Facebook, Twitter, and similar Internet interaction sites are quickly becoming the average person’s first line of contact with the outside world, and the Internet has almost completely replaced print media and airwave advertising. Be a part of it. Embrace it instead of avoiding it. Point one: You don’t know unless you are there. If you do not have Facebook and Twitter account, open one today.
Facts: 57% of all American adults have a Facebook account, and 64% visit the site or read notifications daily.  The average adult has 340 friends. Young adults 18-29 have over 500. Most of these will be local people.  Half of the people who use the internet who do not have Facebook themselves live with someone who does. (Pew Research 2014)

Someone “liking” your dealership Page on Facebook exposes you instantly to between 340 and 500 people. Every time you post something new, it shows on the pages of those who liked your page, and is visible to all their friends. Posting purchases (with permission) and tagging the buyer does what no other print or airwave media can: it says: “Jane Smith bought a 2009 Ford Fusion from ABC Auto Sales.” It does this instantly. Not even Jane will personally tell 500 people where she bought her last car. But Facebook just did. And in the picture, she is smiling.

When you tell someone you bought a car, the invariable questions are: What did you buy, who did you buy it from, and did you get a good deal? Each person you tell has to ask, and you have to answer those questions repeatedly. The purchase status answers the first two. Then, if just one person comments on that status, and asks Jane, she only has to answer it once, but 340-500 people just got the same information. All at the speed of light. Tag your sales rep in the status, too, and Jane’s friends will know who to ask for. Hundreds of potential referral clients and all you did was copy a picture to a website, type a car description, and a couple names. Extreme Business Person Bonus points for a two-minute video of Jane gushing about her purchase.   

Use Facebook to promote your dealership and its’ community position. Get involved in the local charity events, and post that to your page. People really do respond positively when local businesses participate. Other business owners who participate will also be more open to doing trade with someone who has the same social involvement level. Besides that, the networking connections you develop could help you in more ways than you imagine.

Be supportive of the locals. Congratulate the high school or college team for making playoffs. If you are in a college town, images of mascots are huge draws. Ask the local team to come by and take pictures with your staff to post to your page, and donate for the trip to Capital City for the big game, or to purchase instruments for the band.  Host the fund-raising car wash.

Bonus: people can write reviews and put them on your page. Not just their friends, but anyone who sees the page will see the review. If it’s all good, then you get a lot of good press for free. If it’s bad, then maybe you should review your business practices and training. Even if you do get a bad review, the public wants to know how you handle it. If you respond positively and quickly, then that shows that businesses may make mistakes, but you are willing to address them. Never respond angrily or with accusations. Contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right, but to his friends, he is. Do not post fake reviews. They will be exposed, and you will look much worse for it.

Shakespeare said that the evil that men do lives after them, the good is buried with them. It is true. One hateful, angry tirade will be findable on the internet and reposted for years and years, and be available to anyone on any search page even long after your business is closed. In this age of screenshots, even deleting it will not make it go away. Make sure that the business owner or general manager approves all except routine postings. You have an image to protect, and recent news shows that it can be ruined or permanently scarred with just one bad status. Take a couple hours one day and search for the term “Social Media Blunders.” You will be entertained and disgusted, but most hopefully, enlightened and educated at the raw destructive power of just one sentence. 

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