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BLOG: Wrapping up the year with social media

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PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic (Dec. 10, 2013) — As I thought about how social media has grown over the past year I wanted to speak with an expert on the topic and see where social media stands today.

My wish was granted.

During the 2013 Kumho Dealer Meeting in Punta Cana, I had the opportunity to sit down with Megan Wentz, marketing communications coordinator at Kumho Tires U.S.A. Inc., and pick her brain about what’s what in social media.

She said the best thing a dealer can do is “figure out where your target demographic is spending their time online.”

Megan said for Kumho, they have found that running promotions on Facebook have been successful because their target demographic is spending time there online so they are benefitting from being active there.

A dealer should recognize that people do not typically use social media for business, she said, so “being entertaining” is important and “then sneak in the tires.”

This can be done on a bigger or smaller scale, depending on the size of the company. For instance, Kumho is obviously a larger company than a small independent tire shop, so the tire maker can run bigger contests and promotions.

Megan said about a year ago Kumho ran a VIP sweepstakes that had one winner, plus three guests, who were flown out to see a Miami Heat or LA Lakers basketball game.

That is something that is just plain fun, but other contests can integrate products into them. Megan said they also run smaller promotions where people can win Kumho T-shirts, etc.

She said the beautiful thing about social media is that you can review and adjust based on the results of any campaign, and that there are so many opportunities out there to connect — especially if you think outside the box.

An example she always goes back to is when she spoke with a man in the remote control business. Once the recession hit, consumers were spending more time indoors, watching their TVs. This gave the remote control businessman an opportunity to market his products in different ways since there was a bigger market for them.

Megan also suggested that tire dealers of any size can benefit from doing Living Social or Groupon deals. She said it can especially be a good way for “Mom & Pop” type stores to get their name out to the community.

“It’s a great way to grow business,” Megan added.

However, you want to make sure that you have the capability to keep up with the demand coming in when you run those types of promotions. You do not want it to backfire and have to turn anyone away because you do not have the manpower.

Going into 2014, Megan said her best advice is for dealers to know where their target demographics are. Though Facebook, and even Twitter, used to be considered a way to reach younger generations, as more time progresses, older generations are actually becoming the ones you reach on Facebook.

She said part of the fun of social media is that it is constantly evolving. “It’s never stagnant.”

When we were speaking about how smaller dealerships may be apprehensive to sign on to trying social media because they do not have a lot of time, she said it can be easier for smaller dealerships to have a strong social media presence because they have fewer markets to juggle.

“The smaller you are, I think, the easier it is to use,” she said.

Even if you have one person who is dedicated to developing a strategy and posting on the sites, it can be easier because you can keep it localized. You can speak about your community and what is happening, whereas a national company has to try to relate to many different markets, but may not have any more people available to be part of the social media team.

You can also use social media, such as Facebook, to connect with others in the community. Public events are being posted all over Facebook. Start checking those out and see what you can get involved in or attend. Social media can help facilitate relationships offline too.

As social media progresses, we are seeing that there is more of a price to it. Every turn you make on a business page on Facebook, it is asking you if you want to boost your post or create an ad.

Megan said even for a company the size of Kumho, it can be hard to justify spending for social media campaigns, but they can be worth it. She said the best thing you can do is measure the ROI.

Marketing in general can be hard to learn what promotion can help the business because so much of it is long term, however, you can set goals for the promotions. Megan said to figure out what you want to achieve from the campaign beforehand and then access and adjust if need be afterwards.

Is your objective to gain Facebook followers? Do you want to have more shares? What are the stats you want to hit?

You want to make them realistic, but Megan said using your analytics is what will help you create a budget for social media.

She said if a dealer is having a hard time finding a place to start, just think about what you use social media for. Do you have a Facebook page? Do you have a Twitter account? Do people you know use these sites? What are the things they like to see?

You want to make educational decisions. Why not ask your followers what they want? Pose a question or two and see what happens. Megan said looking up free resources to learn how to apply certain techniques can help, too. YouTube has free tutorials of social media marketing dealers can use to generate different ideas for their businesses.

Utilizing YouTube might be another way to reach your customers. Videos on the site do not have to be professionally made; having a topic people want enough information on can be enough. For instance, is there a local race event? Why not tape it and post it for people who couldn’t make it or want to check something out again?

Megan said a lot of the ideas she has learned about came from a book called “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future” by Chris Guillebeau. So if you need help with an idea for a Christmas present, maybe check it out.

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