Buying A Car – A Social Media Experiment

As you know, I’m quite into using Social Media for various things – it’s an awesome way to connect with both people and companies. Mrs. Guru and I were recently in the car market – we’ve been borrowing a truck from my dad for several months (while we bought CasaGuru), and have paid a few things off, so we were ready to purchase her a car (so I can have my own truck back!). To see just how well social media works for local business, I posted on both Twitter and Facebook that I was looking to make a purchase, to see how well local businesses use those mediums to connect with me.

It actually didn’t started out so well – I purchased my truck from Jerry’s Weatherford 4 years ago, so I hopped onto their website, and was pleased to see a Twitter icon in the header – I tweeted an @reply to them, to see how well they engaged, but discovered that the twitter account is no longer even there! I can’t help but wonder what happened, and whether they’re looking for a new social media guy….

As I have over 1k followers on my personal account, many of which are in the DFW area, I went ahead and tweeted this (and also cross-posted it to Facebook):

twitter

By Thursday (5 days later) and I had yet to get a response on either Twitter or Facebook to either post. It’s fascinating that in this market, with auto sales so competitive, not a single dealership in the Dallas/Fort Worth market apparently has anyone monitoring Twitter to find people who are shopping for cars. I saw another friend on Facebook post that she’s shopping for a car, as well – I wonder if she got any responses from people who could actually help her do so?

After an entire week, I hadn’t received a single response from either Twitter or Facebook. We ended up doing it the old-fashioned way – drove to a couple of dealerships and let my wife wander around till she found something she liked. We test drove a few models, then settled on one.

So, how could area dealerships have made use of Social Media tools like Twitter and Facebook to generate actual, measurable foot traffic to their stores and let their salespeople convert those to sales? Here are a few ways:

1. Have the Internet Sales Manager or Marketing Manager setup the proper accounts – it wouldn’t take much to put together a nice, informative background and Twitter account, as well as a Facebook page for the dealership. Simply having the accounts setup and properly designed is a huge step so that someone searching either Facebook or Twitter would see that the dealership is out there (in addition to boosting search engine results, as more and more search engines look at social networks for ‘real time’ results). Perhaps even hiring a specific person to monitor the dealership’s online brand on a few popular social media sites.

2. Tweet a few ‘hot deals’ each week – you would want to be careful that this doesn’t get spammy, but it wouldn’t hurt to post a Twitter update/Facebook status of the hottest car you have in the lot – might be an awesome price, rare vehicle, or whatever. Anything that might catch someone’s eye. It’s the same thing that dealerships already do with their TV and print ads, only more real-time.

3. Monitor searches – apps such as Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc are great for updating these accounts and also monitoring search keywords – in my case, if they were searching ‘dfw car dealerships’, they might have found that I’m local and ready to make a purchase – 2 key obstacles for an auto salesperson to overcome. A simple @reply or email would have let me know that they’re out there and willing to help me find what I’m looking for.

That’s just three simple things that any car dealership – large or small – could do to instantly generate more interest and awareness of the used vehicles they have. It’s a shame that none of them are doing this, as it’s such an easy way to increase sales and build those ever-important relationships with consumers.

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