One of the keys to social media is that it is supposed to be sincere. As a result, I always tell companies to get involved on a personal level regardless of whether they’re a local car dealer, a manufacturer, or anywhere in between.

Mazda_FacebookWith that said, I was discouraged by an ad for a Social Media Marketing Manager for Mazda corporate. The ad itself is fine – they seem to be looking for the right person with some of the right criteria around which to hire. They posted it in the right places and will probably receive a huge response.

Mazda_TwitterThe problem that I found isn’t in the fact that they’re trying to hire someone. My concern is that they’re in no position to hire someONE to manage their social media. They don’t really have social media. For all intents and purposes, they are invisible on Web 2.0. At this stage of the game, they don’t need a manager because they have very little to manage.

In an ideal situation, their first “hire” should be a firm. This firm, the RIGHT firm, would establish a social media strategy in the uber-competitive (and exponentially growing) world of automotive social media that caters to and enhances the brand, the qualities of the company and the products, the differentiation between their target markets and their top competitors, and a clear cut series of concepts and plans to give the company viral buzz.

Once that’s established, they (or any other corporation in that situation) would be able to hire the right person to monitor and manage the efforts. To try to hire someone before that, regardless of their experience and qualifications, would be a mistake. Why? Think of it like football:

Football teams that are successful season after season do so because they establish a direction for the team and get the players that fit best within that plan. Troy Aikman turned out to be an amazing quarterback in college and the NFL, but he didn’t fit into the wishbone scheme at Oklahoma. Once he transferred to a more pass-friendly school he was able to be successful and was drafted #1 by the Cowboys. Three Superbowls later, it was clear that he made the right choices and the teams he played for made even better choices.

The same applies here for Mazda. If they don’t set the proper direction and lay the groundwork in social media, they are playing hit or miss with their social media marketing manager. The strengths of the individual do not outweigh the benefits of hiring someone tailored to specific social media styles and campaigns.

Here is where they’re lacking after a quick analysis:

  • Twitter (and no, they’re not @mazda on Twitter)
  • Facebook (and yes, that really is their page with less than 1,000 fans)
  • Social news sites such as Digg (where the vast majority of their buzz is negative)
  • Blogging (do they have a blog?)
  • Buzz monitoring (will they even be aware that blog posts such as this exist and will they reply as they should?)

… and that’s just scratching the surface.

Mazda_Digg

If they do listen, we’ll know because they won’t hire a social media marketing manager before having a campaign already active and designed by a social media marketing team. Why wait? Because they must know which direction their heading and which paths they’re going to take before selecting the vehicle that will get them there.

Here’s a more appropriate analogy: They want to get from point A (where they are today in social media) to point B (success in social media). With hundreds of different paths available, how do they know which vehicle to purchase to get them there? What if they buy (hire) a Hummer and the road that will get them most effectively to point B is long distance and all highway? Had they known the path, they would have bought (hired) a Ferrari (or a motorcycle, or a Prius – all better choices than a Hummer for that kind of path).

Let’s say they buy (hire) a Ferrari, then after seeing the map they realize that it’s better to go offroad and cut through to the other end. They should have bought (hired) a Jeep (or a helicopter for that matter) to get them to point B.

I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that they’ve already hired a reputable and capable firm to lay the groundwork and initiate a plan and that the plan just hasn’t been put into place yet. It’s still not ideal as the plan should be in play before they make the hire, but it’s better than hiring someONE responsible for putting it all together with an internal team.

Sadly, out of the thousands of social media firms out there, I’ve only found a half dozen or so that can truly handle corporate level automotive social media. I would know about it if they hired one of these firms, so if they already do have a firm retained, it’s probably not the right one.

/rant – time to get back to business.

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Read more about Automotive Social Media on this Social Media Blog.

Written by JD Rucker
+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.