The web and social media – some car dealers may have already missed the boat

In car dealerships around the country there are probably discussions going on around how they increase their exposure to social media but perhaps more importantly how they manage and maintain it.

It is all very well setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts or having innovations like live chat but if there is not the effort and investment made in finding the human resources to maintain them, then that is probably worse than not having them at all.

Unfortunately many decision makers in the car trade are all for finding better more creative ways of promoting their businesses and converting more leads to appointments. They simply do not understand, or perhaps believe, that social media is the future when engaging with new customers.

Having staff who understand how to use the technology and measuring how successful they are with it is probably not easy, it is not a silver bullet and it will not create extra sales overnight.

However it will show tomorrow’s buyers that you are a modern thinking car dealer who has the desire to explore non-traditional ways of trying to gain more customers. By promoting products and services and by being able to instantly respond to enquiries in this way will separate the good from the also-rans.

Many website owners are finding that the old methods of interaction such as web forums or message boards just aren’t engaging enough and many big sites have removed their user forums due to inactivity or activity by only a few core users. Most people now appear to want instant feedback; they are not prepared to wait 3 days for someone to respond to their forum post.

In fact usability guru Jakob Nielsen reported as far back as 2008 that web users were “becoming more selfish”. He even went as far as to call them “ruthless”. “People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience,” he said.

Based on his research he has calculated that whereas in 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go, by 2008 only 25% of people travelled via a homepage, the rest used search to get straight there. So three years down the line we can safely assume that the number of visitors exploring a site starting from the homepage is even less.

The searing pace of the internet means if you stand still you go backwards, fast and we can see how easy it can be for car dealers, who just want to sell cars, to be left behind; “we’ll I’ve got a website, isn’t that enough?”

If Facebook has amassed 500 million worldwide users (and counting) in such a short space of time it is unlikely that social networking is going away, and with a very small percentage of dealers actively using live chat and Facebook they are in danger of being left behind and will suffer as a result.

Let’s face it with more people looking to the web to find out what car they want next, dealers need to be available to respond instantly to potential enquiries.

As a sales manager said to me years ago ‘you don’t have to do much to be better than the competition’ which translates as if you want to improve your output you need to give yourself every chance of doing so.

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One Response to The web and social media – some car dealers may have already missed the boat

  1. Calgary Jeep November 24, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I’ve noticed fairly recently that in facebook, car dealers are now constructing fb groups or pages. They are also making their own page in youtube and are consistently releasing videos to the public. They are examples of car dealerships who KNOW what they are dealing with today. I just don’t know with others. If they are not moving yet, they need to wake up.

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