees to better connect with consumers on a personal level. Dealerships should have a social media policy to address important concerns and legal issues, but don’t go so far as to entirely ban all of those sites. You could be actually lowering productivity, and will most certainly be cutting yourselves off from important leads and ups that you won’t find anywhere else.
As one of the most rapidly growing automotive brands for social media presence, Nissan sees the increased use of Facebook from its customers for sending complaints and praise as a sign of the times. AutoTrader and Automotive News reported on the shift Nissan has been experiencing from questions posed to their 1-800 number to their Facebook page. The widespread growth in consumer reviews moving to social media rather than just specific review sites may be part of the issue, but regardless of customer motivation, as Facebook use grows, call centers may shrink in favor of larger social media teams.
"People are less inclined to pick up a telephone and call you for information. They don't want to wait. They don't want to be told that an operator will be with you shortly," said Erich Marx, Nissan's director of marketing communications, responsible for social media. "They just want to send you an e-mail. Or they send you a text, or they post something on Facebook." READ MORE
This revolution of social media for customer interaction and customer service, as well as reputation management, is why many brands are turning to software solutions to help manage their customer service needs on these broader levels. All Facebook offers some advice for increasing success with Facebook customer service. For instance, always reply, whether to thank praises or resolve complaints. Always respond to customers on your own page rather than theirs. Monitor your page regularly, as the attention you give customers on social media should be equal to what you give calls and emails. And be sure to add some personality to your responses so that customers understand they are dealing with a person and not an automated response. Facebook and other social media sites could very well replace or at least highly compete with the amount of calls coming into call centers for customer service. Are you ready with your social media team?
Jon Friedman of MarketWatch recently commented on the newest social media craze Google+ and how easy obsession with the site is why “Google+ scares me.” Real fear might be warranted for those who fail to use the platform as the unique new tool it is. Google+ takes some of the key elements of Facebook and Twitter and makes the experience less cluttered, said Friedman. To start, users can categorize their contacts by 'Circles' so that every update they make doesn’t go to every person. Google+ also sports a unique feature called 'Hangout', allowing users to have a conversation with up to 10 people at the same time, a potentially useful tool for meetings across great distances. With over 25 million users gained in a month, some wonder if Facebook should be more concerned about their new competitor’s growth rate, despite remaining top dog with upwards of 750 million users. Google+ is also elitist, only allowing users if they are invited by existing users, though that could soon change. The lack of games like Farmville is a nice feature, since much of Facebook has been bombarded with online games that are not useful for businesses or most fan pages. Of course, makers of online games are poised to launch Google + games within weeks, says VentureBeat, maybe even days. Google + takes after Twitter in its otherwise simplicity, focused on status updates but without the restriction of 140 characters. What might have seemed like a novelty on Google’s part is clearly here to stay and could win out its competition. The problem for businesses doesn’t come from not being involved in social media this time, but in how they choose to engage in the over-saturation of social media sites. Google+ could be an unprecedented resource for businesses and business professionals, but as Chris Brogan noted in an article about “Social Media Fatigue” most people are tired of the process of signing up and ‘friending’ their contacts all over again to make the experience worthwhile. Many marketers have said that simple cross-posting is enough to utilize Facebook and Twitter effectively. Simply write a blog entry and then post the link to all of your followers and fans. But thinking of Google+ as just another carbon copy of that process would be a waste of the new approach to social media that Google is trying to give us. Brogan urges users of Google+ to use the site as a chance to do something different and start conversations for different reasons.
“The thing is this: we’re using these tools to enable new connections. We’re using them to make different kinds of business happen. We’re using these tools to help causes that matter, and so much more.” READ MORE
So for dealers and automotive professionals already involved with or looking to get invited to Google+, keep in mind that this is not the same old social media site. Do something different this time around and find new innovations to make your brand stand out.
Consumer reviews are becoming more and more of a challenge and source of fear for most dealers with widespread use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter frequented by potential customers before they buy. While these reviews were once only found on Google Places or specific automotive websites, consumers are often doing their praising and complaining where the most of their friends and family can see it. Rather than see this as a negative aspect of the digital revolution, dealers need to start taking advantage. Dealer reviews online are the new word of mouth, and this word of mouth can reach far more prospects that much faster. Jillian Ney of Social Media Today recently gave dealers three main reasons to love the phenomenon: brand perception, innovation, and competitive advantage. Since reviews are everywhere a dealer might think to communicate with their customers, brand perception is everywhere too, and how your brand is perceived by current and potential customers is important.
“Why wouldn’t you want to know what your customers think of you? You then have the opportunity to use positive reviews and build relationships and possibly overcome any negative reviews,” said Ney. READ MORE
Staying ahead of your reputation management is key, and can also show you where you might improve and what your customers want and expect from you. Keeping track of what customers are saying also offers insight into your competition, because as easy as it is to find reviews for your dealership, the same is true for every one of your competitors.<?p> DrivingSales looked at how reviews can best be leveraged using examples from Prestige Volvo, rated the #1 Volvo dealer in the country. Prestige Volvo strives to ask 100% of their customers for a review after purchase or service, even for a possible video review, so that potential customers can see the videos and positive feedback about their dealership wherever they go. You can see the full video interview with Prestige Volvo here. Some new challenges have arisen lately for monitoring reviews and keeping ahead of brand perception. Google Places dropped third-party reviews the other week from the main page of Google Maps. Dealers that had some 100+ reviews now only list a few, since only reviews posted directly to Google are being displayed. DrivingSales and dealerELITE reported on the loss of this additional review aggregation. The important thing to remember in the fallout of the development is that Google Places is best used for its direct reviews anyway, and the loss of third-party reviews shouldn’t be discouraging so much as an incentive to ask satisfied customers to go to Google Places and review for themselves. That being said, don’t ignore reviews from third-party sites. Make sure you are on top of your reputation management, especially when it comes to social media sites where people tend to speak more freely. Embrace your reviews online, because that is where your brand is taking shape in the minds of consumers.

