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The Next Step: Define a Social Media Strategy to Grow Your Business

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After writing about the high performance market for the last eight years, I am turning my attention on marketing and business development, with the focus being on providing you with insights and fresh new approaches to expanding your market, grabbing new customers and “selling” products to all of your tire customers.

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For the first quarterly segment, we’re going to jump into the newest – and probably most misunderstood – marketing opportunity of all: Social Media.

Some seven years ago, Myspace.com came on the scene. Its fundamental application was for friends to connect to friends and share whatever was going on in their lives – even the most mundane.

I never understood the attraction of Myspace and when Facebook and Twitter first came along, I didn’t pay much attention, either. To me, the early forms of this new “social media” were like the first years of America Online chat rooms, where people felt they could type anything that came to their little minds because they could hide behind a screen name.  

Fast-forward a few years and things are a lot different. Cell phones are now mobile computers that the younger generations, and a few of us old dogs, use for communications, Web surfing and even tracking down a product or service. Everything is just a few keystrokes away – from anywhere.

Up until six months ago, I would have never considered texting someone. My thinking was, “If I want to say something, I’ll call them.” 

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That philosophy changed as I saw more businesses using social media to attract new customers. New customers? Profit potential? Hey, now I can relate to that. But how does it work? How do I use this technology?

During the 2009 SEMA Show, the SEMA Education Institute held its first Online Marketing Conference. Many guest speakers offered their expertise during a full-day session. How important has social media become to our industry? Several hundred business owners and managers attended that all-day session.

Mike Moran, president of Mike Moran Group LLC, was one of the presenters. Moran is an expert in Internet marketing and search technology. With more than 30 years at IBM, Moran brings a load of technical knowledge to the table.

He has co-authored a book titled “Search Engine Marketing Inc.” and most recently wrote an Internet marketing book titled “Doing It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules.” 

In his latest book, Moran discusses the technological changes that Web 2.0 offers. The way search engines operate and seek out information is far different than even a year ago.

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Today, video and media content are getting higher search rankings, and content on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn and others is now searched and shows up as search results. These are major leaps for consumers looking for information on products, services and people. The best way to get your business’ Web site or Facebook Fan Page found is through keyword optimization.

Despite all of the latest technological advances in online search, Google and all of the others still operate on one core tenant: Keywords. If someone searches on the word “tires,” those Web sites that make prominent use of that word will be ranked highest. Same with terms, like “Tire Review.” Try searching for that term on Google and see what happens.

The key with keyword optimization is to think like your customers. What words or terms are they most likely to use when searching for the products and services you offer? Once you put that list together, make sure to use those words and terms on your site. A lot.

Next on the seminar agenda was Brian Offenberger with After­Mar­keter Club, who said that social networking for business is the next progression of “I need a Web site.”

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Offenberger has been giving seminars on building Web sites and search engine optimization for years. His company co-promoted the Online Marketing Conference, and he has been involved in social media marketing for more than five years, and consults with Google on business and marketing strategy.

I asked Offenberger why Myspace isn’t at the forefront like Facebook and Twitter. “Facebook and Twitter are interactive and searchable. That means that if I want to connect to a group of people who are between certain ages and live in a specific geographic area, I can target my search and filter down to that group who live near my store. At that point, I can become a part of the group by offering tips instead of trying to sell something. I can offer discounts to that specific group or offer rewards to a specific employer.” 

This ability to target your audience is huge – and relatively inexpensive. He cautions about the type of content that should be written to effectively market to groups. “Make sure to provide relevant, active content, and don’t mix a tech tip on nitrogen with a post about how you are glad that the rain has stopped.”
Consistency – and staying on point – is key.

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At the same time, if it’s raining cats and dogs, it would be appropriate to offer a discount on wiper blades to attract potential customers and get an opportunity to see current customers. Same with snowstorms and winter tires.

Defining a Strategy
When it comes to social media, Offenberger suggests you ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” before starting this type of marketing campaign.

Establish who the audience is, what your message is, and what your purpose is, he says. The answers will dictate not only how you approach social media marketing, but also how you tailor your message effectively.

Another presenter was theKbuzz, which has a free download called “Best Practices for Building a Fan Page on Facebook,” and the company manages the social media presence of over 200 brands on Facebook and other sites.

Claudia Titolo, assistant director of small business, echoed many of Offenberger’s Facebook and Twitter points. She went on to give me some deeper insight into how to search on Facebook to find a specific group.

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We went to the Facebook search box and typed in “I love my car.”

The result was several hundred groups consisting of one to several hundred members in each. If you’re a tire dealer who sells tires and wheels online, this could be a gold mine if properly handled.

As I was researching this article, I accidentally typed “I like my car” and the results were astonishingly different and a mere fraction of the results from the first search on “I love my car.”

You need to make sure that your keywords are accurate and will draw the most people to your Fan Page. From here, you want them to go to your Web site for more details about your business and, ultimately, make a purchase.

If you click on the picture associated with a group you would get the name and contact info of the page administrator, whom you could send a message asking permission to join the group. Once invited, you know the drill on how to market based on the previous suggestions.

In addition, theKbuzz offers daily social media insights on its blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter page. It is also offering Tire Review readers a special 15% off its social media services when you call and mention Tire Review as the source of the referral.

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I’ll be taking this group’s advice and creating a Fan Page for my company, WheelWorks Inc. Log on and see if you can find me.

To get started on your own, do a Google search on “How do I create a Facebook Fan Page?” for lots of great tips!


Be sure to check out Tire Review’s Facebook Fan Page and Twitter feed for the latest news, tire event coverage and features on how to improve your business.

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