BLOG: Get active, get social
AKRON (Aug. 18, 2014) — Sometimes I think businesses get overwhelmed with social media. Either it is a time issue or they don't see an immediate ROI so they turn their backs on it. I think it's a great medium to be able to do things in unique and creative ways to reach your customers.
You can introduce your staff to your customers so they can make connections before walking into the store. You can participate in trending activities to show a lighter side of the business. You can highlight charity work you are doing in your local community. You can make videos, which are highly popular online right now. Or if you are Chantilly, Va.-based G&C Tire & Auto Service, you can put it all together.
After being challenged to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — a challenge that is exponentially going viral where people dump ice buckets on their heads and get to challenge their loved ones, all in the name of raising funds and awareness for ALS, donating $10 if a person accepts the ice bucket, and $100 if they fail to do so within 24 hours — G&C owner Gregg Caldwell made the challenge his own. Gregg got out the dealership's Bobcat, and with the help of an employee, got soaked.
Editor's Note: Check out the publication Gregg chose to be reading!
I really wanted to feature G&C for this blog because of the way they put it all together. In this one video, G&C combined so many different aspects that make being on social media as a business great.
Gregg said the company has a lot of community involvement, and when one of his customer's sons challenged him, he went all in.
“Instead of just a bucket,” he said, “what can we do that's different?”
Gregg said Phillip Reamy, an employee who helps him out a lot on social media, etc., came up with the Bobcat idea.
Gregg also took the challenge one step further by challenging all of his customers, stating he would match the donations — up to a certain point.
Customers have come in to get splashed by the Bobcat bucket as well, and G&C has posted some of these videos on the company's social media pages.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may seem silly, but it's raising funds for a good cause. As of Aug. 17, The ALS Association has received $13.3 million in donations compared with $1.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 17). These donations have come from existing donors and 259,505 new donors to the association.
G&C uses YouTube to post all kinds of videos, from fun things like this to customer testimonials, etc. It has more than 300 videos posted there.
“We actually bought a drone as an April's Fools Day joke to do kind of a spoof on the Amazon delivery,” Gregg said.
That started a lot of interesting videos using the drone. The goal is to put something interesting up that customers want to watch, he said.
“As a company, it helps us because they start recognizing G&C doing different things,” Gregg added.
“I think we're getting people coming in and mentioning it…. They see us having a good time. I mean, it's auto repair, tires: none of that stuff is fun. It's like going to the dentist. It's not fun money they are spending with us. It's something they have to do.”
It helps customers see that G&C employees have smiling faces and are having a good time as they work.
“Nobody likes to come to an auto repair shop, so if you can try to change that culture just a little bit…it can work wonders for you,” Phillip added.
Gregg said when growing G&C's social media pages, the one thing he made sure the company did was keep it personal. He spoke to some third-party companies that will host company Facebook pages, and he said they told him it was too personal.
“That gave me no desire to turn it over to another company,” he said.
“People do care about us…. I like to go to a business that I know the owner and I know the people. A lot of websites or Facebook pages, you go to them and you wouldn't know who owns the business. I think it's very obvious if you go on our website, Facebook, you know who the owners are; you know who the people are.”
One other thing I wanted to note about G&C is that the dealership has public computers in its waiting rooms so that customers can use these to do business, etc. while they are waiting for repairs on their vehicles. Gregg said he has seen customers engaging with them on social media at these computers. Additionally, Gregg advises partnering with other local businesses on social media campaigns so you can share each other's content.
Gregg explained there is a local business around the corner from G&C that sells lobsters, so they partnered with them for “Lobster Thursdays” — where customers come in for a certain service and they get a coupon for a lobster. This campaign was both promoted online and in the store.
Ironically, as I was preparing to write this blog, I was called out to do the challenge myself. I donated money and still did the challenge. Here is proof I did my part:
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Tire Business would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor Don Detore at [email protected].