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Are Car Dealers Apathetic About Social Media Marketing?  

Social media marketing is popular but not considered "mission critical" by most car dealers and locally based business owners... Does this represent a marketing competency gap?

Uptake of social media marketing among US based Car Dealers has become somewhat widespread amongst the auto industry's early adopters. There's plenty of automotive marketing related research available that has suggested it’s a cost-effective, easy-to-use marketing channel that can boost customer acquisition as well as fulfill other automotive marketing goals. But the majority of American Car Dealers still don’t see social media as a "marketing necessity".


Social Media Strategic Importance 

More than half of the dealers and dealership decision-makers and business owners surveyed in June by small-business insurance provider Hiscox said they used social media for business purposes, but a plurality also declared that it wasn’t necessary to their business. Just 12% considered it a “must.” 


Let's take a look at why these two responses represent a huge gap in the understanding of what Social Media Marketing is most effective at by Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and locally based Business Owners...

Word Of Mouth Versus Social Media  

At the same time, though, 50% of car dealers, automotive marketers and business owner respondents said the marketing tool they could not do without was "word-of-mouth".  Yet, surprisingly enough, just 4% of car dealers, automotive marketing professionals and business owners said the same about social media marketing, even though the goal of most social media marketing efforts is exactly that... to create word-of-mouth message communications and viral marketing velocity.


The ROI on Word Of Mouth 

Nearly two in five (40%) of the car dealers, automotive marketing professionals and locally based business owners surveyed said word-of-mouth was the main way they got business, and another 42% cited word-of-mouth in combination with other marketing promotions.


Reputation Management is Primary Objective

While offline forms of word-of-mouth remain critical for all automotive franchise brands, and certainly for small or locally based independent car dealers and businesses of all kinds, social media also plays a valuable role by giving customers a wider voice for their dealership experience reviews, product and dealer recommendations and helping to amplify that voice beyond their immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues.

Among dealerships and other locally based businesses that report using social media for marketing purposes, Facebook was most commonly used and was also considered the most effective at growing and expanding the business, followed by LinkedIn.


Data Source:

Tags: Apathy, Car Dealer, Social Media

Views: 1333

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I think this is where I chime in and say "I was just talking to someone on FACEBOOK about this very thing!" :)

I'll follow up with, "yeah me too, I talk to a lot of business owners on a daily basis and always ask if they are managing their reputation online in any fashion. Many say 'nope don't need to'.

Kinda strange to see that if you look up those that say they're doing great, it looks like they're ok, but their reputation isn't always good online. Yet they still go after 'word of mouth' marketing and depend on that as their mainstay.

Just a thought, even if you don't depend on SM as a means to generate word of Mouth advertising, you may wish to at least keep up on your reputation online so that if there are any issues you can deal with them quickly and efficiently before it gets out of hand. 


I've seen large companies make one small mistake and bloggers and Social Media users totally trash them and they see it on their bottom line. For a big company to be affected like that, you may wish to keep at least an eye on it.

It's exactly that kind of apathy in so many Dealer mindsets that caused me to stop wasting my time with Principals and Owners not truly interested in evolving their bottom line - a pervasive, sad lack of vision hardened by continual marketing failures supported by conceited excuses masquerading as "experience" and followed by blindly repetitious knockings of heads against the same unyielding wall.


Of course, many of these are the same Principals and Owners who switch and chase after shiny gimmicks ever one to three months hoping for salvation from lousy numbers, high turnover, and viciously antagonistic public perception.

That's every business owner's mindset...'I want results now" not let's get the data and figure out where this will work. They intentionally 'try' new stuff to justify that the old way is the only way.


I feel your frustration. 


That said, I've noticed that web chat is finally taking off for some dealerships. funny though it's as if they don't know how to use it. I've been on three that you end up having to leave a message...??


Why would you get a LIVE tool and make someone leave a message? 


