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Thursday, February 13, 2014

To Whoever is Calling this "Social" Media, Please Stop. You're Embarrassing Us All

To Whoever is Calling this "Social" Media, Please Stop. You're Embarrassing Us All!

I'd like to make a fairly simple observation about social media managed service providers... As basic as it may sound, what you receive as a dealer is going to be compromised and diluted if the supplier keeps signing up more dealers without hiring proportionately more resources.

I set up an "unauthorized" team of people starting in 2008 to provide social media marketing services for a handful of dealers... These were dealers who would have cancelled their digital advertising, but didn't when i offered to do social media marketing if they kept their advertising business with us. It started as a completely underground, after hours type of service for a handful of dealers, because the company we worked on had strict anti-social media policies...

We bootlegged in a thick pipe while filling out requisitions that it was for the meeting room and the TV and game console in their. We hooked up routers and everyone brought in personal computers from home so we would not be using company property to commit the crime of posting social media content and visiting forbidden sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger and the absolutely forbidden use of an (God forbid!) open source website CMS tool (Wordpress). We billed dealers using the SEO product codes that I had killed off when I first got there in 2007 because I always believed basic SEO services should be built into the dealer website product pricing...
 
By late 2009, Tom DiSanto, Tony Guarnaccia and myself had to "come out of the closet" and admit we were delivering social media marketing services to dealers using hijacked catalog codes and bootleg equipment... Instead of getting fired, we were fully funded to create a new team and we even were able to get genuine ADP ordering codes for our "SmRm" products and services.  The team we built believed in the value of what we were doing and when others had left the office shortly after 5:00 PM, Tom DiSanto and I were there many nights till midnight.

What happened after that is history, the ASU/ADP deal at SkySong Center, 640+ dealers signed up between NADA 2010 and June 30, 2010... at an average monthly recurring revenue point of over $4,000/month, we were able to get authorized to hire enough social media marketers that each was managing no more than ten dealerships.  The people at ADP that do "Time/Labor" studies are among the best in the world at that sort of thing... Our HR department insisted that because of the work load our social media marketing dealer service bundle entailed, we were required to hire another resource for EVERY TEN DEALERS we took on as clients! And, that my friends is the long winded point I wanted to make...
 
When a service provider signs up hundreds of dealers and does not hire equivalent numbers of social media marketers to deliver the services, that is when you get so many of the repetitious, overly automated crapola being passed off as a service to dealers.
It is like one of Newton's Laws of Physics... If a company has one resource managing 25 dealer accounts and they establish a service level that is generally met with acceptance... What happens when they won't, don't, cannot or forget to hire more resources and the dealer count per social media marketer goes from 25 to 50 dealers? The quality and value of what they have been selling drops to less than half of what it was during the early days...You cannot defy gravity, double the number of dealers each of your people are servicing and the quality/value characteristics of what the dealer is receiving are cut in half (with some rare exceptions for increased productivity).
 
There is one of the bigger social media service providers that has grown from 100 dealers to 5,000 dealers and their workforce of SoMars has tripled in size... What happens to the Quality/Value formula output that the dealer gets for the same amount of money? It goes down to about 13% of what the early adopter dealers received.
 
I sit in on a lot of supplier presentations to my dealer clients... Earlier today I was listening to a local company pitch social media marketing services to a dealership in New Mexico. The company was very reputable, but for all the buzz words and "Results Driven" strategy statements the sales rep kept making, I could not get her to list what the employees of her company do on a daily basis for the dealers they serve in delivering social media marketing... She says she will email me a follow-up with a manifest of actual tasks descriptions being executed daily that the dealer gets for the $3,000 a month she was asking... Sheesh!
  
For those of you working in a decision making capacity in dealerships, don't pay attention to the grandiose statements around reach, frequency, paid media equivalents and "consumer driven engagement" that social media service provider sales reps like to throw at you like snow at the edge of the Mall of America's parking lot... All those statements are designed to drive an emotional decision, instead of rational analysis... Try asking for specific details of what will be done each day, week, month, etc. Try asking how many dealers your account manager will be taking care of in addition to yours. Get the facts of what resources will be assigned to your dealership, and a manifest of exactly what services are being done without the dealer having to ask for them... in writing!