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Actually, it’s more social than marketing

You see them more often than not.

The fixture at the parts counter — you know, the guy who has done it all, knows it all or at least talks about it all. And boy does he talk. Sometimes it’s at the parts counter with your staff, other times at the service counter with your customers. The sales guys are a bit leery of him, simply because he can monopolize their time.

Sometimes he’s a part-time employee who hangs around before and after his hours, but more often than not, he’s a regular customer who does more gabbing than purchasing.

Mostly, it’s all in good fun. He may complain bitterly about the new emission regulations and how he’ll never give up his two-stroke, regardless of what that cursed federal government does. But, really, he’s good folk. In fact, in many ways, he’s a byproduct of the atmosphere we strive for: casual, easygoing and horsepower-happy.

What’s better: He’s a walking, breathing CRM tool for your dealership.

And funny enough, even if he’s a part-time employee, he rarely sells anything. At least not in any straightforward fashion. He talks up the new saddlebags. He combs the latest magazine reviews while draining your last cup or two of coffee and then grouses over the empty pot and the lack of customer service skills in today’s youth.

He’s the classic regular, the unequivocal “Cheers” blend of Cliff and Norm. And he’s the perfect image to have in your mind as you enter the social media world.

How does one approach and then successfully manage a site on the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook? It’s marketing, right? So shouldn’t it be about special offers and special events? Not exactly. Actually, it’s more social than marketing. It’s more Norm than normal marketing.

It’s about conveying that genuine live-it, breathe-it passion that Mr. Regular conveys to your in-store customers.

Except this social media sensation, this Facebook explosion of 500 million-plus and counting, is infinitely more powerful and more lasting than even Mr. Regular. It’s a constant connection with your enthusiast consumer, a never-ending chance to keep their attention — and disposable income — in the right place.

But it all starts with Mr. Regular, or at least his engaging manner. Think of these now-famous scenes on “Cheers” when Norm strolls into the bar to the chorus of his name, sits heavily upon a bar stool, throws down a gulp of beer and then makes some quip about his day. It’s usually laughable, but always engaging.

Your dealership Facebook site should be no different. It’s a meeting place where conversation comes first, and if the latter is any good, then the marketing opportunities blossom.

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But first and foremost, it’s about engaging conversation. Note that conversation cannot be a one-way street. If you or your staff are posting to Facebook and not getting any type of interaction, then you might as well be talking to the walls in your store.

See, the challenge of Facebook is its popularity. The average Facebook user has 130 Friends, folks who are posting as much and probably more content than you do. Meaning your posts can quickly get lost in a blizzard of content flowing to that consumer’s Facebook site. How do you become a presence in that sea of voices?

Facebook actually has an algorithm that measures which posts should go to the top of a person’s homepage. This algorithm is probably guarded more closely than Coca-Cola’s ingredients, but we do know there are three critical factors: 1) timeliness of the post; 2) interaction and 3) the level of interaction between a user and a site. The latter essentially means how much a reader is doing on your dealership’s Facebook site. Are they clicking on a photo? Are they typing a response to your post? Are they adding their own photos?

All of these act as signals to Facebook that posts from your site should get preferential treatment and placement on a consumer’s page.

So how do you create that interaction? Think simple. It’s open-ended questions like “Where did you go riding this weekend?” Or “TGIF. Just hours away from my ride through the hills of Red Wing, Minn. Where are you headed this weekend?”

It’s encouraging your customers to show off their own custom cruiser or specially rigged quad on your site.
It’s simple, engaging and as chatty as Mr. Regular, just without the grousing and coffee grounds.

Neil Pascale is the business development
manager for Dominion Powersports, the
parent company of PowerSports Network,
Cycle Trader, Traffic Log Pro and Ziios.
He can be reached at
neil.pascale@dominionpowersports.com.

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