To be an Automotive Company or Dealership at this exact moment in time can be tough. Social Media has annexed all natural distribution of selling and altered the performance salespersons have perfected for years. It has become alarming to many, not identifying the purpose of talking to people online, generating content to share and setting up shop on things called social networks. Many still think Social Media’s sole purpose is for personal use and have yet unleashed its possibilities to gain when using social sites for business.
Let’s face it, the world is perpetually getting smaller, our communication evolution has unveiled itself and we have accepted it with a welcoming hashtag and a Facebook Page. No one wants a one-way conversation or a sales pitch. People want virtual handshakes, conversations and promotions that relate to them as people, not as pockets.
We may love real-time, we may lead fast lives, but we do not want to be undervalued.
Dealers need to absorb the alterations that have come to the way we do business. We need to formulate means to distribute Dealerships from a human approach and begin assessing connections with people, and not dollar signs.
There is no better example within the realm of Social Media for the Automotive Industry than Ford Motor Company. Their sophisticated leader, Scott Monty has generated a Social Media team to envy. Monty continuously proves Ford’s comprehension of the value Social Media emphasizes in building relationships with customers first. Ford exposes forward thinking content with no fear and no hesitation in its innovations.
Social Media has become a consumers compass as to where and who they want to engage in business with, it has certainly expanded outside the “friends and family only” zone and has parked itself within various aspects of our daily lives and interactions. People are relying heavily on what their peers have to say; even complete strangers can persuade a person from doing business at your Dealership. Social Media is your platform to change a mind and to connect with your community. It is an opportunity to make a person smile, think, learn and share a moment with you.
When evidence of efforts is demonstrated, people do not forget. You need to find a shared connection, a link between your dealership and the people you want to engage with and allow customer service to dominate your dealerships purpose.
Ford has become a leading example of how to relate to people. They sponsor many popular events, conventions and even TV Shows, to have a presence in the hobbies you as a consumer enjoy. Their purpose is not to flaunt a car in your face and run down the pricing and features. Instead, they support what you like, will be present at popular conventions you find pleasure in, and remain available to the public with a profound openness.
Ford’s latest online adventure includes a puppet, yes a puppet, named Doug. This original and creative character has a sarcastic, humorous, yet likable personality that people will find relatable. Doug is the official 2012 Ford Focus spokespuppet, who will be traveling and speaking with everyday people. His escapades are viewable on YouTube.
Watch Ford Taps Doug (the Orange Puppet) as 2012 Focus Spokesperson:
How can a Puppet sell cars?
This is how Ford has put Ford in FORwarD thinking; it may leave many within the Automotive Industry scratching their heads, perhaps from not understanding the purpose or from being in awe, either way, it will get your attention.
The deployment of thinking so outrageously outside of the box by using a fictional character to narrate Ford’s storyline is genius. Not only will they entice laughter and buzz, they are providing entertainment, Ford now becomes the setting, the puppets Ford Focus adventures become a storyline and the audience, well, that becomes you. You as the viewer will most likely share the video, talk about Ford’s puppet Doug or ask a friend if they have seen this cool Ford video about a puppet on YouTube.
Whatever way you share it, does not matter, the point is, you will, and the person in whom you shared it with, will rinse and repeat. Now, whether you talk about “that cool Ford puppet video”, Doug’s experiences around the water cooler, or discussing how bizarre it is for Ford to have a red puppet…you are talking, and therefore Ford has done its job.
The next time you think of creating a promotion or a means to market your Dealership, dare to leap outside of your comfort zone. Think of current popular trends that you could apply, ask your community what they like and use that knowledge to invent something FORDtastic.
It is time to put your Dealership in the passenger seat and let your community drive.
What is your favorite Automotive Social Media campaign?
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Erin Ryan is a Social Media Specialist and you can follow her on Twitter @TheErinRyan. She has a keen understanding of the power of Social Media for business and fervently stays up-to-date with the Social Media Industry.