The Importance of Social Media to IDS Astra Software Users

By Jenn Varela – IDS Contributor

Let’s face it, there’s an awful lot of information out there about social media.  As an RV or Marine dealer, who’s already invested the time and resources in your IDS dealer management software and your website, should you also invest your time in social media or shouldn’t you?  Should you hire someone to manage it, have an existing employee handle it, or try and deal with it yourself?  Where do you even begin?

When most people hear the words “social media” the immediate thought goes to Facebook … you know, that little blue square with the white… where our friends post pictures of their kids or what they’re having for dinner.  Or maybe your thoughts go to that irritating used car salesman on TV that’s always shouting “FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK!” Either way, it seems you just can’t get away from it.  The fact is Facebook has roughly 901 million users and according to Mashable it’s likely that Facebook will pass the one billion mark by the end of 2012.

So, what does that mean for you in your RV or Marine dealership?

On any given day, those same users are signing in and getting information delivered right to them on their newsfeed.   With businesses creating Facebook pages, users can choose to go to the business page and subscribe or “Like” the page in order to get updates in their personal newsfeed.  That means they don’t have to remember to visit your RV or Marine website if they see your commercial or a sale ad.  Chances are they might forget, but if you’re sending out regular posts from your Facebook page, you’re sending out reminders to your RV or Marine community each day.  You are staying in their stream of consciousness and it serves as a reminder that your RV or Marine products can meet their needs.

Facebook is not the only social media platform.

Although currently it is the most popular with businesses, there are plenty of others to choose from, such as Twitter and Google+.  Later I’ll discuss what each platform offers and the pros and cons.  Investing time in social media can also create a designated area for your Marine and RV customers to come together and form an online community because they all share a common interest.  Either they’ve purchased from you, are thinking of purchasing from you, or are interested in the product you offer.  When you provide a designated place for people to come and engage or get the latest news, they remember that.  These people are already on the social media platform you’ve chosen, so they haven’t even had to leave their comfort zone to participate in the message on your website.

Think of a social media page as an extension of your Marine or RV website.  These platforms give the chance to promote sales, new products, get opinions, ask questions, and the best part – it’s FREE!  You can run ads for a price to gain more exposure if you’d like, but your customers are coming to your social media page wanting updates and news about your business and you’re able to take advantage of this digital marketing for free.

Let’s also not forget that customers do a lot of research online and they often will look for a business on one of the social media platforms. They look for reviews by other customers. How well does the product hold up, how many complaints does the company have and how do they handle complaints?  Does the company handle their customers with care or do they treat them like a number?  Imagine the word of mouth advertising your dealership will get with social media!

Think of social media as a large RV or Marine show.  Your customers are there shopping, you should be there and guess what?  If your customers are there, so is your competition. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a sale to your biggest competitor just because they showed up at the largest RV/Marine show and you didn’t, right?

You may be thinking “wait, I’ve put all this time and effort into a great website, where does that come into play?” With social media you can link to your website.  Google and the other search engines count social media pages and social media sharing in their ranking algorithms.  This means that when someone is searching for a particular item you offer, the chances of your website showing up are better when you take advantage of social media.

Let’s face it, social media can be fun.  It gives you a chance to get to know your customers on a more personal level and it gives your customers a chance to get to know your business.  Studies have shown that customers really do enjoy getting to know the employees and owners of companies.  Not only does it give the customer a sense of V.I.P. treatment, but the customer feels more valued and your company is more trusted.  You provide an openness that customers will not only come to appreciate and respect, but you gain friendships as well.

In upcoming articles we’ll discuss who should set up and run your social media pages and which social media platform is best for you.  Until then, stay social!

Jenn Varela is a Social Media Coordinator and blog contributor who has been involved with the RV and Marine industry for the last 12 years. Working for companies, such as Integrated Dealer Solutions (IDS) and Signify Marketing, allows her to develop and implement effective Social Media campaigns for a variety of different businesses within the industry.  While at IDS, she worked hand in hand with dealers teaching them how to effectively use technology to increase productivity and profitability.

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