About 10 years ago, social media was becoming very popular and businesses started using it as a new marketing tool. In 2009, the owner of the recording studio where I was employed at the time attended a seminar about how social media could forever change the way business is done. We were sold. We immediately started brainstorming, creating, and integrating social media into our business culture. I loved showcasing the unique personalities in the music world through social media. When the economy took down the studio, I landed in the car business, working for another forward-thinking woman who had decided she wanted to be ahead of the game when it came to social media.

The Trends and Their Times
Looking back after being in the industry for so many years, I’ve seen many trends come and go. Back in the day, posting your YouTube link to Facebook was an excellent way to get people engaged and gain more exposure over multiple platforms. Then there was the “100,000-Likes” trend. People were pushing this everywhere. The only issue with this approach is quantity over quality: It really isn’t the number of Likes that a page or a post receives, but rather the quality of the people that are clicking the “Like” button. When we were pushed to follow the “get a 100,000 Likes” trend at my small, local dealership in a town of only 70,000 people or so, I suggested that it wasn’t useful to our business. It’s useless to market and try to reach outside our target geographic area because people won’t travel that far to buy a car when there are a dozen other places that are closer. That’s wasting both time and money, neither of which is good for business. I’m thankful the owner of the dealership believed in me, because it definitely wasn’t the popular belief at the time.

After the “100,000-Like” trend, the “you must advertise on Yelp” trend was up next. Remember Yelp? I’m not opposed to Yelp like I was to the lots-of-Likes thing. I’m a fan of taking advantage of the marketing and advertising opportunities that best position you for success; Yelp just wasn’t one of those for us.

The next big trend that we saw, and it’s still pretty prevalent today, was the “Facebook giveaway.” It’s a great way to promote local business by giving away free samples and having free giveaway contests. This is one of those marketing strategies that some people don’t like, which is understandable because it can be seen as junk clogging up their timelines. The negative result of this type of marketing is that it attracts people who only want the free stuff. They don’t care about the actual brand. The good thing is that those people don’t generally stick around. They go away, for the most part, after the opportunity to win something for free is gone. It’s still a very good way to promote businesss, get attention, engage consumers, get people to share your content and brand, and gain followers. For one promotion we did using the “Facebook giveaway,” 17,406 people were reached and 132 local people ended up engaging with our dealership. Even though a considerable number didn’t engage or dropped away during the campaign, there were still 132 people that we connected with that we wouldn’t have otherwise, so I considered that a win.

Trends Change; Personal Connections Are Timeless
There have been a million social media platforms, gaming trends, and rules for how you “must” do social. They’re always changing. The important thing is to know your brand, know your dealership, and highlight the heart of what you do. No matter how many trends come and go, these factors will stay true to what they are. You can’t make everyone happy; you can’t make everyone LIKE you, and you definitely can’t make everyone buy from you. But what you can do, and what you should always strive to do, is be valuable to your community. There’s no gimmick, no magic formula, and no outside force that can embody what your business stands or falls for. The core of who you are and what your business is about will always show through in the end. No matter how many trends or changes come and go – Yelp, Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, 100,000 Likes – they all mean nothing if you can’t connect with your customers.