This is a transcript of MM Podcast Episode 004: How Auto Dealers Should Use Twitter, Facebook, And YouTube With Rachel Haro.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode 4 of the Motorcar Marketing podcast. In this episode’s main segment, I’m going to be interviewing Rachel Harrow. Rachel is an expert at social media marketing and has worked with lots of car dealerships build their following and drive more sales. We’ll dig into some specific strategies for Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. So stay tuned for that.
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A couple of quick notes. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on the blog and show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all of the podcast show notes at www.motorcarmarketing.com/podcasts. If you’d like to get a free guide Selling More Cars on Craigslist, just go to www.motorcarmarketing.com. Put in your email and name in the form of a sidebar. This guide goes through all the recent craigslist changes and shows you some actual statistics from dealerships who post heavily on craigslist, both now and last year before the changes were rolled out. So if you’re wondering if you should still be posting your cars on craigslist or wondering how to get more value out of your craigslist ads, definitely check out this free video.
So now let’s get into the main segment today. I’m interviewing Rachel Harrow. She is a social media marketing expert, and she has some great insight for us today. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Rachel, to the Motorcar Marketing Podcast. I really appreciate your coming on the show.
Rachel Haro: My pleasure. Thank you for having me, Ashley.
Ashley: Thank you. To start with, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your career and how you got into social media marketing?
Rachel Haro: Sure. Absolutely. I started in advertising, traditional advertising about 15 years ago working at a small local agency, and a couple of my accounts were dealerships. And I was handling all of their media buys, video placements, print ads—you name it, I did it—script writing, off-site sales, and did that for many, many years. Actually it was about five years ago I began working for a company where I was managing 41 social media accounts, and traditional marketing had somewhat bottomed out and it had changed a little bit. So that was how it started. I was the man behind the man working for another company managing the 41 dealership accounts and eventually reached the conclusion that there was no way that you can network when you’re managing 41 accounts. And that was how Mouthful of Social Media was born. It was based on you’ve got to interact out there.
Ashley: So with these 41 accounts, were you doing mostly social media for them?
Rachel Haro: I was. I was managing their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube—it was actually limited at the time in terms of network because instead of having custom tabs already built, you actually had to use FBML. It was just a different breed entirely. People were just simply coasting on Facebook using their personal accounts with the business name and eventually Facebook caught on and started changing things and so here we are now with business pages.
Ashley: So let’s start out with Twitter. Can you give us some tips and tricks for car dealerships and how they can successfully sell more cars using Twitter.
Rachel Haro: Absolutely. I know that there are dealerships that raise an eyebrow and ask Twitter? You’ve got to be kidding me. Twitter is one of the most powerful networking tools that you have even for a dealership. The reason why is they’re one degree separation from your customer, and I say your customer because it could be the business and are managing the account or it could be them. So my first recommendation is to identify a circle of influencers that are going to drive your account. And I say drive your account meaning they’re going to compliment you. My grandma always says a compliment sounds better coming from someone else. So by identifying the influencers and befriending them on line, as an example, it could be the mom and pop sandwich shop down the street. It could be the telecom place down the street. It could be the Ronald McDonald House that’s in your city. The point is if you’re out there congratulating them, telling them job well-done, sharing relevant information meaning information that pertains to your community, they actually in turn will respond and start to support you. And this is where the networking comes in. I came up with something called test drive events, and pretty soon I was on Twitter. I had these wonderful interactions where I was tweeting original tweets with information about the dealership, but I was also identifying in my community different people who are on Twitter—individuals and businesses, and I began supporting them. Once I knew I had their attention, I went to my dealership and I said we’ve got to do something. These are people who like you, and people buy cars from people they like. So what are we going to do? And it was pretty simple. We pick up the phone and we said thank you. That was it. We had a great online relationship with a couple of philanthropic activities as well as libraries, and we picked up the phone you’re on my interaction. We just love to feature you on our Facebook this week. We’d love to share the fact that your organization is doing something great for others. Can we do that and while we’re at it, we’d love to bring the lunch. And so we did. We brought out two Porsches and sandwiches. It took us about two hours total for a commitment of the dealership. We had about two or three sales team members out there, and the cost was at a minimum. It was the cost of a sandwich. And that helped us actually produce leads. So, as an example, I had when I first started doing these test drive events, I was working with a very large high-line dealership group up in the Illinois area so we tried this. The Facebook page—and I know we’re talking about Twitter—but their Facebook page only had 70 likes on it, and they had six major high-line OEM’s under their umbrella. So we got out there and started doing these test drive events, just picking up the phone and saying thank you for your online interaction. We’d love to bring you lunch and a couple of cars to enjoy for an hours. Would you like that? And they all said yes. What happened was this little lazy account was producing up to a hundred leads a month, 20 to 25 leads every time we walk in the door with a tray of sandwiches. People were getting their name and so it was awesome because we started to realize they were coming back.
