If the buzz we are hearing is to be believed then social media is set to play an ever increasing role in how car dealers do business in the coming year. The fact is that many dealers who used to think just signing up for a Facebook and Twitter account was some kind of silver bullet are now realising that it’s how these accounts are managed and what kind of interaction they are prepared to have with potential customers is important.
We only need look at the youth of today (God that makes me sound old) to visualise how the world is taking shape in terms of communication. I look at my kids and they seem to talk to their entire network of friends through BBM, Facebook or texting. I rarely hear any actual chatting and trying to part them from their blackberries at anytime is liable to cause world war 3 even when we are eating! (For all those parents frowning and going tsk tsk wait till you have teenagers!)
So what we need to realise is if dealers think that just trying to bludgeon people with direct advertising is going to keep giving results they are wrong. Simply trying to be part of what’s going on and delivering messages and inviting customers to air their views will, over a period of time, ensure that tomorrow’s car buyers choose you to do business with because they are comfortable that you are interacting with them on their terms.
It is long term thinking without expecting short term success and much like building a brand it requires patience and skill. The difference however is that in terms of what it could eventually achieve it is not particularly costly to reach out to potential and existing customers in this way.
Many dealers, especially in the franchised world, are turning to blogs on top of twitter etc to keep customers updated on what they are doing but also to continue promoting their corporate message (that of course is the easy bit writing a business blog post that people may actually want to read is quite another). But blogging is important as it may mean the difference when someone is shopping around. One business giving an insight into the way they do things and trying to personalize the car buying experience at an early stage may just have the edge with the car buyers of today (and tomorrow) on a dealership that doesn’t.
Although talking to customers in this way can also encourage them to air their not so positive experiences eventually they will appreciate that by this type of interaction the business is trying to improve how they treat customers and are therefore more likely to encourage more.
The final thought on this however is that it is one thing having a blog but, as I’ve said, ensuring that a dealer commits to the right sort of staff to execute an interesting blog which people want to read is quite another matter.
Having a corporate blog and not updating it regularly with interesting relevant information and avoiding the temptation to continually market products or services will ensure that the readership grows and as a result are more likely to trust that business with their hard earned pounds when it comes to parting with them!
As with most things like this it’s not rocket science.