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Car Dealers Must Respond To Millennials On Social Media

Millennial Car Buyers to OEM's and Dealers:
Respond When You’re Being Spoken… "About"


An example of this confusion and possibly a double standard when it comes to online monitoring is that roughly 6 in 10 respondents aged 18-54 want companies to listen to what they say about them online (4 in 10 of the 55+ crowd). While at the same time, about half of the survey's respondents think that consumers should be able to talk about companies online without those companies listening in. This desire for privacy increases for the 55+ age group, of which 59% do not want companies seeing what they post about them online.


But wait... There's more (confusion) in these survey results!

Between half and two-thirds of respondents want companies to respond when they’re being discussed online, while the same survey reports that more than 6 in 10 also say that companies should only respond to online comments made directly to them (i.e. on their Facebook page, tweeted to them, etc.) You should download the PDF file of the report and take a look... In my opinion, what we are seeing is the variance based on where and what types of social media these comments are being made that reference a car company, make or dealership by name.


In an attempt at trying to poke fun at their own report's findings, the authors note that the takeaway for automotive marketers and others who handle social media strategy is that they should be “telepathic.” Perhaps "empathetic" would be a better choice of words and not so much in jest... The next-best advice given is for marketers to:

  • Automotive Social Marketers should go beyond listening
  • Try to understand what consumers are saying
  • Consider the conversation’s context  
  • Deliver mutual value when engaging  
  • Show how listening can be a relationship-building tool rather than an intrusion


Other Findings:

  • Despite holding all these varied opinions about social media privacy, less than three-quarters of respondents (ranging from 62% of 18-24-year olds to 72% of 45-54-year-olds) know that car companies  or dealership employees might be listening to what they’re saying online.
  • Roughly 4 in 10 respondents aged 18-54 feel that dealerships and car companies listening to online conversations are intruding. That rises to 54% among the 55 and over demographic.
  • Attitudes regarding whether companies should monitor online conversations to improve products and services vary significantly among age groups, ranging from 40% agreement for the 18-24 set, to 57% for the 45-54 group, and back down to 37% for the 55+ set.
  • Slightly more respondents believe that a company should respond to them if they make a negative remark about the company in an online post than if they make a positive remark about a company in an online post.


About the Data: J.D. Power and Associates, in association with NetBase, conducted a survey in December 2012 of 1,062 U.S. consumers ages 18–55+.


Data Source:


eBook Source:


Download the Social Listening and Big Brother eBook by NetBase and J.D. Power and Associates:  NetBase JDPower Listening and Privacy eBook.pdf 



How Does a Car Dealership Create a Structured Response Process? 

In regards to the process around a dealership monitoring and then responding to online blogs, comments, posts and discussions where the dealership is brought up or mentioned, I started developing a process and work flow while launching the ADP Social Media Reputation Management Team in 2009 and 2010.  The work flow process chart shown below is based on something I saw published by the US Military in regards to how the Air Force responds to online comments and blog posts. 


When I left ADP and went to work for Tier10 Marketing at the beginning of 2011, we revised and upgraded the work flow planning for better results and more production efficiency. The chart below reflects the Tier10 Marketing version of what we recommended:


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Tags: Car Dealers, Millennials, Must, Reputation Management, Respond, Social Media


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Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 4, 2013 at 4:02am

Tom, I have been surprised over the past two years at the number of dealerships I visit which have either a fully dedicated social media marketing resource on staff, or a marketing resource who spends a good part of their day working social media channels, while handling a lot of other marketing duties as well. I was delighted when i walked into Salazar Kia ion Goodyear, AZ last year and found one of my former "SoMars" (Social Marketer) from the SkySong Ops Center I built and ran for ADP Dealer Services working there... I have since learned that after Cobalt moved the ADP Social Media Ops center to Seattle, all 18 of the SoMars I trained at SkySong went on to find jobs working in related social media marketing roles either at dealerships or for other service providers. The Ken Grody Ford stores in SoCal have a dedicated social media marketer for two ford dealerships. But, I also see a lot of dealers who are outsourcing the jobs related to social media to local "jobbers" who handle a small number of businesses, or an ad agency, and a lot of dealers are contracting with various social media marketing service providers. Digital Airstrike, SocialDealer, Cobalt, Naked Lime and many others have tapped into the burgeoning market for social media marketing and management services as a form of "Business Process Outsourcing".  In many ways the outsourcing of social media management to suppliers reminds of outsourcing a BDC's role... Not the ideal way to get it done, but there are so few truly skilled social media marketers available for hire that it kind of creates the market for dealers to outsource to suppliers.

Although I am biased (because my babies are all beautiful), one of the best scenarios I have seen is where a dealer group with 3 to 6 stores has a dedicated full time Social Media Marketing Director, and he/she supervises the services of outsourced social media resources from a service provider... This gives the group and the stores somebody who is on site, plus most of the heavy lifting of content creation and fast initial response to reviews, comments and posts is being monitored and handled by the outsource BPO provider. 

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on March 2, 2013 at 10:05pm
Great piece ralph. This question kind of relates to social media overall, but do you have a feel for how many stores are actually paying a social media person full time for this a a primary role? Because it seems like you almost need one these days, especially when you start talking about monitoring and responding...
Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 27, 2013 at 7:59pm

Gary, in regards to what social media service providers offer (vendors), I ran into a cultural bias when setting up the original ADP Social Media team in Scottsdale in 2010... Over and over again I heard ADP executives and management saying "we cannot respond on behalf of a dealer, the liability would be unmanageable..." and other objections. At one point i went top the ADP Legal Team, a very astute group and about as conservative a legal team as anywhere. I learned that acting as an agent on behalf of a car dealer in responding to customer concerns is neither dangerous  nor outside of normal customs and practices in many industries .. Ever hear of something called "Pubic Relations"? 

So, we implemented a process based on a comment/content/post workflow analysis chart, and it worked exceptionally well... In fact, most of the dealers we served liked the way we responded and followed up with dealership personnel better than if they had handled it themselves. When I went to Tier10 Marketing after ADP, we revised the process work flow to improve the results and shown below is what we used. In case anyone is wondering, this was originally patterned after the US Airforce's Social media response workflow process.

Comment by Gary May on February 27, 2013 at 1:46pm


Timely post for so many reasons. Specific data/statistics aside, there's still too much talking and not as much listening in automotive social media. Most the vendors don't understand this, they don't sell that way, dealers don't ask the right questions (especially with 20 Group presentations and OEM endorsements dealerships buy blindly and without basis) and automation trumps effort. Simply put, social network content is about (the very overused word) engagement (listening, interacting, compelling).

85% plus of dealers don't know how to even see if someone mentioned them ion Twitter, left a review or comment on Foursquare, or if a Google Plus (if they're using it) post has been shared.

Dealerships: Consumers want to be responded to NOT MATTER WHAT TECHNOLOGY THEY USE OR WHEN. Until we realize, as progressive of an industry as we are, that the consumer now leads and the dealership follows and we do so only controlling process in the dealership and communication, we're doomed to fail with social (and lead handling and customer retention and marketing and........)

Gary May


Comment by Alexander Lau on February 27, 2013 at 1:02pm

I agree and that's whether a dealership likes it (no pun intended) or not. I love how those infographics use the exact Facebook blue, as if that's the only social network out there. With the way Pinterest is going, they had better start paying attention to the 'Millennial Females' out there. They seem to convert better than Facebook from all the data out there (this might differ for autos and demographic, however). Go ask PinfluencerMany businesses say they are eager for more tools and services from Pinterest, since consumers who flock to the site tend to click through to e-commerce sites.

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