Ashley: So let’s break this down just a little bit into some sort of segments. So the dealership goes out, and exactly what type of business did you do these lunches with? Maybe you could give us some actual examples of it was this type of business or it was that type of business.
Rachel Haro: Sure. The first thing I look for is parking. I need access for my team members but just breaking it down right from the get-go, hey, thank you for your online interaction. We’d either (a) love to bring sandwiches and cars to you to enjoy, no obligation just have a great time on us and/or we’d like to feature you on our Facebook or share you on our social networks.
Ashley: What’s an actual example of the type of business like a manufacturing company, a hotel?
Rachel Haro: Hotels are wonderful because the reason why is you have a staff that’s able to step away. You have a cleaning staff that can step away and enjoy. One great example. We did this down in Florida with a Dodge store, and I actually did these test drive events at Florida A&M as well as FSU. I targeted each of the individual segments, each of the departments within the university so we actually did a test drive event for the sports, the boosters club. We did one for the accounting department, for the admins, and they actually allowed us to park our cars at the entrance of the football field. Another one allowed us to park the cars right in the center of the quad. So we weren’t just doing the test drive event for that particular department, we were also doing it for the university. But I would recommend take a look at a business where people can step away. You don’t want to go into an optometry office because they don’t close. If they close for lunch, great. Most don’t. But you definitely want a business where people can step away in shifts. Hotels are fantastic, and we have quite a few of those in Chicago. Any time I have anything, a new test drive event idea whether I want to bring out coffee, sandwiches, sweet tea—whatever it is—I call them and ask can I try this out with you? You’ll have your test case, but the big thing is you want to make sure you have a safe place to go in the cars, plenty of room where your team can actually test drive with these folks because yes, you’re bringing them sandwiches and yes, you’re bringing them a car but my concern is are you looking at like a week because it is. So they really are test driving. So any business where there is ample parking, your team can get in and out, I would not recommend you go into a city where you have to park down the street at a parking garage—and believe me, we’ve had those—so definitely check out the location. I would recommend that you have one sales team member for about every five attendees. Real estate offices, they’re wonderful. Chamber of Commerce. Give your chamber of commerce a call and tell them you’d love the lunch and just have a fun Porsche day or a fun Honda day and bring out the most beautiful cars you can have. Let them drive them.
Ashley: All those are great tips that are just sort of the logistical stuff. When you’re just starting to think about those sorts of events, is there like a minimum number—I mean, you mentioned an optometry office—the thing that occurs to me is that it’s probably pretty small whereas a hospital or a hotel probably literally has dozens if not hundreds of employees. So is there sort of a minimum number of people that you want to make these worthwhile?
