With over 240 million users and 500 million tweets sent per day, Twitter is as ubiquitous as it gets in terms of social media. With all that use comes a variety of opportunities as well as opinions about what to do and what not to do. There’s nothing static about best practices on social networks and Twitter is no different.

Of course some things stay the same. In 2009 a study was done of Twitter content and 40% was deemed “pointless babble“. I suspect many Twitter users would agree that a certain portion of today’s tweets fall in that same category. This got me thinking about what it is that annoys people about Twitter? If we discover the things people don’t like, perhaps the opposite or removal of those behaviors can point us in the right direction.twitter-bird

I think it goes without saying in automotive that social media is certainly a growing part of the internet, and is something that every dealer needs to be aware of, even if at this moment their not quite ready to embrace it. The fact is social media creates an opportunity to connect with your customers like none other. A great many people who are visiting websites based on the recommendations of their peers, buying or avoiding internet sellers and brick and mortar stores based on what their peers are saying, and being told what to think by people like them, rather than big media. However, there is so much more to social media than just a source of new visitors to your dealership. Social media is also an opportunity to keep the people who have already bought from you to come back. By levering social media dealers can turn more of their one-time customers into repeat buyers. And don’t forget the “just looking” crowd. Get them to follow you and just maybe they’ll come back to the store when they’re more serious about purchasing, ultimately creating a customer for life.

Social media certainly has its benefits but the real question that comes up so often from dealers is what is the rule of thumb or best practice that my team should keep in mind and execute when using social sites like Twitter? So I’ve decided to compile a list of what to do and what not to do based off my research and experience working with dealers that execute a superb digital strategy.

The first thing to remember to do is be honest. There is nothing more important to consumers than honesty. A car is a big purchase and they don’t want to be duped.Don’t use deceptive practices. Don’t use Twitter or any social media platform for any unethical practices. The next big thing is to listen to your customers. Don’t think of Twitter as a way to spread your word. Think of it as a way to hear what your customers are thinking. What they want and how they want it. Then you provide it for them. Successful Twitter practices should also include a strategy to connect with existing customers and finding new ones. Don’t spam. Post information links and questions. Network by engaging both existing and potential customers in conversation. Ask interesting questions and you will get back interesting answers.

Now the big Twitter no no that some dealerships fall into is tweeting about their inventory. When a dealer can’t think of something to say to their community they go to the backup plan and that’s to tweet information on one of their cars. Don’t do this. Instead, a better strategy for tweeting inventory is to create a specific Twitter account for your brand that focuses strictly on inventory deals and specials. Followers of that account will not feel spammed because they’re following you

and your inventory by choice. Another Twitter tip is to only comment on trending topics if you have something to say about the topic. People sometimes use the hastag (#) with a trending topic to advertise a product totally unrelated to them or send out a tweet with all of the trending topics in it. They hope they will get noticed and maybe someone will click on their account. It looks desperate. Everyone who is on your Twitter account will notice this and it doesn’t look good for your dealers.

Some of the information I provided is perfect for dealerships and some of it isn’t. There still are other variables to consider especially if you don’t have the right team in place to execute an effective social strategy. Dealers must be able to determine which avenue is best for their business. The bottom-line is that social media works and when you figure that out, embrace it. If you’re still a little skeptical about social media you need to remember one important thing: you’re competitors aren’t. Does your dealership want to be left behind?

– Christopher L. Robinson