13 Tips for Achieving Dealership Social-Media Success

LaFontaine auto group shares what it has learned from its mistakes.

Steve Finlay, Senior Editor

September 9, 2015

2 Min Read
Content should engage educate and entertain Stum says
Content should engage, educate and entertain, Stum says.

Mistakes were made, admits Jason Stum, who has spearheaded a social-media initiative for the LaFontaine Automotive Group based in Michigan.

Looking back to the start of it in 2011, “the first mistake we made was that we really didn’t have a plan in place,” he says. “The dealership world is run-and-gun sometimes.” 

Another misstep: giving away iPads to build the dealership group’s social-media presence on Facebook, Twitter and the like. “But once the iPads are gone, the people are gone.”

Since then, LaFontaine, with 22 franchises and 16 stores, has reworked its social-media strategy, leveraging the group’s grassroots reputation that predates the Internet, Stum says.

At this year’s Automotive Social Media Summit in Los Angeles, he offers 13 “rules” for dealership success on social media. “They’re all learned from our mistakes.”

1.  Define your mission. The idea is to engage, educate and entertain. “So the content has to do that.”

2. Build your team. LaFontaine’s original social-media project had three people in 2011. Now it has eight. Seeking to involve other colleagues, “we’re asking the service manager and sales people to help capture customer moments.”

3. Focus on how to be social, not so much on how to do social.

4. Write back if a website visitor posts a comment or review. “You’ve got to let people know you are paying attention. At least say, ‘Thanks.’”

5. Social media is 24/7. That obviously surpasses dealership hours, but it’s important to respond in some way off hours, especially if a consumer posts a complaint. Don’t let sit all night that negative review that came in at 11 p.m. from a guy that’s had a couple of ‘beverages.’ “At least say, ‘Hey, I saw your post. Let’s take care of this in the morning.’”

6. Stay on target. Posting photos of food is fine for a food brand. “But we’re not that.”

7. Be real. “We’re not a brand talking to consumers. We’re a person talking to a person.”

8. Don’t try to be clever. Be clever.

9. Social media is free like a puppy. After taking ownership, “it is going to be an investment in time and resources.”

10. Not everything will work. Some campaigns you think are destined to greatness will instead fall flat.

11. Use traditional advertising to support social media.

12. It is called social media, not “buy stuff.”

13. “If you aren’t consistent, you’re non-existent.”

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