Rachel Haro: Absolutely. I really do target places—and you mentioned hospitals have hundreds of employees—I can’t manage a test drive like that, and neither can my team members. So, I really do break it down, as I mentioned, into departments, and I really like anywhere from ten to twenty folks out there at a time. That’s ideal for me because that keeps my team hopping; they actually have me. We hand out coupons where folks enter their email addresses and their names so that they can get a discount on an oil change, free car wash—whatever it is—but I really do look for anywhere between ten and twenty folks. In other words, beyond twenty, it starts to get a little crazy. I have some seasoned teams who can handle twenty-five to thirty. Now something else that we did is I have called around—and I called them all—and I asked would you like a test drive event. They said you know, we’d love it, and they only had three people in their office. I said that’s okay, and they said maybe we can do something else. And so we came up with an event that we felt was really fun. Once a month my dealership brings over a car, and we actually all meet at a local restaurant. Each of the merchants within the mall that donated a gift—and they have a gift basket drawing. So the restaurant has a discount. Our cars are parked out front. We’re handing out coupons and greeting people at the door. All of the merchants have created this beautiful gift basket, and our total investment—because on that particular event, we’re actually getting 120 leads—an average of 120 leads—attendees off of that event. So I actually have a nice list of 100 to 120 people every month just off of that event.
Ashley: And it all starts with Twitter and interacting with these local businesses and building a relationship with these local businesses first.
Rachel Haro: Absolutely because one thing interactively I know that they want that attention. Well, I can amplify that for them by highlighting them on our Facebook where I can say thank you and make their favor worth it. I guess I’m rewarding them for supporting us online, and it’s amazing because I do treat it as though people on one. A little trick I like to play when it comes to Twitter as far as getting people to interact and to want to do a test drive event or to request one is I created a custom tab on Facebook. I also purchase a custom URL. Now I can tell you that there are dealerships out there that use things like tailgatebreak.com or testdrivetuesday.com. We’re just doing right now a heavy-duty truck test drive. So this is a new area where it is tough all the way around. Well, what can we do? How are we going to do a test drive event in the dead of Winter or during the summer? So, you know, we’ll bring out the heavy-duty trucks. We’ll take out some doughnuts and coffee to construction sites. We actually did that and that’s really paid off because what happens is the decision-makers get to drive the truck as well as the drivers are able to drive the truck and that really motivates us so the customer morale that we direct over to the custom tab tailgatebreak.com, if you go to that will take you to an actual tab. So I will put out on Twitter, mention or re-tweet us for a chance to win—whatever the name of the event is. Now the second anyone mentions or re-tweets me even if they’re not participating, they don’t know they’re participating. If somebody mentions or re-tweets me and I put that out, I will actually say thank you. Thank you for the re-tweet. You are entered to win a test drive event for your office—a test drive event lunch for your office, and I do present it as a lunch. It’s a complementary lunch, and so people go nuts when I pick up the phone and call them and say, Hey, you know you saw me on Twitter and I just wanted to say thank you and let you know you won.
Ashley: One of the things I know—some of the dealers I’ve worked with over the years are fairly small. Obviously if you reach a certain size, you can hire someone who is an expert at this like yourself. But how much time would you say a smaller dealership—because I know they’re struggling just with the day-to-day maintenance of their businesses. How much time do you think they need to invest in Twitter to be successful, and is there a minimum time like if you can’t invest at least an hour or two a week, you shouldn’t even bother?
