Location, Location, Location: Social Media for Auto Dealerships, Part 1
A positive reputation is crucial for any small business. And in an age where 87% of consumers research their car purchases online, it’s becoming even more important for auto dealerships to maintain a solid online reputation as well.
Managing your dealership’s online presence may seem overwhelming. As new channels and technology get more complex, it’s hard to know where to start — especially when many dealerships built their identity over decades through word-of-mouth, community engagement and the well-recognized brands covering their sales lots.
In this series, we’ll present 3 basic strategies that can jump-start a social media presence. This post covers the first foundational step: finding and claiming your dealership’s online listing on search engine and consumer review sites.
Finding Your Business Location Pages
Start by opening up a few search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, Yahoo) and searching the name of your dealership. You might be surprised at the number of results — usually in the thousands. Every link is a place for potential customers to encounter your brand, and you’ll want to control (or at least be aware of) the information that appears there.
Once you’ve found and opened all of your dealership’s profile pages (also sometimes called Business Listings or Location Pages) on Google, Yelp, Facebook and any other sites you could see your customers visiting, you’re ready to claim the pages and take control of the content.
Claiming Your Business Location Pages
Claiming your business location pages on Google, Yelp and Facebook is the crucial next step in controlling your online presence. People WILL talk about your dealership on these platforms regardless of whether or not you create an official presence, and the only way to manage the conversation is if you’re there to join in.
Claim your business on Google
Even if you’ve never set up a Google page for your dealership, your dealership will likely still appear as a map location in Google search results. That’s great! But if you haven’t already claimed your Business Listing on Google, anyone could be supplying the information that appears there. Everything from the phone number to address to hours of operation could be incorrect, leading to headaches for both your customers and employees.
To claim your dealership’s Business Listing, simply search your dealer name on Google in a desktop browser. If your dealership appears in the panel on the right, then click the link, “Claim this business” on the listing and follow the instructions. If your dealership doesn’t appear in a business listing on the right panel, Google provides instructions for creating a Google page. You’ll get the opportunity to enter a preferred phone number (usually the sales desk works best), confirm your address, and add details such as description, business hours, and photos.
The final step is to confirm your identity, and the options for doing so can include receiving an automated phone call, showing a utility bill with the business name, or receiving a postcard in the mail. Once your location and ownership is confirmed, you’ll have the opportunity to respond to consumer reviews, which will be explored in Part 2 of this blog series.
Claim your business on Facebook
Claiming your Facebook Location Page is a similar process, but there’s one extra step. Just like with Google, you’ll want to search and see if an unofficial Facebook page exists for your dealership. The difference is that there could be multiple Location Pages — even if you already have an active page. That’s because each time someone “checks in” at your dealership on Facebook, they can create their own page (usually by accident) for your location.
Fortunately, once you’ve found all instances for your dealership, you can merge all of the Location Pages into one unified official page. To get started, click “Is this your business?” on the page that most resembles what you want the official page to look like. Just like with Google, you’ll have to provide some proof that you have a right to manage the page, so be prepared to receive a phone call or provide some documentation.
Even if you already have a Facebook page, there’s a good change that unofficial pages exist. Taking the time to merge all the pages into one makes your dealer look more professional and gives you the opportunity to manage all the content that appears on Facebook about your dealer.
Claim your business on Yelp
Chances are, your dealer has a Yelp business location page already – and people have probably left reviews. The process of claiming your page on Yelp is pretty simple if that’s the case. Just search for your page on Yelp and click “Claim This Business” and follow their instructions. The process is very similar to Facebook and Google. If you can’t find your dealer through a search, scroll to the bottom of the search page and click, “Add My Business.”
Be prepared for the same phone call or business documentation as Facebook and Google. If you have to create an entirely new business page, it may take a few days before you are provided access to manage the page — but once you’re the owner, you’ll be able to add photos, respond to reviews, and promote the page to get more positive reviews.