What Makes A Good Facebook Fan Page?

The Audi USA Facebook fan page has been called one of the best on the web. A recent study found their fans to be even more engaged than that of world famous teenage heartthrob and pop star Justin Bieber. Among pages with more than 100,000 fans, Audi had the highest number of “Likes” for any given status update. Usually, brands that have a higher number of fans have lower engagement on what they post from day to day. Some think their high scores could be the result of recent Like-gating, when people have to “Like” the brand in order to participate in special offers, but that only accounts for overall fans, not “Likes” on individual posts. While Audi was not listed among the 35 Creative Facebook Fan Page Photo Strips from Social Fresh, many other automotive brands were, with very similar looks and feels to the Audi page. Among those listed were GMC, Buick, and Lexus. So what makes those pages successful? What makes them visually appealing and ripe for consumer engagement? Simple steps like having a clever and eye-catching photo strip (the line of five photos across the top of the Wall page) can help intrigue potential fans, and keep current fans interested in updates. Most fan pages start on the Wall page, so the photo strip is the first thing a browser sees when they click your page. Other successful Facebook pages differentiate themselves by having a Welcome page instead of going straight to the Wall. Using Audi as the example, one thing they do right is content. They supply Livestream video, product information, and even an interactive app looking at stories of the Audi Quattro from real customers. This allows for them as a brand to interact with customers almost as personally as a dealer does. Another tactic for maintaining a great Facebook fan page is to make use of the Discussion app. Get your customers talking about you. Get them talking with each other. What does Audi and other popular automotive industry Facebook fan pages have in common? Their usage of unique apps, as well as creative use of the apps Facebook offers naturally, like a regularly updated Wall with status updates customers are compelled to “Like”. This can be done with interesting news as well as offers, so keep your posts fresh. At the end of the day the reason for Facebook fan page success is the same no matter the tactic you choose. Engagement.

Leading the Conversation

Social Media and Online Marketing can mean something entirely different to different marketers as well as different industries, but for most the goal is the same, to drive more traffic to the company’s main website and potentially gain more customers and closer relationships with current customers.

The largest areas this is done regularly and successfully is through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, but what are the best ways to use those tools?

The key elements that come up again and again from professionals using social media is to have a plan, make sure the different aspects you are using are integrated, and listen to your customers.

Blogging as a company is different than running a personal blog. It can’t be about the hit count or the amount of comments on posts, if any, but about the content you are putting out there being relevant and important to the consumers who find their way to your site. What to write for a blog post is as important as who you are trying to reach. Customers aren’t interested in only hearing about how wonderful your dealership is, what specials are going on, or that great testimonial or customer experience.

Those things are great spaced out with other content, but people are fickle. They want variety. Too much of the blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter, are filled with more of the same. Stay current on automotive news, trends, and interesting facts as well.

And please, don’t take the route so many other budding social media savvy dealerships have taken and fill your tweets with superfluous ‘What’s your favorite color?’ and ‘Tell us what you did this weekend?’ questions. That tactic isn’t original or relevant.

