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Facebook: Like or Dislike?

July 12, 2012

So, I arrived home to an excited wife the other day. Apparently, that rewards card our go-to supermarket scans at checkout does more than I thought, because she received an e-mail alerting her that the stuff we buy the most was on sale. And apparently, my wife and I drink a lot of beer, because Shock Top and Peroni were the first items listed.

I guess I can see why she was excited. I mean, receiving a customized e-mail informing us that our favorite stuff is on sale is a lot better than having to rifle through the Sunday paper for specials. And talk about an effective call to action. I mean, we were a couple of days from making our weekly supermarket run, but that photo of an ice-cold Peroni was all I needed to buck our routine.

And that’s what every marketer is after, to push out an ad that forces end-users to take action. So, what’s the secret sauce? Is it coupons in an e-mail, a newspaper ad, or a banner ad on a website? Is it the messaging, the word choice, or just being in the right place at the right time?

The answer is all of the above, and that’s what makes marketing so fun. Sure, there are metrics that can tell you what strategies work better than others, but sometimes the metrics can’t tell you everything.

And that’s my problem with today’s marketers. They love the Internet because it allows them to track impressions and clicks. It’s smart to want that capability, but sometimes I think we get too wrapped up in what the numbers say and don’t rely enough on instinct. And, frankly, that’s why Facebook is such a neat topic these days. It calls into question many of the beliefs held by today’s marketers.

I’m talking Facebook this month because my newest writing prodigy, Stephanie Forshee, steps into our world this month with a story on the social media site. She talked to two dealers who swear by the social network despite not being able to quantify its effectiveness.

I know you’re shaking your head, wondering why we would profile two dealers’ Facebook efforts if they can’t calculate their ROI. To that, I respond with a question: What numbers did we as an industry reference when we decided that those giant, inflatable gorillas and waving-arm guys really helped to draw in customers?

And to me, that’s what Facebook is. It’s a big gorilla on top of our store that we use to call attention to our brand. But Facebook can be a dangerous place, because people can’t read tone, which leaves what you write open to interpretation.

When dealers started making their way onto Facebook during the downturn, marketers warned against trying to sell products or services. They claimed that was the easiest way to lose people’s attention. I don’t think they were wrong in saying that, but I don’t think they were entirely right.

See, I know a dealer who posts fun content, such as asking fans to create a caption for photos he posted. I also know another dealer who uses Facebook to push his inventory. And you know what? Both dealerships feel their strategies work, and that’s what really matters, right?

When I operate on Facebook, I always try to anticipate the reactions I’ll get with each post. Then I weigh whether I’m ready to handle the negative comments or not. And if the discussion takes a bad turn, I try not to engage in a debate. Rather, I try to make them a champion of my cause.

I also stay away from adding my opinion to a post until I can get a read on what the audience is thinking. And in the social realm, that old "If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it all" saying really does apply. Yeah, I know some people could use a reality check now and then, but don’t be the person to deliver it.

See, I love Facebook because it serves as a reminder that marketing, in many ways, is about luck and timing. Yes, there are a lot of experts running around out there touting their Facebook know-how, but I’m not sure anyone has really figured out what works.

And that brings me to the main reason I like the site. It reminds us that operating on a gut feeling isn’t always bad. I agree that data-driven decisions are what we should aim for, but don’t discount instinct. Hey, it’s what this industry was built on, right?

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Author Bio

Gregory Arroyo

Executive Editor

Gregory Arroyo serves as executive editor for F&I and Showroom magazine.

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