Just how important is social media for car dealerships?

Just how important is social media for car dealerships? The short answer is "very!" There is just no getting around the fact that social media plays a pivotal and, some would argue, central place in people’s lives. It seems to run across age and class boundaries to varying extents as well.

A key aspect of your online presence is your social media presence. Ignore your social media presence, and you will be endangering your online presence as a whole and potentially handing your competitors a significant strategic advantage. The bottom line is that you must have a social media presence, so pay attention to that presence and develop it! 

So which social media tools should you use and invest your time and money in? This is one of the most common and most important questions that you can ask regarding your online presence and what you need to allow it to consistently grow. Twitter is one of the key tools that dealerships can use to engage potential customers. According to a recent report by Burson-Marsteller, among Fortune 100 companies, 93% update their Facebook pages weekly. This number has increased from past years.esence. Ignore your social media presence, and you will be endangering your online presence as a whole and potentially handing your competitors a significant strategic advantage. The bottom line is that you must have a social media presence, so pay attention to that presence and develop it!

You’ve likely heard that you shouldn’t “reinvent the wheel” and that it makes sense to pay close attention to what leading businesses are doing and where they are headed across the board. When you analyze how the world's largest and most successful companies are handling social media, it only makes sense to follow in

their footsteps. Keep in mind that these companies have the benefit of tremendous resources and that doesn’t just mean financial resources. It also includes the ability to benefit from what those financial resources can acquire, such as the leading marketing and online consultants and consulting firms. If these powerful companies are focusing intensely on Twitter and Facebook, then you should strongly consider it as well.

However, many dealerships struggle with best practices. While it can seem like an obvious strategy to consistently post links regarding company promotions and offers, this actually isn't the best way to get conversions. This issue has been discussed not only concerning dealerships, but also in regards to any company looking to make sales through Twitter. Twitter is a remarkably powerful tool but only when used effectively.

For example, in the article "Dealers Should Post Fewer Links and More Interactions, Text, and Images on Twitter" on the DrivingSales blog, the author points out that links should be toned down and posts should be full of interactions with others. The key word is “interactions.” At the heart of how you can get the most out of Twitter and swell the ranks of your showroom is to use Twitter as a platform of interaction with your customers.

Showing that you are engaged and wish to help your existing customers and potential customers achieve what they want with their car purchases will translate into results. By contrast, simply using Twitter to constantly “blast” that you have something for sale will be far, far less productive. In fact, following this strategy will likely lead you to conclude that Twitter doesn’t work, but when used correctly Twitter and other key social media tools can be highly effective.

JD Rucker writes, "Most businesses are using it (Twitter) strictly for broadcasting. The paradox that many fail to understand is that if you talk about yourself less and talk about others more, your messages about yourself will reach a greater number of people. In many ways, it’s about earning the right to broadcast."

Following this advice and implementing it may take some time but the end results are well worth it, and you should pursue Twitter in this fashion.

Those using Twitter should be sure to retweet others, send @replies and also join in conversations; joining in conversations is key as it shows that you are an aware and engaging member of the Twitter community and interested in making contributions. While it may be tempting to just automate all posts through a tool like HootSuite, it really is necessary to spend time on Twitter reading other people's posts. Reading the posts of others shows that you are aware, listening and thus engaged.

It is the “listening” aspect that could prove to be most useful for you in shaping the perceptions of potential car buyers. After all, wouldn’t you choose a car dealership that demonstrates that it actively listens to the community and car buyers over one that has failed to demonstrate such professionalism?

Through Twitter, you can communicate with people in real time. Feel free to schedule tweets, but don't rely on that as a crutch as this can greatly undermine all of your efforts. It is essential to also engage others in up to the minute conversations.

According to Burson-Marsteller data, engagement is key among Fortune 100 companies. "Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts on Twitter attempt to engage with other users by retweeting and using @mentions." All of theses facts, of course, point in the same direction; your dealership should be doing the same. Social networking tools, such as Twitter, must be used to effectively interact with and engage potential car buyers. Again, if you don’t use social media tools in this fashion, you run the risk of having your competitors effectively engage prospective car buyers instead of you. That could spell trouble and empty showrooms.

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Comment by Rob Hagen on December 9, 2013 at 6:09pm

Yes it is very critical but here is a bit of cold reality: people don't want to be friends with a car dealership. There are ways to overcome this but it takes a proactive approach and some outside the box thinking.

Comment by Ganesan Ramaswamy on December 9, 2013 at 11:18am

In Auto Industry, social media plays a vital role in every area/aspects. It is a part and parcel in our auto industry from A to Z. Hence, it is advisable to go with them in society to grow and improve our business in future/further.

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