Rachel Haro: I think you should always bother. Social media, I always do everything with my clients. Everything I do is tailored so I do have some clients who want to learn how to do their own social media. So they’ll have me go in and clean up, manage the page or the account for a while and then train them to hand it off. A big part of what I do—and I did this with the 41 accounts—I developed a rotation. I develop the social media diet and what that means is Monday morning here I am. I will actually sit down for 30 minutes—30 minutes. I actually have pretty persistent researchers, but we are all on social media diets. So for the small dealerships, sit down for 30 minutes and write seven things for postings. Guess what? You’re done for the week. As far as Twitter goes, I’m out there an average of six times a day on my accounts. It’s a pretty simple formula. I would recommend that you sit down once a week and you write two tweets—just two tweets for each day for that particular account. Now these are tweets where you’re going to share information. It could be you have something going on with a clinic—an auto service clinic—great. Go ahead and put that out there. Make sure that you’re employing traditional marketing principles, meaning you’re going to go back to radio and with radio, remember you actually have your message which is clear. You also were targeting your message at the correct audience so you were using the right voice. You’re not saying dude, come on in. If you’re talking to you had mentioned smaller dealers, smaller towns, and service, you want to make sure that the voice reflects the dealership floor. And then the third thing is call the action. You always hear that with radio. Give us a call. You want to put that link in there, something where there’s a call to action. I would actually have the dealership out there every day that they’re open. Some of my dealers are only open six days a week; others are open seven. So start out with those two tweets. Then if you wanted to, you could sit down and take a look at some of your influencers, meaning take a look around twitter, actually check the hash tags for your location. People do not actually look at the hash tags for their city and you’d be surprised at what’s out there. So I’d recommend just take a look at a couple of people. Somebody wrote “had a great time today at the boardwalk and they posted a picture. You don’t have to respond right now. Go ahead and cut and paste that. Put that in a Word document; put RT in front of it and put in your comment, “gorgeous pic”. Thanks for sharing. Put it out the next day or put it out later that afternoon. You don’t necessarily have to. In your posting you don’t necessarily have to be that reactive or responsive when it comes to your agenda. Now ideally you’re going to be out there interacting, but somebody’s going to interact with you. In that case you’d better hop all over it and respond right away to that. If they’re shouting out to you, you need to respond. A great example, Sunday afternoon, there was a man on a back lot looking at a BMW at a closed dealership, and he was wondering could he make an appointment. He liked that. What were the features? It was imperative that I respond. It was imperative that he knows he’s being heard. However, if he were out there not on my dealership lot, and he hash tagged for the particular town—I happened to identify him based on the location of his tweet—loved this new BMW, you better believe I’m going to comment. Do I have to do it at this very second? No. It’s Sunday. It happened to be they were closed, that particular dealership. I wouldn’t have seen that. They didn’t mention the dealership. I would pick it up when I’m doing my pre-writing—and that’s what I call it—prewriting. So you can actually start out with anywhere from four tweets so it would be two original and two “retweets” meaning repeats of information. Somebody shared a quote. Somebody shared information about a car, your city—whatever it is.
Ashley: One thing I see dealers do a lot—and I’d be curious to get your opinion on this—is they must find some sort of automated software that essentially re-tweets or posts their inventories to Facebook or Twitter, and I always look at that and think—you know, and you look at their account and there are like three followers. What’s your opinion of just auto-tweeting your inventory into Facebook and Twitter?
Rachel Haro: Social media, people regard this as a completely foreign entity. The truth is it’s a handshake combining with the fundamental principles of marketing. So you walk into somebody on the dealership tour; somebody walks through the door. Hey, Ashley, I have a 2012 Phony Roadie, you’d stick out your hand; you’d say hello and smile. You introduce yourself. I know dealers like to do that. And they mention they have three followers. I’m not so sure I’d want to deal with him. You need to set the party first. Set the stage. Actually get people to listen to you. Get people to like you. If you’re really just bent on sharing your inventory, make sure that you have an audience. So if you’re just sharing and putting out the inventory, I promised you, without a hash tag to index it, without followers, nobody heard you. The question is if a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear it or does it make a sound? I’m not so sure your tweet’s making a sound without those two. My thoughts, my two cents, I would focus more on the interaction. Take your agenda off the table and start to compliment your community members and start to befriend them. You’re going to find that you have more lead opportunities that way if you’re putting out an unhash-tagged undirected tweet.
Ashley: It does sound like you feel like once a dealership has made an effort to connect with the community leaders, build a natural following, do you think it’s okay then to at least some of your tweets—and I wonder maybe even if you can give us a ratio like one inventory tweet for maybe three tweets that are given—
Rachel Haro: I wouldn’t even do it that often. Once a day if you’re going to put that out, I’d say maybe one out of every six. Absolutely you can share what it is that you want to share, but remember too, when you’re putting it out there, it needs to be palatable, that people are interested in what you have to say. If you’re actually putting it out there like a solid ad like here’s the information about the car fully loaded, low miles, give me a call. If you really, really want to get it out there, I would recommend keep your agenda there but keep it at a minimum. On one of my accounts, 20 percent of their tweets are devoted to totally unrelated material—20 percent. So you can do quotations, articles, informational—whatever it is. Then you want 20 percent of their tweets to be fun. They do not want propaganda with the other 80 percent. They prefer quotations, they love statistics. If you can actually share your car, that 2012 Impala, did you know that the 2012 Impala reduces emissions. If you have that one fun fact, did you know that this is the most popular car, just share something that is of interest.
