The following article is based on Michael Schmidt and Chad Colby's presentation at the 2017 Dealership Minds Summit. To watch the presentation, click here.

A perennial pain point in many dealerships is the topic of social media promotion. Nobody denies its potential as a valuable marketing and customer service tool, but two tough questions have prevented many dealers from reaping the full benefits. What kind of content should my company be posting? And who should be in charge of managing it?

One of the most well attended roundtable discussions during the 2017 Dealership Minds Summit, this session quickly took on the atmosphere of a classroom or clinic due to the considerable success that co-moderators Michael Schmidt and Chad Colby of Central Illinois Ag have found through their dealership’s use of social media, and their eagerness to share their practices with the group. Colby set the tone when he kicked off discussion by stating, “There’s no coffee shop anymore. Social media is your customers’ new local gathering place where the conversations happen.”

What kind of content should we post? In a busy dealership environment where spare time is often in short supply and staff is spread thin, finding the time to develop and post content is a challenge echoed by most dealers. One dealer said he found that by simply sharing the manufacturers’ content he has been able to keep his customers informed about his products in real-time without having to invest the time or effort gathering the information himself.

Schmidt shared with the group how he found success running a “12 Days of Christmas” promo, where the dealership featured a different piece of equipment each day. This promotion created fun and engaging content perfect for social media, while directly resulting in measurable equipment sales.

Another dealer explained that as much as social media can keep customers informed about product lines and dealership promotions, it’s equally effective as a tool to connect with customers on a personal level. He explained that by featuring his employees, the dealership’s involvement out in the community and the positive interactions with their customers, he’s found social media to be a valuable tool for branding their dealerships as a neighborhood company that people can feel good about doing business with.

Who should be in charge of managing it? Those in the group who have found success on social media agreed that whether in the showroom, the service bay or at a customer’s farm, each employee has the opportunity to offer their own unique perspective within the business to find content that will resonate with the audience. And it is critical to empower staff with the permissions and tools to push out content, while defining it as an expectation of their job.

One dealer explained that you don’t have to look very far outside of your circle to find a social media savvy person who can take ownership of efforts as an affordable alternative to a full time marketing manager. He shared a story about a local orchard that doubled its sales during their short summer season by handing over its social media responsibilities to a college-aged summer employee who was already highly engaged in social media on a personal level, and eager to take on the role to build up her resume.



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