Social Media is Taking Off for Automotive Dealers

Social Media is Taking Off for Automotive Dealers

Social media is interwoven into our everyday lives and the opportunities for the automotive industry are bigger than ever.  In 2015, many in the automotive industry viewed social marketing with mixed reviews. It was something you had to do but the question was always there: “Does this bring any real value?” With the advancement of faster and better technologies, new ways to mine for social purchase intent, and more options for personalization that can lead to conversion, now is the time for dealerships to build a strong competency in social media marketing.

Digital Air strike recently released some compelling findings on the importance of social marketing for the auto industry. According to the new study, Automotive Social Media Trends, top trends include:

  • 75% of car buyers and 68% of service customers say internet research, including social media and review sites, was the most helpful medium when selecting a car dealership—surpassing all other mediums including dealership websites which ranked highest with only 16% of car buyers (down from 19 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 2013).
  • This is the third consecutive study where car buyers have ranked social networks as more important than dealership websites in their dealership selection process.
  • Vehicle incentives and coupons on social media are a big draw, as 45% of car buyers and 30% of service customers said they would “check-in” at a car dealership on Facebook to take advantage of various promotions. Check-ins are valuable as they broadcast to a consumer’s social network as an implied endorsement.
  • Facebook ads continue to gain use and awareness; 66% of car buyers/shoppers or owners who have seen a Facebook ad say they have clicked on it, up from 33% in 2014.

automotive car buyers

Here are some tips to effectively use social media to generate new car sales:

Encourage Social Reviews

Encourage your customers to share reviews on your social sites. Car shoppers are 90% more likely to visit your website and 5x more likely to visit your dealership if you have positive reviews (according to a study by DealerRater and Dataium).  Beyond the traditional third-party review sites, consumers are also checking reviews on social media so encourage your satisfied customers to share their great experience. Just as importantly, respond to negative reviews. Consumers who have had a bad experience want to be heard and prompt attention will mitigate damage. Be sure you are monitoring review sites and social channels, especially during weekend hours. Negative reviews are 19% more likely to be written on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday after a bad weekend experience and you don’t want these complaints to slip through the cracks.

Target Consumers Across Multiple Social Channels

Different social channels offer different ways to target your audience. A mix of social media should be used to optimize reach.

Facebook: 84% of your consumers on Facebook. Ads can be placed to reach people who have indicated they are in the market for a car. Consumers can be targeted by geography, vehicle type, gender, consumer interests, and more. Research by Unified shows that auto ads have 2 times higher click-through rates than the average Facebook ad.

Twitter: Twitter continues to be a popular choice among auto consumers. Recent research by Canvs found that more than 327,000 auto-related tweets are sent out daily, and 75% of these are directly related to owning or shopping. Using keyword targeting, these signals can be picked up and direct messages and advertising can be sent to targeted audiences.

Instagram: A survey by Facebook discovered that millennials are leaving Facebook and are turning more of their attention to Instagram. This social channel provides a great platform to creatively share pictures that allow consumers to imagine themselves in your vehicle – a picture of a car at the beach, tailgating at a sporting event, camping, near a lake, or any creative way to showcase the lifestyle your vehicle represents.

YouTube: According to Force Marketing, 84% of car shoppers plan to watch auto videos the next time they’re in market for a car. Car consumers are seeking information on model comparisons, safety features, connected devices, walk-arounds, and other content to help them make a decision.

automotive social media intent

Mine for Social Purchase Intent

Consumers are constantly sharing purchase intent on social media. For example, a typical Twitter feed might include the fact that an individual’s son/daughter just graduated from College (an Event), and is “off the payroll” (Slang) and now “he/she may finally be able to look at the Model S – (Intent).” Does this mean they’ll go out and purchase a new Model S Tesla? What if this same person tweeted a day later “Had a bad accident, definitely need a new set of wheels!” Is this a qualified lead for Tesla? Perhaps.

For the vast majority of social surveillance and analytics efforts to date, all any company could glean from these type of tweets, posts or blogs, is this ‘Entity’ (Individual) has a social handle or name, and lives in a certain City and State and likes the Tesla Model S (Sentiment). There are thousands of Tesla related tweets every day expressing some level of interest or intent. Is this Tweet and/or Individual Entity relevant to Tesla Motors? The answer is NOT YET.

The answer lies in the fact that the vast majority of social surveillance and analytics companies have very limited abilities in identifying the Individual’s Twitter or Facebook profile beyond what their public social profile offers. Who is this individual? Where do they actually live? Is their socioeconomic profile an indicator of their relevance to Tesla? Can they actually afford a Tesla Model S? The Dealership also must match this individual to their ‘actual’ demographic profile to see if they’re of age.

Here’s a few ways some very high tech digital surveillance and analytics companies are identifying live streaming purchase propensities, probabilities and potentials:

  1. Social Posts, Tweets or Blogs – Direct and indirect stated intent or interest.
  2. Socially Stated Life Events – New baby, child graduation, job promotion, legal settlement, recent marriage, etc., are all ‘signals’ or ‘triggers’ of purchase probability.
  3. Internet Social Slang Interpretation – “need new wheels,” “totaled the beast,” “Brad finally quit, looking for a new ride,” Etc.
  4. Real-Time Matching – being able to match an individual’s social handle/profile to their actual physical address, demographics and points of contact.

Perhaps even more exciting is the new age social surveillance and analytics companies also offer a dealership the ability to respond in real-time to thousands of prospects via various social channels.

Social marketing offers dealerships a range of opportunities to acquire new customers, improve retention, and increase revenue. As car buyers turn to the Web for vehicle research, maintaining a social media presence is becoming more and more important for dealerships.

To learn more about how the automotive industry is using data to acquire new customers download our free automotive marketing guide.

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