Ashley: This car is the most fuel-efficient; you have stats—and every car just about has something special about it that you could probably find.
Rachel Haro: Exactly. Highlight it. Find those one or two features, what makes that car unique because anybody can sell that car. It’s in the how to differentiate you from the others.
Ashley: So let’s move quickly on to YouTube and maybe you could give us some tips for that. Again, what I’ve seen a lot of dealerships do is they kind of create these videos but all they are is videos with still pictures swiping in and swiping out, and then they post those to YouTube. Are there some tips to how you think dealerships should be using YouTube?
Rachel Haro: YouTube the sky’s the limit. I had a very large dealership group that had so many positive comments coming in on the review sites. They’re just sitting there, and you can’t quite highlight them by putting out the quotations. So what we did is we took several of those reviews, and we put them in a little slide show which is fine. I can’t emphasize that enough but if you’re doing a walk-around, really do your thing. Make sure that if you’re filling the dash, you’re in the back seat. You can film from your phone, and it will actually stabilize that. The smaller ones (and I’m just going to address the smaller ones), the people are out there putting on videos for the sake of it. They really don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t have a keyword-rich description. They don’t have their URL’s in their description, and I’m going to tell you every video that you put up, you need to have a keyword-rich description. You also need to make sure to tag with not only your cities but your competitors’ cities. You want to make sure that you have that appropriate tag. You also want to make sure that all of your things from your website to your Facebook to your Google-Plus—whatever it is—those URL’s are in the description right underneath all of that keyword-rich text. You want to make sure to include your URL’s, all of them. Maybe it seems redundant but it’s not.
Ashley: Let’s talk a minute about mouthfulofsocialmedia.com; that is your site and kind of your hub. Can you kind of give us a two-minute elevator pitch for what you do and how you help car dealers?
Rachel Haro: Sure. Absolutely. A big specialty of mine is creating online relationships that produce off-line lead opportunities. Every site has their own off-line lead opportunity, whether it’s an article, whether it’s an actual lead and so I social network.
Ashley: If people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to find you, maybe your Twitter handle and email address, even a phone number if you want to leave that.
Rachel Haro: Sure. Absolutely. They can actually follow me on Twitter @mouthfulmedia. They can also follow me personally @rachharo. They can also email me at Rachel@mouthfulsocialmedia.com. They can also reach me through the website if you go to the website and click on contact-info will go to myself and my team.
Ashley: Okay. Perfect. And I will link to all that in the show notes so if somebody didn’t quite catch that if they’re driving in their car listening to this podcast, they can check out the show notes, and I’ll link directly to all of those links. You’ve been very generous with your time, Rachel. This has really been very eye-opening. I have not done a lot of social media for car dealers so I know I’ve learned a lot. I think you’ve really given a lot of valuable tips. Thank you very much.
Rachel Haro: Thank you.
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The next episode of the Motorcar Marketing Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Brock Coser. He’s an expert on PPC and Search Marketing. We’re going to really dig in to how car dealers can sell more cars using Paperclip and Search Marketing. If you’ve never tried PPC or you want to improve your ROI from your current campaigns, you’re not going to want to miss this interview with Brock so keep an eye out for that.
Just a couple of comments on today’s interview with Rachel. The main take-away for me is that social media marketing isn’t a short-term play; it’s about building an audience, and the way you do that is by genuinely giving value to your community first. I see too many dealerships who think that social media might be a quick way to sell cars, and it’s not. You’ve got to be willing to give value first and then you’ll start to see some ROI.
Anyway, that’s our show. I hope you get some value out of it and it can help you grow your business. Thanks for listening.