The social media conundrum continues to be topical in the world of the car retailing. More dealers than ever now have a Facebook and Twitter presence, but not many have made the impact that converts this presence to actual sales.
Facebook in particular is used by nearly 30 million people in the UK and as such is a huge opportunity for savvy dealers to generate enquiries for their products and services, and the next generation of car buyers will surely use social media to gather opinion on what products to buy and where to best find them.
Because the motor trade is still largely controlled by a “pre-social media” hierarchy it is difficult to change the culture and convince them to see the long term benefits of this kind of interaction without seeing immediate results from their investment. You can’t get them to truly buy into something they really don’t understand and the old Motor Trade mantra of “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is still widely used.
Just having a presence on Facebook or twitter is not a silver bullet and will not guarantee results, it is a media that needs to be relevant and constantly updated with a stream of information and examples of positive outcomes and service and product updates.
By interacting with people in this way car dealers can promote themselves without necessarily directly selling but putting their company “out there” in the public arena so that they can logically become a preferred dealer of choice at the point those potential customers enter the car buying or servicing arena.
It is investing in the future, and ensuring that you have bought a ticket for a slice of the pie to keep up with ever-changing research and buying patterns. It’s probably stating the obvious but dealers need to do things in such a way that customers positively promote their business in order to encourage others to use their services.
I remember visiting the Chinese city of Shanghai a few years back and was amazed at the shiny imposing American style shopping malls with every major retailing brand in the world being represented in the mall, but there being virtually no customers. The place had an almost ghostly, empty feel with a bountiful array of designer products and no one to buy them and bored staff with only themselves to talk to.
Fast forward to 2009 and my return and the place was jam packed with buyers using the newly created opportunities presented to them. Retailers were reaping the reward of their investment in the future which ensured theirs were the chosen stores visited by the customers who before could only aspire to own the products on display.
Although this may not be a like for like comparison the parallels are similar. Making the first step in having a social media presence online is only the start. Without understanding, having the appetite or being able to commit the extra resources needed to ensure social media is used correctly to promote the business and reap future rewards when the next generation of car buyers come to the market, there is almost no point in doing it.