Automotive Digital Marketing

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I like Facebook. It’s a nice place to check up on my friends, and see what’s going on that day.  I also check Twitter occasionally. Social Media is a great way to share pictures and news pertinent to me, but there’s one thing I don’t go on these sites for, and that’s to be sold on something.


I recently read a blog post on Hanafin Loyalty’s website, titled ‘An Open Letter to Millennials’ (you can find that blog post here), where the author asks Millennial consumers how they prefer to be contacted about products. My answer to him? I don’t. At least not over social media outlets.


I know I might be burned at the stake for my opinions on social media advertising, but this post interested me. I am a big fan of traditional advertising, and the primary reason for that is because it isn’t as intrusive as new media.


One part of that blog that caught me was when the author asked about connecting with Millennial consumers over a text message. That left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t much like the thought of a company having my phone number and texting me news from their company, or the latest and greatest product.  This feels like an invasion of privacy to me, similar to telemarketer calls during dinner. I love being connected to the world, but I want it on my terms.


By now businesses should know not to constantly bombard their followers with product offerings, and instead provide information relevant to consumers. I love companies that show their human side, providing trivia in status updates to get consumers interacting, but many companies still see social media as an extra marketing ‘weapon’.

Maybe I’m being too old-fashioned, but I’ll take a 30-second spot about a new car over a status update on it any day.


This was more of a rant, but I do have a question: Are you using Facebook more to connect with your fans, or sell to them?


Will Michaelson

Sales Associate

Re:member group

Phone: 952.224.8002

Views: 625

Tags: Advertising, Car Dealer, Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter


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Comment by Cathy Nesbit on April 30, 2012 at 7:16am

@Tom Yes, I have been using Pinterest & it does, as well, produce some quality traffic to our site. Pinterest does make it very easy to showcase the product. 

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 28, 2012 at 4:59am

@Cathy Nesbit - Have you checked out Pinterest yet?  I've advocated socializing , interacting and word-of mouth rather than blatantly selling on Social Media for a long time.  But I'm revising that opinion just a bit for Pinterest.  It's beginning to look more sales friendly (or at least product friendly) than Facebook and Twitter.  And since you can put links to any page in the photo descriptions, it's a great referral site, now equal to Twitter and likely to surpass it soon enough.

Comment by Cathy Nesbit on April 24, 2012 at 12:13pm

We use facebook & social media to connect with our fans/customers/future customers. I don't use it as a sales platform for the most part. Now, I have built a relationship with our customers & they know that I'm always there to answer any questions they may have. If I'm into a car, I will certainly put up the link, a picture & a "man I'd sure like to have this one" post. This drives some good quality traffic. I also about once a week say something like "o yeah, if you've been trying to remember to come in for service, here's your reminder..Get your oil changed!" (with a link to make an appointment...

The dealership is very involved in the local community & we highlight this on facebook. Our focus is on dominating the local market. I don't look for facebook likes outside of our market & I don't try to make everyone happy. I speak to our fans as a friend about things that they like & care about. We have a close knit & growing facebook following with the "quality over quantity" goal being top priority everyday. 

We have 3147 Likes, 248 talking about us, 401 check ins. We do give a free wash n vac when you check in for a service appt. I'm really happy with the success that we have had on facebook. Customers have been generating their own content for our page, tagging us in their pictures, coming to post on our wall how much they love us, etc. Also, we have known for quite sometime that our customer loyalty has been going up since we have been doing social media. We have just this year been tracking sales & it has proven to be the case here that sales generated online or via social media make about $1,000 more per unit profit than sales from lot ups. I believe it just goes to show that people buy from people they like & are willing to pay more if it means they know they are in good, trust worthy hands. 

Comment by Will Michaelson on April 24, 2012 at 9:43am

Wow! $6 Million? Okay, I suppose they ARE doing it right.

With all of those views and responses on their posts, that must be great for their web presence.

Comment by Timothy Martell on April 24, 2012 at 9:25am

Will, your comment, "I don't even feel like I am visiting a dealerships website!" illustrates that they aredoing it right! That is why Marlboro Nissan has 5,843 people talking about their content in the last 30 days. Their 96,282 fans are connected to 29,569,018 people. An average of 307 friends per fan. That means those 5,843 people talking about their content have potentially influenced 1,794,435 potential buyers in the last month and exposed them to their brand. Not by using annoying sales tactics like, "It's raining, why not come test drive a new (insert your brand here)," but by writing about a diverse array of topics interesting to people they are connected to.

The purpose of using social media is to connect to people by sharing like interests. It is important to think of them as people as opposed to consumers. Of course they are consumers, but if you make them forget that and they become invested in you because they believe in a shared commonality, they will naturally want to do business with you because they like you. 

Car sales 101 - people buy cars from people they like. Now scale that and think about the possibilities when you have a chance to get 29 million people to like you.

You don't have to take my word for it. Marlboro Nissan's Facebook initiative alone was responsible for $6 million in gross sales in 2010. It shows you can sell with social media as long as you're not selling!

Comment by Will Michaelson on April 24, 2012 at 7:36am

Wow! I had no idea this topic would stir up so much great feedback! I really want to respond to everybody, so apologies in advance for the long text string.

