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Handy Social Media Guide

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BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

By now, we should be well past the things I heard as recently as two years ago: BodyShop Business“Social media is just a fad,” “No one will follow a body shop on Facebook,” and “I don’t care what you had for dinner, and I’m sure you don’t care where my wife and I went for the weekend either.” These were the kinds of things people would say to me without a full understanding of the transformational change social media was having on society and the fundamental shift in the way we communicate with each other. If you still feel that way, then the social media tidal wave has likely washed over you and you don’t even realize it.

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Washed Away
Washed away by this social media tidal wave are opportunities for brand exposure, to engage people in meaningful, fun conversations (not about your dinner or their dinner or anything like that) and most importantly to fix cars. If you’re an independent and have been keeping a wary eye on the consolidators in the industry or are actively competing with them, you need to know that they all have good websites and are participating effectively with social media. Why? Because the frontier of social media has been fully discovered and is now being developed. And profits follow.

The Profitable Ones

I always like to look at what the big, well-established, profitable companies are doing. They always have done their research and aren’t burdened by the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. They hire people to keep them on the cutting edge. Consider Ford, for example. They were the only domestic auto manufacturer that didn’t take a federal bailout during the recession, and still they remained profitable throughout. Ford credits social media for a large portion of their success and spends a ton of money on it.

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That’s good enough for me. How about you? You may not have the time to do the research or have the resources to hire someone to keep you on that cutting edge, but you can certainly learn from others. Social media is a part of every major business you come across. And if it isn’t already a part of yours, it needs to be.

If you’re doing social media, are you doing it effectively? Are your accounts set up correctly? Are you posting often enough? Are you posting content that’s graphic and engaging to your target market area?

The guide below has details on each of the main social media platforms that you should find helpful. Cut this out or print the online version and keep it handy for future reference. But keep in mind that these things change frequently. To see the latest, most up-to-date information at any given time, visit: http://www.optimaautomotive.com/social-media/.

So which ones should you participate in? Must you participate in them all? No. I recommend Google+, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for your business and LinkedIn for you personally. Do these well and the dividends will come back to you over time.  Optima will be doing a series of free online workshops on social media during the month of October, so check out www.optimaautomotive.com for more details.


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