Are car dealers frightened of social media?

It appears so as less than 10 percent of the UK’s top 200 car dealers are represented on social networking sites and most of those probably only use it because they think they should or that there marketing departments think they should. As a Google employee recently commented social media is like teen sex, everyone wants to do it but no one actually knows how and when finally achieved, there is surprise it’s not better.

So do car dealers not understand why they are using it and what the benefits could be? Well you could be forgiven for thinking so, but my theory is that many believe it will be a bit like opening a can of worms.

Rightly or wrongly the motor trade has long been associated with the wrong kind of headlines and phrases such as ‘rip offs’ ‘cheats’ ‘con-men’ ‘dodgy dealers’ are difficult stereotypes to shake off and bring fear and dread to car dealers who value their reputations.

It is with this in mind that they probably set up twitter and Facebook accounts but are unsure or unwilling to take the necessary further steps to promote their brand, products and services. Unfortunately bad publicity gains more headlines than good and car dealers especially would rather not hear what their customers are saying about them for fear of letting the genie out of the bottle. But shouldn’t they be doing just that? Finding out what their customers are saying about them will enable them to do something to improve what they are offering, turn the negative headlines into positives and show what a progressive thinking company they are by engaging directly with their customers and the likelihood is that they would gain more as a result.

One thing is for sure social media is the future and the generation of younger people who are using social networking sites to discuss boyfriends and last night’s visit to the local nightclub where they all drank way too much Jagermeister will be the same people discussing what are the latest and best products on sale and who has what. By being a business that is active in social media they can directly engage tomorrow’s car buyers and find out what they are looking to buy whilst at the same time factoring in the service they offer.

For example today’s car business is dominated by customer service surveys and whole departments are set up in conjunction with the manufacturers to measure how well they are treating customers, but are they actually doing anything with this info or is it just a case of trying to get a good score to keep the management happy?

The other day I was in a showroom listening to a conversation between a salesman and his boss and the sales manager couldn’t understand why a customer had marked him down when he felt he had done everything possible to meet the buyers needs and though he had established a genuine rapport,

It was then, whilst looking at the comments that it was discovered that it wasn’t the service that had upset the customer it was the simple fact that he had had to pay for car mats when he thought they should have been part of the deal. Now is that bad service or simply a customer’s expectation not being fulfilled?

It does highlight one thing; if customers expect that by paying thousands of pounds for a car they should receive a set of mats free of charge then that could certainly be a small way in which a dealer might tell a wider audience via social media that they agreed.

It may not seem like a big thing in the first instance but by trying to do something different and by identifying a trend in comments from buyers the dealer can adapt and improve what they are offering.

Oh and they might gain some more customers.

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One Response to Are car dealers frightened of social media?

  1. paul stevenson August 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    the simple fact is that most car dealers still dont understand social media and what it can do for them,they think its a short lived trend which will soon go out of being scared of what your customers think of your business by ignoring it is not looking to the future,customers will say it anyway surely its far better for a car department to ahave the ability to respod to negative press but more importantly to learn from it and if neccessary rectify indicates a progresive foorward lloooking company who can accept that tryng to improver the service they give to their customers wwill ultimately gain them mor customers will be the long term winners

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