By: Joey Little

According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of online adults have a Facebook account—a statistic that, in itself, gives way to quite a bit of insight.  Social networking, sharing, and marketing have become the norm in our hectic day-to-day lives, and busy consumers are demanding more online interaction for brands to earn their trust.  But have you thought about how your dealership can benefit from all that interaction?

For both social and consumer purposes, people are turning to online platforms as a matter of convenience and as a reflection of a new, fast-paced lifestyle that requires instant responses and unlimited information.  Facebook is the giant in the room, but it’s not the only platform that’s changing the way we interact and share.

While Facebook users continue to show high levels of engagement, it’s also been shown that multi-platform use is increasing, with 52% of adults stating they use two or more social media sites—up from 42% in just one year.  Although engagement on Facebook is high, there is also plenty of growth in user numbers on popular platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.  However we look at it, social media dominates the way most people interact and do business in the world today.

The Benefits of Being Social

All those online consumers have something in common.  They share.  In fact, they share a LOT.  And for your dealership, that means you have the opportunity to glean quite a bit of valuable data you can put to good use when it comes to selling cars and service.

Think about your own Facebook account and the details people can likely pick up just from your profile and your feed.  You probably share your birthday, special life events, updates about your family, and maybe even insights about brands and products you like.  That’s a lot of information that can help others learn about you and what you might be interested in purchasing.

The same information shows up when you interact and form relationships with consumers via social media.  Not only are you working to build trust and rapport, but you also gain valuable insights into their shopping preferences, brand affiliations, and needs within the marketplace.  Consumers are turning to social media to share just about everything, so it makes sense that your dealership is there to listen and learn how you can provide exactly what they’re looking for.

Doubt the Doubters

You may have heard people say the internet—and social media specifically—is a distraction or a time-waster, but it’s exactly the opposite when you leverage your strengths and enlist the help of your employees to share your dealership with their online social circles.  The doubters are missing out on all the great benefits social media can offer.

Trust Your Advocates

Not only is social media a great business-builder, it’s been proven employees are powerful advocates when it comes building a brand online.  Did you know employees have an average of 10 times more online social connections that brands alone?  That means not only can you connect with more potential shoppers, but you also have more resources who are able to help you gather consumer data.  And that seems like a pretty smart decision.

You need to be on Facebook.  You need to be on Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media platforms you are able to maintain.  Evidence shows consumers are spending an increasing amount of time learning about companies, products, and services on social media sites; and it only makes sense for you to engage potential customers and learn about them in return.  It’s a data recon mission, plain and simple.  And you don’t want to miss out.

Stand Out as a Leader

You have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and present yourself as a leader in the industry by providing the engagement consumers are seeking.  Online shoppers are hungry; they are hungry for businesses that can provide quality content and social interaction without “in-your-face” selling.  While it’s true many marketers waited to see what would happen with online social selling, that’s no longer an option for businesses that want to be successful.  90% of marketers now use social media to promote their brands, and you can be assured those who are not onboard the social media train are actively losing leads.

If you’re looking for a few more reasons to adopt social media as your new best friend, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • It’s not just for millennials. When we think of social media, we tend to think the younger generations dominate the field, but for the first time ever, over half of all online adults that are age 65 and over use Facebook.  This accounts for 31% of all U.S. seniors.
  • The average person in the U.S. spends approximately 16 minutes per hour on social media networks.
  • Facebook has approximately 1.15 billion monthly active users, followed by Google+ with approximately 359 million monthly users, and Twitter with approximately 215 million monthly users.
  • 47% of U.S. shoppers say their number one influencer for purchases is Facebook. That’s up from 24% in 2011.
  • 23% of Facebook users say they login a minimum of 5 times per day.

Social media influences the lives of just about everyone—from the youngest generation to the oldest.  From gamification to online learning, from brand content to one-on-one consumer interactions—businesses are finding their niches and learning we are well beyond the wait-and-see stage.  Not only are you able to interact and share with consumers, you’re able to gain valuable information that will help you offer exactly what your customers need.  By being social, you’ll be able to personalize your service, and in today’s fast-paced, on-the-go society, personalization will help you stand out from the crowd.  Work toward building solid social relationships, and you’ll not only build consumer trust, but you’ll learn details about your customers that will help you make more sales.

Bio: Joey Little serves as Director of Digital and Social Engagement for AutoAlert.  An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.

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