Google Places to Google Plus Local for Dealerships

The times they are a changing

Ok so I know that since Google Plus Local launched roughly two weeks ago and unseated Google Places there have been a fair number of Dealerships wondering about the ins and outs of claiming their Google Plus Local Business page.

Like many dealership groups our Google Places for Business account was set up under a dealership controlled gmail account. Also like a fair amount of dealerships my Google Plus business pages were set up under my personal gmail account. Reason being is that I wanted the access to my business pages to be at my finger tips and like most that means being tied into the gmail they have open the most, which is the personal account.

On top of that, when Google Plus pages first launched we couldn’t admin the pages to add additional users or managers. These variables resulted in a some potentially unwanted side effects now that Google Places has become Google Plus Local. Now people ( including myself) are wary on how to claim their Google Plus Local pages. If you make a mistake when it comes to your accounts in Google it can be virtually impossible to undo them if they have an undesirable side effect.

Today I reached out to an acquaintance at the Google offices in Boston that works on the G+ for business team. I asked him if he would be willing to join me in a hangout to help me navigate these unknown waters. I was thrilled when he said he was busy but could join me for a few to answer my questions.

Simple How-to on how to switch from Google Places to Google Plus Local for Dealerships

  •  Log into the gmail that you use to admin your Google Places for Business. If you haven’t yet, upgrade that gmail account to a Google Plus account. It takes two minutes and you can skip all the suggested users stuff.
  • Click Google Plus Local from the ribbon on the left.

Screen of Google Plus Local Ribbon

  • Search for your business name with City or Town added. Click business name,Google Plus Local

This will bring you to your Google Plus Local page.

Google Plus Local Page 1

  • Scroll down your Google Plus Local Page and on the right hand side you will see a section that says Is this your Business? with a Manage this Page button underneath it.Manage your page
  • Click that and it will return you to your Google Places for Business page and you have claimed ownership of your dealerships Google Plus Local page.

Big thanks to Matt and Zack from Google Boston for the assist on this one. I really appreciate it. I hope this how-to for Google Places to Google Plus Local for Dealerships helps you and you dealership make the transitions.

Google Plus Local has a ton to offer dealership and small businesses and if you are not taking the time to optimize and claim your listings now there is a chance you will regret it later. Onward and Upward!

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Effective Social Engagement for Dealerships PT 1

So lately I have been thinking about the value of social media to automotive dealerships. Here at Colonial we have some locations that are active, others less active and a few with virtually no social presence. All with varying levels of effectiveness of execution. I don’t mandate a social presence nor do I provide a road map to success for our teams. Heading into 2012 I would like to change that but where to start?

New media in a world that still values the old media

I have been asked by managers ” what is the value of social media ” and why should they have someone take the time to manage it. They say that automotive press is telling us that this is imperative to have a Facebook page and a twitter account and more. The OEM ‘s conduct training events that cater specifically to the social engagement, site providers are touting it is as feature that puts them on the leading edge. In addition to that there are scores of companies that cold call me and our managers saying that they have software to make it easier to manage our social presence or will even manage it for us.

For the longest time I thumbed my nose at social as it correlates to our business. I would say things like, ” I don’t know if a like will ever lead to a sale. ” or ” twitter is only good for stalking celebrities, athletes and members of the wack-pack. ”

I have been a member of a variety of automotive oriented social sites such as automotivedigitalmarketing.com, drivingsales.com, dealerelite.com, dealerrefresh.com as mostly a lurker by social standard. Rarely was I motivated to ” put myself out there” in those spaces. I valued the information flow and thoughts from industry leaders and peers that did post there but would not post there and rarely if ever engaged.

It wasn’t until Google + that I started to meet people that helped me understand what social is. It is engagement. Even amongst my peers on automotive social sites I was failing to engage, as a result I was left with a lackluster experience and rarely visited. With a better understanding of engagement I have been able to start to understand what makes social an effective experience for both the dealership as well as the people who chose to follow, like, circle us and more.

1. When it comes to social if you give yourself to it, and you are genuine and not constantly pushing a sales agenda it will give back. No one wants to like a dealership page on facebook to only see a constant flow of sales pitches.  From my own adventures on Google + I have learned that you must have a blend of content that you release. From what I have learned and read from others that have been embracing social for much much longer than me, you need to have a 1 to 5 ratio of post content. For every 5 tweets 1 can be have a sales agenda, the other 4 need to be more fluffy in substance. OEM information, community stores, link to a likable viral video that the OEM release, link to informative blog article or model review.

I see some dealerships that tween 5-7 times a day and each and every one is pushing a sales agenda. It is spammy and anyone has been kind enough to follow them will likely think so too.

2. If someone engages you, follows you, likes you, comments on a post or re-shares it, acknowledge it and do so promptly. Just like we aim to provide our clients with a ‘Wow’ experience in the store we want to provide them with one socially. That will promote further interactions and engagements.

That is all for Part 1. Part two will come on Monday!