As I write this article, I am in literally sitting at an Internet Sales 20 Group where my colleagues and I are sharing best practices with over 50 dealers. It seems that auto dealers are concerned more about their online reputation now than ever before. While it is great to see dealers place a focus on it there still needs to be a structure in place that will create a strong reputation for the dealership. Once a structure is in place, managing an online reputation is actually a very simple process.
The big issue that dealers are having is that they are losing their Yelp review visibility. They have been focusing so much on Yelp those they had a lot of reviews get posted and then taken down. This is a similar problem to have been going on with Google. Let me explain the problem. We all know that our industry has been labeled in negative ways by consumers for many years now. Well, just like the consumer put a label on us, the review sites have done something similar by being cautious with what gets put out there. When dealers are getting a lot of reviews coming in within a short period of time, sites like Google and Yelp get weary of the situation and question the validity of the reviews.
Yelp has been archiving reviews and showing very few. It has been really upsetting dealers and I have heard this numerous times in the last two days. I am here to tell you that there is nothing to stress over. There are many schools of thought of how to manage the dealership’s online reputation. I believe that dealerships need to diversify their reputation. What do I mean about “diversify”? Just like when you’re building a financial portfolio to manage investments of stocks, equity, money markets, and your bank account. You need to have a strategy for managing reviews. While Yelp and Google are great; they are only a few key players. Take a look at Edmunds.com, Yahoo local, Cars.com, AutoTrader, DealerRater (it still works), Edmunds.com, City Search, and Merchant Circle just for starters.
It sounds like a lot of sites to be on but hear me out. Create a strategy where every week or two the dealership focuses on having reviews posted on a different site. For example, week 1 reviews are to be put on Google, week 2 we focus on DealerRater, week 3 we focus on Yelp, week 4 is for Yelp, and so on. Now that you diversified your reviews take it one step further, create numerous blogs using platforms like Posterous, Tumblr, WordPress, and Google’s BlogSpot. Once they are created, you can tie them in with facebook and twitter. Now you can copy over the reviews into the blog format and repost them. These build a huge buzz online while spreading your content all over the internet and improving your search engine rankings. Take it even one more step further be developing a strategy to get live video testimonials from customers who buy and services vehicles at the dealership. That strategy is simple and will go a very long way. These videos should also be syndicated on blogs after posting them on Youtube and other major video sharing sites.