Follow-Up Sales Systems (FUSS), a longtime service provider for dealers, has a new program in which it manages its clients’ social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
If you’re not familiar with the Arkansas City, Kan.-based company, that’s partly by design. FUSS takes pride in staying in the background while it helps about a thousand dealers follow up with their customers via personalized greeting cards, letters, coupons, surveys, and so on. The company can even send bags of cookies to customers. A husband-and-wife team founded FUSS back in 1979.
So why has the company taken on social media? Because in many ways it’s the digital version of personalized follow-up, says Mike Beauchamp, FUSS’ director of digital media. “They’re complementary services,” he says. “They’re both retention marketing and helping dealers get out there and generate repeat business.”
Just as websites became mandatory a few years ago, dealers of all sizes now must partake in social media, Beauchamp contends. “It’s good for transparency. It’s good for confidence: ‘Hey, I’m putting myself out here as a business. I have nothing to hide.’ Customers are expecting that more and more because of the big names who have already embraced social media. Every one of the major OEMs uses it.”
The bulk of the FUSS Social Media Marketing and Management program is the daily maintenance of a dealers’ Facebook fan page, Twitter account, YouTube channel and Flickr account. “It’s really just the nitty-gritty, the nuts and bolts that any dealer should be able to do on their own theoretically but don’t have the time, the patience or, for some of them, the know-how,” Beauchamp says.
The program is a monthly subscription service starting at $99. Four price plans offer different levels of service. Contact Beauchamp for a pricing sheet that clearly explains what each level provides. Dealers do not sign a long-term contract, and they can switch plans throughout the year, using a cheaper plan during the off-season. “The reason for that is twofold,” Beauchamp says. “No. 1, they have less money coming in to support the plan, but No. 2, they’ve got more time on their hands to take a more active role.”
To help FUSS write the Tweets and Facebook postings, dealers fill out a weekly form asking about the store’s current events and promotions. “There are weeks where they don’t send me anything, and I pull from what they sent previously,” Beauchamp explains. “You can take content and spread it out over a pretty good amount of time.”
FUSS also has a large library of general content. “We pull in, from other sites and other sources, content that other people have created that may having nothing to do with the store specifically but everything to do with customer interests and the overall industry,” Beauchamp says. “So our strategy is to mix the two: personalized store-specific content and the broader spectrum.”
FUSS can customize a dealer’s Facebook fan page so that instead of Wall comments or the store’s info, visitors arrive first to an event flier, an OEM promotional image, or even a YouTube video. FUSS doesn’t alter the page’s basic format (the graphics and buttons on the left column), so the functionality is the same. “We’re not changing the way the page works,” Beauchamp says. “We’re just changing what you see first.”
FUSS is now testing an option in which dealers with a PSN-hosted website will be able to have their in-stock inventory automatically load onto their Facebook fan page.
FUSS also can customize a dealer’s Twitter page so that its background mimics the look and feel of the store’s website. Beauchamp says this “builds synonymous branding across all the sites, which studies have found customers respond to better.”
Similarly, FUSS ensures that a dealer’s social media accounts are integrated into its main website.
For dealers wanting to be on the cutting edge of technology, FUSS will create and maintain their presence on Google Places, Facebook Places and Foursquare. These location-based services allow people to “check in” to dealerships using their GPS-enabled smartphones and a downloaded app. In this way, people can prove to dealers that they’ve stopped by, perhaps qualifying them for a discount or some other perk. These services also allow people to inform their friends of their whereabouts — and, more important, invite them to a special sale or event.
Google Places also lets customers post comments about the dealership during every check-in. Most dealers are familiar with other review sites such as Yelp, and know the trouble they can cause when an unhappy customer uses them to vent. To combat this, FUSS’ higher-level plans include a service in which the company monitors the Internet for conversations about the dealership, good and bad, and reports them.
Beauchamp notes that only the dealers themselves can respond to complaints. He also points out that FUSS can’t help dealerships that truly stink. “Social media can’t fix you if you do bad business,” he says. “But it does help you find out if there’s been a miscommunication or a one-off instance. And you can pick up the phone and take care of it.”
There’s also the reverse situation. “If somebody posted a great review about you,” Beauchamp says, “you want to pick up the phone and say thanks, or make sure you mention it the next time they come in the store. Or you can send them a thank-you card or use our cookies program.”
Another warning from Beauchamp about social media: “You can set up a page, but if you don’t drive traffic to it, it serves no purpose.” FUSS works with dealers to make sure social media is part of their e-mail campaigns, their websites and their traditional advertising. As an example, Beauchamp cites a dealership that was about to host an open house and needed decorations. FUSS produced a print flier that promoted the store’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. The flier also recommended a smartphone app that indicates the cheapest gas stations in a given area. Then at the flier’s bottom it said, “For more helpful tips this riding season, ‘like’ Shelby’s Powersports on Facebook.”
This mixing of the traditional with the digital is epitomized in yet another FUSS offering: QR codes, black squares containing white patterns much like bar codes. People scan the codes with their smartphones to access a specific URL. Best Buy, for example, uses the codes on the labels of many of its products so customers can research products while in the store. Naturally, the codes lead to Best Buy’s own website.
The QR code aspect of the FUSS program is simple. Dealers send a list of showroom units they’d like to promote. FUSS creates for each vehicle a code that will take a smartphone user to the page on the dealer’s website promoting that vehicle. The code will also give the user the option of sharing the link through his or her Facebook account. FUSS prints out stickers with the codes and mails them to the dealer, who adds the stickers to the vehicles’ hangtags. Each sticker says “Share on Facebook” and sports the Facebook logo. “The idea,” Beauchamp explains, “is I come into the store and maybe I’m torn between a CBR1000 in black and a ZX-10R in green. So I can scan each of those codes on their respective bike, share that to my personal Facebook page, and ask for my friends and family to give me input. And it links back to the dealer’s site to generate traffic.”
Beauchamp says the codes often make it easier for showroom customers to do what they were doing anyway. “People are standing there taking pictures with their smartphones and trying to text-message those pictures out to five different people,” he says. “This is just a seamless way to do that.”
Social media is here to stay
At this point, old-timers may be shaking their heads in disbelief. Again, the FUSS program is modularized to allow clients to participate at whatever level they’re comfortable. The crucial thing, Beauchamp says, is that dealers realize that social media deserves respect. It’s not, as some dealers believe, something that should be entrusted to the teenager who works part-time answering the phone. Sure, the kid can post photos and an occasional Tweet. “For that purpose, absolutely,” Beauchamp says, “but for an ongoing campaign that you actually want to invest in and get results out of, you want to be able to track and monitor that success or failure.”
It’s the store’s marketing manager who should oversee social media and, in FUSS’s case, be the main contact. “I appreciate it when that’s my contact because they’re obviously in tune with their other marketing efforts,” Beauchamp says. “It is also important for the rest of the dealership to be mindful of the store’s social media presence and be able to speak openly with customers about it.”
For more information, on FUSS’ Social Media Marketing and Management program, call 800-222-3877, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of the program, Beauchamp hosts two educational webinars per month. He says he’d be happy to give interested dealers access as well.