AKRON (Aug. 9, 2013) — Here's a news flash to anyone who's been living offline for the past few years: Using social media is becoming increasingly important to your business.
That's the message being delivered almost weekly in the pages of Tire Business and at just about every dealer meeting, industry conference, webinar, etc. coming down the pike.
That being said, however, there's no one pat answer—or method—as to how a tire dealership or auto service shop should implement a social media strategy, how extensive it should be, or how much time should be spent implementing and/or maintaining it.
So how does a dealer go about "getting savvy" on social media, especially since the definition of "social media" is evolving and changing, seemingly on a daily basis?
Marketing and franchising groups appear to be stepping into the void full force with training programs, seminars/webinars and other forms of advice.
In the past few issues of Tire Business, readers have been offered commentary from a number of executives at firms from diverse backgrounds, including Federated Auto Parts Inc., American Tire Distributors (ATD)/Tire Pros, and Integra Tire & Auto Centres Ltd., about how to get up to speed on using social media.
Referring to sites such as Yelp or Facebook, for instance, Federated Auto Parts Vice President Mike Allen said they can have a "tremendous force-multiplying effect that can have either a positive or negative impact on business."
Because of that, Federated felt it was of "paramount importance to inform and support our service provider partners" about the ins and outs of social media, Mr. Allen said.
For a lot of small, independent dealers, social media and digital marketing "are a whole new world," said Dan Brown, president of Tire Pros and executive vice president of sales for ATD, who noted these dealers—many of whom are owner-operators—"don't have the time to stop and look at the bigger picture."
Integra's Trey Tyler stressed that incorporating social media is especially important to the automotive service industry "because it's all about relationships and trust with your customers."
Trust also is the operative word for dealers when seeking advice on social media. To stay in the game, they should find a trusted partner with whom to consult.
Ignoring the use of social media could leave a business in the rearview mirror of its more online-savvy competitors.
This editorial appears in the Aug. 5 print edition of Tire Business.
Wondering how you can get onboard social media? Check out TB's blogsite every other Monday for social media-related "how-to" and "why" blog posts. Or, if you want a more visual representation, visit Tire Business' data store for a free three-part social media webinar series.