I'd love to see the dealerships that have Live Web chat MONITORED speak up here. I bet they are experiencing some serious growth. (Provided they have the right people watching for the traffic coming through)


In any case, When they finally get over their egos we'll see a change in stats. Til then be ready to keep banging head against wall.... 

Many GMs and Principals don't "facebook" themselves.  Or any social media is left to their spouse.  Well, if you don't do it, you don't get it--making decisions, pro or con, about social media efforts and spends without participating in social media yourself is like deciding about print ads without knowing how to read.



Not much more to say after that one...although I'm sure we can come up with a lot more...LMAO!

What's even more ironic, is we, UK automotive professionals look to the US as the place where smart social media marketing is really happening.


As Michael just commented, most dealers are brought up on short term tactical activity. If I spend x now, I can expect a return of y by the end of this week. The idea of having to spend $100's per month (conservative estimate) to have a fully fledged social media marketing program, and likely see no return of any bottom line consequence for 6 months, is simply not going to happen.


Yet I'm sure we can all quote some great dealers who have truly embraced social media and are consistently outperforming their short term tactical neighbours. Ironically, it's not difficult to follow what these dealers are consistently doing well; it would be easy for all dealers to learn and instigate for themselves - but they choose to ignore this and continue with their tried, tested and consistently under-performing habits.



"it would be easy for all dealers to learn and instigate for themselves - but they choose to ignore this and continue with their tried, tested and consistently under-performing habits." 


LOL Instigate is a perfect word there Andrew!

Wow Ralph, you set me up with this one.  You know this is my favorite topic.  I've only written a few posts on ADM and they're all about this topic.  The People We Touch (which is directly about word-of-mouth advertising), Social Media - Evolution or Revolution, and Social Media ROI - Are We Asking The Right Questions.


It really doesn't surprise me that 43% of respondents said, "It's not necessary to my business".  They would have said the same thing 10 years ago about the Internet.  I'm really not concerned about those dealers.  They are the ones that the rest were born to beat. 


In fact, I'm not really concerned about the majority of dealers (followers) who want to see others succeed before they "jump in".  I'm concerned that the "leaders" see Social Media for what it is... the next Internet Revolution.  Right now, that's just 12%.  Sounds fair to me.  Not everyone can be a leader.


I would like to ask, "How many dealers are on here reading these posts to try to improve their business?"  I'm not talking about their sales staff or Internet Managers or other forward thinkers in their dealership.  I'm talking about dealers.  I suppose they're too busy.  Whadaya think?


If any of you know of Elise Kephardt of Sunset Honda (member here, and participant in the Internet Battle Plans), you'll probably understand her selling success is tied to great videos--most of them individual selling and closing tools (  I just heard of a conversation with a GM who was pointing out how few "views" each of her videos got . . . as that was some kind of negative to him . . . sigh.  She sells north of 30 cars a month, as I understand it, and you can see why from the videos - IF you can understand she's not trying to be Shakira with 30million views or whatever (at least not yet).  She's just trying to sell herself, her dealer, and her cars in a modern--and successful!--way to the handful of people she needs to connect with in order to do that.  Shamefully, it's people who look for the "Internet No", as this GM did, who will never get Social Media (whatever it becomes) either.

Keith, we have almost 1500 videos and most have 1 or 2 views.  That's OK as most of them were meant for one person only, the customer who inquired about a vehicle and the video mentions that ONE customer by name.  If that video brings that ONE customer in, it did it's job.  What's the ROI of that? 

Hmmmm Elise is fantastic, I was so impressed to see what she does for her customers. It's called "wowing" your customer.  The customer understands that you went above and beyond what was expected to earn their business.  What light bulb is too dim to see that?


But take a look at one of our salesman's videos with over 19,500 views... He is not a movie star, but he's earned his wings with that many views.  He also happens to be our top salesperson month after month.

Btw, the video is much too long, he is not exciting, but he does a video for every Internet customer and he keeps getting business day after day.  He just "gets it".


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