Social Media and the internet itself has been one of the most influential causes for a drastic change in automotive marketing efforts, which all of us marketers (and auto enthusiasts) have noticed in the past 5-7 years. Instead of sending postcards with offers, dealerships are utilizing Google AdWords. Local, niche performance shops are no longer counting on word-of-mouth, they’re jumping on forums. And, large manufacturers like Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and the other big shots are relying on viral video advertisements and, shockingly, updating and designing custom YouTube pages. This is, by all means, marketing of the future.
When I first stepped into the internet marketing field, over 10 years ago, I remember the “next big thing” was to have a website with some sort of dinky advertisements that were provided by banner ad services. The ads were usually corny to the highest degree and ruined a websites appeal. Flash technology was not prominent so advertisements had to be static images or, if anything, an animated GIF. Uncool ads combined with cluttered websites that housed 25+ banners were a big turnoff to users, thus resulting in decreased traffic and site retention. Ultimately, advertisers pulled out.
Once the banner craze was over, and many ad services closed due to abuse of the banners ads, which included falsifying clicks to generate inflated income, banner ads died off for a few years. I knew they would return one day in a retro, uber-cool fashion. And they did.
In the early 2000’s, online message boards, more commonly known as forums, started to really take flight. Even small, niche forums started to receive thousands of new registrants per day, which was shocking. As more web surfers began to understand the importance and helpfulness of forums, more and more forums began opening up shop (or shall I say server). Forums were popping up left and right with content ranging from BMW Performance to Baking/Cooking Forums.
Forum users began to realize that they’re truly involved in a community. Members help each other whenever they can, they will take a shady vendor down with a vengeance, and members will be there for support if anything tragic were to happen in your life.
The more popular forums became, the more advertisers warmed up to banner/ad placements. After all, having over a million unique views a month is nothing to laugh it. Forums started acquiring advertisers (usually referred to as sponsors) very quickly and soon enough many had 30+ onboard.
From a marketing standpoint, having the ability to directly and instantly communicate with potential customers is a godsend. Threads (topics) can be created for events, products can be promoted on the forum, and videos/photos can be shared. Positively participating in a community and providing not only products, but also information, is the ultimate goal.
If a picture says a thousand words, why not use photos more often? Well, we are! Social Media has truly upped the ante and companies are finally following suit.
One of the most popular and effective forms of internet marketing, especially in the past 2-3 years, has been the use of video and photos. Videos are posted on YouTube, Streetfire, as well as other video sites, and are then spread around the net by enthusiasts. I mean, who doesn’t like seeing a 1,100 hp car wheely at the dragstrip? Marketers realize this and are creating all sorts of cool viral videos to bring in business.
Sharing photos on Flickr and other photo websites is becoming just as popular. Groups offer the ability to share photos and adventures pertaining to a particular topic or interest. This is huge! I myself share photos in the green groups, Nikon groups, and many others. It’s fun (I’m a nerd, I know lol).
Though blogging partially falls under the social media category, I usually think of it as a totally different animal. And, now that Fortune 100 companies are using blogs, they’re nothing to downplay.
In the past 4 years I’ve noticed blogging literally go from a weird word that made me cringe to a way of life. I find myself going on adventures to simply achieve an interesting blog post. I love to visit local restaurants, events, and other awesome places, then share my photos.
From a business standpoint, having a blog is critical to online success. As many SEO’ers say, BLOG is short for “Best Loved on Google.” This is true. Blogs rank very well, mostly due to their structure and textual content, and online marketers are now finally seeing this. Yes, it does suck, more competition for me, but oh well. 🙂
If you’re running a business, ask yourself this: why the heck don’t you have a blog by now? Your customers want to really understand your business. They want to see photos and videos of what you do. Jump on the bandwagon and transform your business from being just a name to a transparent, informative, helpful company.
Internet marketing… Gotta love it.
The Brainchild Group
The Brainchild Group is a Los Angeles Interactive Marketing Agency that specializes in internet marketing for the automotive industry including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Blog Marketing, Local Search Marketing, and much more.