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BLOG: Part 1: Social media advice from the ITEC Internet Marketing Panel

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The Internet Marketing Panel at ITEC: Top Row: Ross McArthur, Jessica Coonan; Middle Row: Alpio Barbara; Bottom Row: Mark Gillard, Patrick Braswell

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2014) — The recent 2014 International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Orlando was packed with best practices for tire dealers across all facets of the tire and automotive service industries.

One resounding theme throughout the conference was how important it is for tire dealers to sign on line and get active.

The Internet Marketing Panel, moderated by Tire Business’ online manager Alaina Scott, detailed social media and online marketing tips by some tire industry experts. Panelists broke down how to utilize the social media and online platform to leverage your business in today’s market. They gave such great content, I am going to separate it into two different blogs, so keep your eyes out for the Sept. 29 edition of the social media blog for more tips from our experts.


Want more content from the 2014 ITEC Show? Check out the Sept. 15 print issue of Tire Business


Here are some of the questions Alaina asked the panel:

  • What is ad retargeting and what are the pros and cons?

Patrick Braswell, director of strategies initiatives, TCS Technologies, stepped up to analyze this practice. Basically, this is when a little image in a website can track you. He asked the crowd if they ever felt like they were being stalked online because they are seeing the same ad everywhere they go. That is ad retargeting.

Patrick said this can be a cool tool for tire dealers because the “shop and sale cycle of a tire consumer is seven days at the most.” Usually people buy tires within 36 hours, he said, but people will buy up to seven days later. If tire dealers use ad retargeting, they can retarget consumers as they continue searching online. It can help complete that purchase because it is keeping your company in their heads.

Mark Gillard, marketing and advertising manager, Norwell, Mass.-based Sullivan Tire & Auto Service, said the whole process is funny to him because obviously he does a lot of Google searches for tires “and now I have tire ads all over the place.”

This is a sentiment I can relate to. I am probably one of a handful of 28-year-old women who repeatedly have ads for TPMS and tires dominating their online space — of course intermixed with some shoes and handbags.

Mark said ad retargeting can be a fantastic tool; however, you have to be careful because it can be annoying. He references buying a piece of art from six months ago but is still being pounded from with banner ads, “and now it’s turned me off.”

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems to change all the time. What are some of the things tire dealers need to know now to make sure they are utilizing it?

SEO is the “art and science of getting you found through the products and services you sell,” said Ross McArthur, director of sales & business development - North America, for Net Driven.

Someone always told him the one constant in this world is change, he said, so it’s just up to you whether you keep up with it or let it pass you by.

“SEO is no different, so it’s going to continue to change,” Ross said.

One aspect that is always going to be important to SEO is content. Ross suggested following the three “U’s” for content: usable, user-friendly and unique.

Additionally, Ross advised building content around your products and services because search engines are ultimately looking to match the end consumer to the product or service desired. If you sell tires, your website should have tire content, etc.

Suggested content includes a fitment guide with tire brands or content detailing manufacturers of the products being offered. For services, write descriptions of what you provide, how long it takes for the services to be completed and why it needs to be done at a certain mileage, etc.

Internet Marketing Panel ITEC
  • What advice do you have for tire dealers who get stuck on what to do with social media?

There are a lot of mechanics to social media, Patrick said. It’s just like how to handle repairs in your own shop — trying to fix a hybrid vehicle is different than repairing a standard vehicle.

“The best option is to really work with an expert who understands what they’re doing,” he said.

It is important to remember that your expertise in the local area and what your competitors are doing is going to be key for your social media presence.

The first thing to do is look at your local listings and make sure your information is correct and consistent on all the different sites, Patrick advised, such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc. For instance, your business is John’s Tire and Auto, make sure it is consistent and not listed anywhere as “John’s Tire & Auto.”

Patrick said if you are unsure how your company appears online, check out, which is a free site that shows how businesses are listed.

  • What should a tire dealership do if its company name is taken on a site?

It can be detrimental and cause problems, Ross said. The first thing to do is try to be proactive so that it does not happen. Claim the company’s name on different sites. If someone does have your name, and they are acting as if they are your business, you can put a claim in as a complaint with the site. It doesn’t guarantee anything will happen, but it will at least notify the site that the problem is occurring.

This is also something that can happen with domain names for websites, not just usernames and handles on social media. Ross explained that Net Driven ran into this problem: The company’s first website was actually The company ended up having to pay $3,000 for It is best to pay for the domain, which can be purchased from for about $10 a year.

Sometimes a company name is taken — not because of foul play, but because there is another company with the same name.

Mark said Sullivan Tire’s YouTube channel is actually “SullyTire” because there is another Sullivan Tire that came in and scooped up the name first.

  • Once you are signed up, how do you grow the pages? What is the investment?

“I would first connect your offline marketing with your online marketing,” Patrick advised.

Focus on one social media strategy at a time and keep it simple, he said. One good starting point is to see what other businesses around you are doing, as well as other tire dealerships that are doing well on social media, and see what campaigns you can incorporate to your sites.

Alpio Barbara, president/owner of Redwood City, Calif.-based Redwood General Tire, said it takes an employee at his shop about 3-5 hours a week to run its social media presence. It is about building your brand name out there and making it personalized.

“I’m not afraid to put my cell phone on there,” he said of his company’s website. “If we have a problem, I want to hear about it; I want to hear about it now.”

Alpio said you can try to do it yourself. Everyone is busy, but try to find time for it. Either come into work early or stay late because being active on social media is important.

“It’s no different than having old magazines in your showroom,” Alpio said. You want to stay fresh. For instance, if you have a sale that ends in September, but you still have stuff up on your social media sites about it in December, it doesn’t do much good. You have to stay fresh and stay on top of it.


Don’t forget to check back to for Part 2 of tips from the ITEC panel experts. Have a comment about this article? Email it to

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