As previously written on Friendemic.com.
I am continually asked why social media is important for a car dealership. The most common questions I’ve heard are, “how many cars will it sell me?” or “why should I advertise on social media when I’m already advertising with TV, radio, billboards, etc?” These are all valid questions because, as a car dealership, you are in the business to sell cars!
Not too long ago consumers spent the majority of their time shopping for a new car at the dealership. The explosion of the Internet completely changed this and brought forth a new paradigm in which consumers shopped for a car. To put this into perspective, let’s look at some recent data found by IHS Polk. In 2011, the average consumer spent 6.75 hours shopping at the dealership for a car. Compare that to 2014, where the time spent at the dealership was nearly cut in half to 3.5 hours and 12 hours were spent shopping online. Consumers are now empowered with infinite amounts of knowledge at their fingertips and are, therefore, spending less time at your dealership.
But, where does social media come into the picture? Do you really think consumers are spending all 12 hours of online shopping looking at your website? Not likely! Consumers are comparing dealerships on sites like Edmunds and Cars.com. They’re also looking at social media sites such as Yelp, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to see if they want to do business with your dealership. And yes, Yelp and Google+ are social media sites as well as review sites, because users can interact with each other as well as with the business.
Most dealerships spend $50,000-$100,000 on advertising each month. If over 77 percent of a consumer’s time spent shopping for a car is online, are you protecting that investment with a strong digital presence? I don’t just mean your website. Are your review scores on Yelp, Google+, Facebook, etc., higher than your competitors? Do you actively engage current customers and potential customers through social media? Are you generating leads, increasing web traffic and driving more people to your place of business with social media? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions then you may need to rethink your marketing strategy.
The biggest difference between social media and all other forms of marketing is that social media is where you can have real-time, genuine conversations with your audience. You can get a pulse on how your customers actually feel. You can interact with potential customers and get them talking about your dealership, which their friends will more than likely see. People are now spending or more on social sites each day, and this trend continues to increase. Are you effectively engaging with these potential customers when they’re scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed for three hours each day, or are you slamming them with TV ads that only generate a positive ROI 18 percent of the time? (IHS Polk)
Okay, so now you finally believe me that there has been a fundamental shift in how consumers shop and how we need to market to them, right? At least I hope you do! Social media has proven to be a very effective marketing channel in which a business can engage with its customers outside of the brick and mortar store location. And believe it or not, social media has the power to sell cars! For all you naysayers, check out our blog about Twitter Advanced Search and learn how to identify the hand raisers in your market that are actively car shopping.