The Social Media and Business Relationship

June 30 was the inaugural Social Media Day. Wichita tweeps started the celebration early as we began the morning at one of our favorite spots, Mead’s Corner, to listen to our guest speaker, Tom White Jr.. Tom is the general manager of Suzuki of Wichita and although on the surface social media and car sales seem an unlikely pair, he is proving that they can be quite complementary. When Tom joined the dealership in 2007, they were averaging three sales a month. Now, they average 103 sales a year. Needless to say, this feat was impressive considering that his team sold cars from a triple-wide. So how did he drive sales in?

Tom capitalized on the one thing that he knew people turned to when buying a car, the Internet. An average of ninety percent of people research cars before even thinking about buying their next vehicle (White, Jr.).  Most people view car salesman as sleazy, deceptive and downright annoying. Tom wanted to change people’s perception of the car buying process, so he gave his team Flip cameras. This allowed their personalities to show through, making the process less scary for everyone involve.

Tom realized early on that “Google was everything” and built his business accordingly.  His team created a YouTube channel, have Twitter and Facebook presence, and have multiple blogs, including one for their salesmen. His dealership is now the number one Suzuki dealership is the U.S. He credits this mostly to social media and the word-of-mouth vibe that it creates.

One of the biggest problems any business faces on social media, is the instant negative feedback that could produce a potential threat to the company. Tom acknowledges that even his business faces this problem and concedes that nobody is perfect and they can’t/won’t make everyone happy all the time. But he doesn’t view negative comments as a bad thing, necessarily. He thinks concerns posted on his site are there for a reason and noted that it often looks suspicious if a website doesn’t have any. It’s how you address the negative comments that counts. As long as the company does everything it can do, then there is no need to be ashamed of negative issues that arise.

Tom and his company know how to do social media and know how to do it well, but he proves that you also have to back up your message “in real life” to be considered a success.

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