Published on Friday, 19 August 2011
The results showed that just 3 per cent of car buyers indicated that social media influenced their buying decision.
I found this figure interesting, given the current hype surrounding social media.
Another company mentioned in the article, Dataium, monitors auto-shopping habits online. A Dataium survey revealed that out of 1.5 million auto shoppers they followed online, only 9,400 clicked on a dealer website from a social media site. Only six of those shoppers requested a follow-up with the dealer.
The article reported that some dealers have spent considerable sums developing a presence on Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites. But their return on investment has been minimal.
I understand the importance of social media in communicating with customers and prospects. A Facebook fan page can provide an excellent forum for dealership staff and customers to discuss new products and services.
A YouTube channel can be used to promote new and pre-owned vehicles. Some dealers have been very creative with YouTube, posting weekly videos of their inventory.
Even Twitter has its usefulness. Staff members can send quick messages about product announcements, time-sensitive offers and special events to their followers.
Indeed, multiple communication channels make for a more engaging experience between dealers and their customers.
But with all this hype surrounding social media, I can’t help wondering what’s being lost in the process.
Ironically, as digital communication flourishes through social media and mobile technologies, personal relationships are suffering. In many instances, personal relationships have become less important than online “friends” or “followers.”
Even landline telephones and email are becoming obsolete now, as more consumers prefer to communicate via social media.
Many car buyers show up to buy a car today, armed with the latest data about current makes and models, financing options and consumer reports, looking for one thing and one thing only: the lowest price.
Price is a critical part of buying a car. But when you shop only for price, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to establish a relationship with a dealership — especially with a salesperson, who will help you process the information so that you make informed decisions.
If your vehicle breaks down, would you feel more confident contacting a dealership that you know, or sending a Facebook message in the hope that someone responds?
Some marketing experts maintain that small businesses that don’t participate in social media are doomed.
I know many dealers — especially in rural areas — who have resisted the urge to create fancy websites or develop a presence on social media sites either because their customers haven’t requested it, or because the majority of their customers aren’t heavy computer users.
These dealerships continue to do steady business the old-fashioned way: by telephone, face-to-face contact, networking, and getting to know their customers within the community.
Today, too many customers seem rushed and want to get a deal done as quickly as possible.
I get that, but I do remember a day (not too long ago), when customers would drop by and say hello.
They weren’t necessarily interested in buying anything; they just wanted to chat. Those days are gone. Relationships are the glue that keeps dealerships and customers together.
Those relationships can be enhanced through social media and mobile technologies, but they can’t replace face-to-face contact.