Do make your posts and comments fun, however. Social Media is supposed to be fun, that’s why people spend so much time there. Tracy Gold in her article, “What I Learned About Social Media from Angry Birds,” said it best:

“Sure, people read articles to learn what’s going on in their field, and they watch how-to videos. But no one is going to remember your brands’ boring breakdown of how to install WordPress. They’re going to remember the posts that made them laugh, and the tweets they think are clever. So if you’re just churning out the same-old, same-old content, stop it! Think about how you can make sure that you’re keeping social media the way it’s supposed to be: fun.”

Read More

(more…)

Giving Back to Those in Need

During the Thanksgiving holiday the Outsell Caring Committee organized our First Annual Outsell Food Drive. Those efforts were an enormous success for us as a team as well as for the Joyce Uptown Food Shelf that we were proud to work with for our donations. Our first blog post on Holiday Charity Drives and the Food Drive results can be found here.

For the Christmas Holiday the Caring Committee continued that commitment with contributions to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation.

The Toys for Tots Foundation asks for donations of new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year to be delivered at Christmas to needy children in surrounding communities. Please check out the website and read more about the Marine Toys for Tots program here in Minneapolis.

Given our digital background, the Caring Committee gave Outsell employees the mission of logging onto Target.com under the company name and each purchasing up to $40 dollars of age-appropriate toys. Our purchases were delivered well within the Toys for Tots deadline and picked up by Marine Corps officers before the holidays.

For more pictures of the event, as well as pictures from the Thanksgiving Food Drive, please check out our Facebook Fanpage.

The Outsell Caring Committee and employees have helped us exceed individual and group giving for the Food Drive, Toys for Tots, and many other charitable organizations and endeavors this year. Outsell also donated $5000 to the United Way in honor of Bart Greenwood, a beloved member of the Outsell family who was lost in 2009 and who had always been strongly dedicated to giving back to the community, a tradition Outsell is proud to continue.

As Outsell employees headed out of the office the night before Christmas Eve, President and CEO Mike Wethington passed on a message that we could all keep in our hearts for the holidays and the coming year:

“This Christmas morning I would ask each of you to remember those times when you were a child and how you felt when you received a present that you didn’t expect to receive. Then think about all of the children that we impacted this Christmas Day when they open one of the presents from the mountain of gifts we all gave this year. Can’t you just see the smiles?”

Thank you again to the Caring Committee and the many organizations we had the pleasure of working with in 2010 and that we look forward to working with again in 2011. You can read more about all of the charitable organizations Outsell is involved with at the Caring Committee webpage.

November 1, 2010

The Outsell Halloween Bash

Eat, drink and be scary.

One of many snazzy group shots from the Halloween Bash

I had the pleasure of celebrating my year anniversary as an Outsell employee the same way I began my time with the company, with the week of Halloween and the Outsell Halloween Bash.

Outsell truly sets itself apart not only for its business practices but for the success and happiness of its employees in having such an incredible company culture. Many organizations might throw a Halloween party, but maybe none quite as homey and entertaining as a potluck where every team member can be assured that everyone else will be coming to work dressed up.

The potluck had a number of notable dishes, though most impressive had to be the cauldron of eyeball punch frothing like a witchy brew.

Mike as Dracula

Winners of the costume contest this year were President and CEO, Mike Wethington, in a rather inspired Dracula getup, Development Team Lead, Arnab Bagchi in full pharaoh gear including gold face-paint, and the entire Dealer Services department portraying what they referred to as ‘The West Side’.

We had a good showing of classic costumes—an Alien, a monkey suit, and our lovely Administrative Assistant, Catherine Decker, as Scooby Doo’s Daphne. There were also a few lesser known characters that joined the party, like Captain Hammer from Joss Whedon’s internet short Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog depicted by Customer Interaction Center Manager, Katrina Turgeon.

You can see additional photos from the Halloween Bash on our Facebook Fanpage here.

Looking good, Dennis!

Amidst all the fun, Outsell employees did manage to get back to work for a few more hours before partaking in an exciting team meeting that has everyone pumped for the rest of this year and the next, as well as Outsell’s quickly growing future as a digital marketing staple.

Most notable of all was none other than Strategic Alliance Director, Dennis McMillan, and his outstanding display of Outsell and Halloween team spirit with this inspired ‘tattoo’.

Thanks for a great time and a great Halloween, everyone!