Ralph - I do agree that dealerships shouldn't be wary of creating their own pages on social media outlets. EuroMotorcars is one dealership group that provokes interaction online, even if it's not directly selling a product. I follow them because of their quizzes and trivia. Also, thanks for reassuring me about the forum!


Ryan - I try to link up with the businesses I interact with often, and not much else. I remember when I followed everything and everyone, just to have a cluttered online mess. Some companies I follow because of the fan participation on their posts, whether insightful or funny. It all depends on the community, I suppose. Thanks!


Brent - I think the message of 'I don't want you to promote your products to me unless I'm interested in them' is right on the money, also providing a nice mix of fun and promotional messages is the best. When customers start to participate in your website, and see your dealership as a group of people rather than a cold business, that relationship can be fostered to get them into your dealership for their next vehicle.


Tracy - That's an awesome way to interact with your current customers, especially through a direct message. I would have loved getting a 'thank you' message online after my last car purchase. Great!


Brittany – People do love getting discounts online, and I think if your business can offer those discounts and deals without overdoing it, it’s a great way to keep in contact with a targeted audience.


Vicki -  I just checked Bill Estes Chevy’s FB page out, and they are really doing it right. Caption contests, keeping followers up to date on news around the community…I like it!


Timothy – Thanks so much for providing those numbers.  There is a huge opportunity to influence spending and brand loyalty through social media, you just have to strike a nice balance, where consumers don’t get pelted by constant marketing. These sites you’ve included are doing it totally wrong, though. I don’t even feel like I’m visiting a dealership’s website!


Marc – Yes! My boss preaches the ‘cocktail party’ example. Who wants to be that guy who only talks business at a party?


Tom – It is important to get your audience talking.  Even though they may not be looking for a new car at the moment,  they might want to repost the discounted vehicle for their friends. It might be easy to determine how effective your social media presence is, just by asking ‘Did you come in because of the Facebook/Twitter/etc. deal?’ 

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 23, 2012 at 4:37pm

It's important to realize that Social Media, including Facebook, is about customer retention and word-of-mouth marketing.  Since most will agree that word-of-mouth is the best type of advertising or marketing, I wonder what your traditional advertising agency would say if you asked them how much it would cost to get more of it...

Customer retention and WOM is not selling per se but it can result in sales and future sales.  Call it an investment, if you will.  How many dealers want a monthly ROI report on their coffee machine or large screen TV in their lounge or the free 1st oil change or loaner cars?  It's tough to do.  Customer interaction on Facebook keeps you in front of those customers (and their friends) and interacting with them in between purchases and service visits.  Invaluable!

Comment by Marc Bodner on April 23, 2012 at 2:19pm

What this points out is that social media is being executed improperly.  Social media is akin to working a room at a cocktail party.  It's not blatant, it's not in your face, it's not about what you do!  It's about who and what you are and what you may have in common with that other person.

I monitor a number of dealer social media pages.  I get a daily recap of all the posts written by CUSTOMERS AND CONNECTIONS of those dealers, not internal employees or social media services.  Every morning my mailbox is, well, underwhelmed by the connection level of dealers and people in their markets.

Social media is about context, not content.  Who are you, what do consumers know about you, and more importantly, who are those people in your market and what about them is interesting to you?  It's not TV advertising, it's not PPC or SEO it's not magazine or newspaper. 

Understand it and you'll see some startling ROI stats.

Comment by Timothy Martell on April 23, 2012 at 10:59am

Just the facts...

33% of social media users surveyed said that they would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer. 

43% of ALL online consumers are social media fans or followers.

64% of Americans stream mobile video at work.

The mobile marketing association of Asia found that out of 6 billion people on the planet, 4.8 billion people have a mobile phone while only 4.2 billion people owned a toothbrush.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are now considered cornerstones of most social media strategies in larger companies. Ninety-four percent of respondents said Facebook is one of their top three social media platform priorities. Twitter was second with 77% and YouTube trailed with 42%

56% of college students said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept the job or would join together to circumvent corporate policy.

Only 15% of the average local business’s fans are in the city where the business is located. 

There are 245 million internet users in the US, according to Internet World statistics. Nielsen estimates that social media sites and blogs reach 80% of ALL active US internet users!

According to another Nielsen study social media and blogs account for 43% of all internet usage. This is double online gaming, which comes in at number 2. After that it takes 75 different categories to account for the remaining 35% of time spent online.

If you want to betaken seriously by consumers in digital marketing, you better take social media seriously.

While many dealerships do not utilize social media properly, I highly doubt any are paying too much attention. More likely, they're paying too much attention to the platform itself and not enough attention on education of how to use social media to generate ROI. I wonder if any of these dealer's are seeing ROI from their Social Media:
To be fair, from a sales associate point of view, it is not very likely that you will directly realize the ROI of social media. Currently, the only data for dealer that suggests lift from social is at the big data level. 
Comment by Vicki ONeill on April 23, 2012 at 10:57am

You are correct, Will. People don't want to be sold to while on Facebook, Twitter, etc. They key -as we all know from our personal experiences and preferences - is to be remembered.

A dealership, IMO, that does a great job is Bill Estes Chevrolet. I follow them on FB and they have a nice mix of fun (questions, find X, etc.) and what's going on (including sales). Apart from the near 15k "likes", they have 146 "talking abouts" and 298 people who took the time to tell their FB friends they were there. Not bad stats. 

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