AKRON — As part of my research for this social media blog, I have done a lot of industry-specific searches to see who is using what sites and how. I expected a significant amount of dealers to be using Facebook — which they are — and a decent amount would be using Twitter — which was accurate as well. However, there was one area where I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of dealers who were participating: blogging.
I patrolled many dealer websites and was intrigued about the amount of information that was being provided for customers right on the company websites. I was blown away by the crafty wordsmiths in the industry!
Blogs can be a beneficial way for you to speak with your customers on a relatable level. For Tire Business, the blog allows us to speak less formally about topics facing the tire industry today. You can take that principle and apply it to your customers—what information would they need to hear about? Think about what information they would appreciate to learn in "layman 's terms."
"We write articles about oil changes, when you need to get new tires, the importance of tire rotations, and general articles on routine maintenance," said Rick Johnson, Jr. of Naples, Fla.-based Rick Johnson Auto & Tire.
"We want to make sure that our customers are empowered with the best information about what they can do to be proactive to take care of their cars. Our customers have invested a lot of their hard-earned money into their cars, and we want to make sure they get the most of their investment."
This is the type of information that can really help your customers. And honestly, who better to let them know than you—the very people that can perform the services they need?
Mr. Johnson added, "If we can help them (customers) save money by taking care of their cars in the best possible way, then I feel as though we have accomplished our goal."
He said that sometimes, despite all the preventative maintenance out there, cars break down. By creating a "strong online relationship" with customers, they know "they can trust that their investment will be safeguarded."
Mr. Johnson said the company first started using social media as a way to help its customer retention efforts. He said Rick Johnson Auto is a local business that grew from four locations in 2007 to 10 stores throughout Southwest Florida.
"We needed a better way to reach customers with special promotions, help with any potential concerns that may arise, and build our base of supporters," he said.
He added the company is "very proactive" and tries to show people the company cares and not just for marketing.
"We use social media to offer our customers a venue online to find coupons, offer suggestions, and leave feedback," Mr. Johnson said.
"Sites like Facebook and Twitter are part of our overall social media strategy to communicate effectively with our customers and listen to their feedback. That's an important way to spend our time, which is why I support it so much."
Mr. Johnson noted the company posts blog articles about relevant topics for the customers and use a WordPress management system, which makes it "quick and easy to do."
Rick Johnson Auto hired Atilus, a Web-design company that provides Internet marketing, to work as the company's online advertising and marketing team.
"Our technology team at Atilus helps make sure that our blogs are optimized for search engines so that we can reach our customers better," he added.
For its overall online presence, Rick Johnson Auto posts blogs on the website that can be integrated into other social media platforms.
"We are currently using Facebook and Twitter the most, but may expand into additional social media platforms in the future," Mr. Johnson said.
"We want to make sure that our social media efforts are coordinated in the best possible way to ensure our customer experience is the best it can be."
Mr. Johnson said they get inspiration for blogs from feedback both from online and from customers in the stores.
He added, "I have often said that our customers are the best in the world. We receive comments and suggestions from them about our website, our blog, Facebook and Twitter all the time.
"Feedback has been very positive and we are continually looking for ways to improve our customer service process. By expanding our presence online we have many avenues to solicit feedback about what we are doing well and ways in which we could service our customers better."
Rick Johnson Auto is using blogging to get the best information out to its customers. When a consumer is determining who to look to for service, this type of information may help because you are showing why you are the expert.
Still have questions? Any subjects you'd like to see covered on this blog? Let me know at 330-865-6143, firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to Tire Business at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at email@example.com.