Twitter 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?

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.
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.

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.”

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December 27, 2010

Digital Advertising in 2011

The Social Influence

In 2010 the face of digital marketing continued to evolve with many new developments and potential directions ahead in 2011. A recent article in the Business section of Mashable, the top source for news in social and digital media, discussed predictions for the future of digital advertising.

Most notable for those of us in the automotive industry may be their #3 prediction: Influencers Will Be the Celebrities of the Social Web, the idea that many consumers are making decisions based on what they are reading on social sites, like reviews and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and others.

In our previous interview with Stephen Higgins, Social Media Manager for AutoNation, he stressed the importance of being in those spheres because of the influence the simplest comment on a social media site can have on consumer behavior.

The prediction that companies will be turning more and more to social media to market their brands rather than using outside marketing tactics is not a new idea, but certainly increasingly true as we move into the next year. Not having a presence in those areas is something consumers are starting to notice, expecting that even the smallest company or store will not only have a website, but also a Twitter account, LinkedIn, Facebook Fanpage, and more.

Facebook “Likes” may also be a more important factor in influencing consumers than the industry has yet to fully realize. The video below that was included in the Mashable article sums up some of the reasons why Facebook is so important.

Kraft Foods: How Oreo Learned to Fish Where the Fish Are, presented by Beth Reilly from GasPedal on Vimeo.

October 18, 2010

Digital Marketing Trends

Social Media is a Key Ingredient to Success!

As a leader in digital marketing services, Outsell recognizes that social media tools are becoming synonymous with our industry. TopRank, the Online Marketing Blog, took a poll last year of the top tactics individuals and companies were using for accomplishing digital marketing goals despite the recession.

Blogging was ranked #1 while microblogging, i.e. Twitter, was a close second, followed not too far by sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn for networking.
Even companies that provide more than marketing and PR to their customers are seeing the need to utilize social media in order to reach potential clients with their services.

David Berkowitz in an article for AdvertizingAge last Spring summed it up perfectly when answering how someone can best amplify their social marketing:

“The single best thing you can do strategically is include social media as part of the fabric of your overall marketing and brand building, rather than as a detachable add-on.”

-Digital Marketing Guide: Social Media

Now is the time of Web 2.0, when being a part of the online community is no longer passive, but interactive at its best. Digital marketing especially faces many challenges in keeping up with the expansion of social media in the everyday practice of reaching clients, our clients’ customers, and comrades in the industry.

Outsell is committed to this aspect of our growth as we continue to expand beyond the tribulations of economic downturn. You can follow Outsell on Twitter here.

Even almost a year ago USA Today reported that:

“More than half of the Fortune 100 companies are using Twitter for customer service, recruiting employees, blasting news and announcing promotions, according to the study by public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and its digital-media unit, Proof.”

-Social media like Twitter change customer service

However, on October 4, 2010, 1to1 Media admitted:

“Social media for service still remains in the early adoption stages, leaving companies to grapple with a serious challenge: how to integrate the data feeds from social channels with customer information from their existing chat, email, and phone channels.”

-The Missing Link in Customer Service

It may be some time before customer service through Twitter and other social media sites evolves to the usefulness and effectiveness of online chat and call centers. In the meantime Outsell will be keeping a close eye on how social media can facilitate further growth in our own digital marketing endeavors.