Social media and the automotive industry – the genie’s out of the bottle

It appears that the motor trade is somewhat slower than other business sectors to take advantage of social media, thinking that perhaps it is something for the “youth” and not really seeing the benefits to their business.

They are, it seems also frightened of the potential for bad publicity should they let the genie escape from the bottle. But the reality is the genie popped his cork quite some time ago and social media is here to stay and is growing exponentially. So the truth is car dealers may very well be receiving bad publicity on a daily basis and are just not aware of it.

Ironically the biggest increase in users of Facebook is people in their mid thirties and onwards which shows it’s actually not just for the kids.

Switched on businesses see it is a way of engage with customers old and new and are excited by the prospect of being able to reach a potentially huge market and promoting their brands through instant communication.

We can now instantly post comments via iPhones and Blackberry’s on different and various social media outlets but to some it may still seem like “another world”. One colleague reckons his teenage daughters post messages and pictures whilst they are still in the process of doing other things, whilst he stares on incredulously. But that in itself tells us that to the teenagers of today (i.e. the car buyers of tomorrow) social networking is second nature. It may also tell us something about females and multi-tasking but that’s probably for another time.

The reality is that not many dealers or car makers are particularly good or active in their use of social media and, dare I say it probably don’t understand what it is all about. The motor trade as a whole is notorious for the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mentality but that may all be about to change.

There are companies springing up now which offer business the opportunity to monitor all social media networks for mention of their company. This gives them the opportunity to capitalize on good publicity or deal head on with a disgruntled customer who is letting everyone know how ticked off they are.

Once the majority realise how important and what a great source of obtaining publicity it is then light bulbs will be pinging on above people’s heads throughout the business. When they cotton on to the fact that it provides the ability to promote special offers and great deals very inexpensively often with instant feedback there will be a sea change in outlook.

As one colleague recently exclaimed; “the timing is uncertain but the outcome is beyond question!”


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2 Responses to Social media and the automotive industry – the genie’s out of the bottle

  1. JCT600 July 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    Great article about the potential of social media for car retailers, but actually some of us have been developing this for some time. At JCT600 we’ve found both Twitter and Facebook really useful as another route to conversation with our customers and have received sales enquiries as a result. We use the sites to keep our followers aware not only of our latest offers but also our job vacancies and group news, as well as other ‘auto’ related information that may be of interest. Our online services are managed in house by a real person so customers build up a real relationship with us. Over 60% of our enquiries now arrive via the internet and we recognise the value of the online environment as a whole, investing heavily in our website http://www.jct600.co.uk with live chat and call back facilities too.

    Social media is a vital part of our digital marketing mix and whilst there may be a sense of apprehension regarding dealing with possible customer dissatisfaction in such a public arena, the advantage of being there is that you have the option to react and respond to any issues that may arise. If you’re not there to pick up on these things they could quickly spiral out of control – in the past, an unhappy customer might tell a few people, but in 2010 an unhappy customer can tell hundreds of people with a few key strokes and a sharp punch on the enter key! Luckily for JCT600 we have seen a very positive response to our arrival into the social environment – we have over 500 followers across our two profiles and of course are always looking for more… Twitter @jct600 and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/jct600

    Social media offers a fantastic opportunity for brands to communicate effectively with consumers – let’s make the most of it!

    • Alex Wright March 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

      I have been in the automotive industry for 21 years, the last 2 to 3 years I have seen social media creeping into the business and taking over marketing meetings. Most social media marketing within the motor trade is for brand awareness, not for actually selling vehicles – If you push the selling aspect on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc then there is a good chance your friends will switch off (or switch you off).

      Social media, I believe will change the way in which people in the future will acquire vehicles (when the younger generation grow up!!), not only how contact is made but how vehicles will be funded and replaced (the buying process will speed up, face to face appointments will drop, rental / lease will be the preferred option replacing traditional HP and when a new model is out the user will want to swap in their current model – today). Motor trade businesses need to be prepared!

      I specifically built a website called Motor TradeBook to ‘mix’ the social media element with business, to help the ‘trade’ connect and interact and the retail customer to find, connect and communicate with the seller – Motor TradeBook also adds value as it is the best CRM system out there, helps up sell downstream revenues, and allows you you drip feed information on products and services offered (MTB also links into all social media sites Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc).

      I have huge expansion plans for Motor TradeBook when I introduce phase 2 & 3, what will the site look like in 12 months?

      If there is anyone out there that would like to benefit from Motor TradeBook, you can sign up for free @ http://www.motortradebook.com

      I look forward to connecting shortly……………….

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