In 2012, there's a person you need to hire if you haven't already. Every dealership or dealer group that wants to succeed MUST hire a Digital Manager. I go into more details about what a digital manager does in a blog post on Techi, but here I want to shed some light on the differences between an internet manager/BDC manager and a true digital manager.
First, digital managers are more than just the person sitting on Twitter and Facebook all day. They should be using these as tools, certainly, but that should be only a small part of it. If your dealership has a full time social media person, that's great, but that's not the end of it. You need more.
You need content. Real content. You need pages added to your site constantly that are created by real people. Automated "SEO pages" are junk thanks to Google Panda (and I would happily debate that point with any vendor pushing the "more pages is better for SEO" rhetoric that simply doesn't work anymore). You need real pages. You need unique content. You need engaging content such as videos and infographics tied into compelling text and images.
You need a pro-active presence. If your focus is on building a strong Facebook page, you're completely missing the boat. It's not what happens on your page that matters nearly as much as what happens on other people's pages and profiles when they're talking about you. Are people talking to you and about your dealership in a positive manner multiple times a day? Are 50% of the people driving off the lot with a new car posting a picture of themselves on their Facebook pages and Twitter profiles? Is your dealership involved in some way with local discussions, other pages/profiles, and every publication that has a voice in your area?
Your internet manager and his/her team should be contacting all of the inbound leads. Your BDC should be contacting old customers. It's the digital manager and his/her team that should be contacting everyone else. They are the voice of the dealership. They are sending emails, texts, direct messages on social media, and every other new method of communication that's popping up, and they should be doing this daily.
Are you in complete control over your search engine presence or are you leaving it completely to your vendor. If you are leaving it to your vendor, are they reporting to you adequately, talking to you when the need arises and empowering you to contribute if you want (or to sit back and let them handle it of you don't)?
The subject of hiring a digital manager is so important and a single blog post cannot do it justice. If you have any questions or would like to learn more (keeping in mind, this is all about education and help - I'm not selling a "digital manager in a box" product or anything) about the most important move you'll want to make that will have the most dramatic impact on your business in 2012, please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I'm here to help.