Many U.S. Auto Dealers Still Don’t Get Facebook Marketing

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Many businesses have discovered in recent years that using social networking to connect with their existing and potential customer base is a powerful tool that can help increase sales and customer loyalty. Yet, in spite of this major development in the world of marketing, many U.S. car dealerships have yet to establish any presence on Facebook! This can affect overall car sales in numerous ways, and it can even prevent someone from shopping at the dealership in question.

While the demographics the dealership is targeting will have some influence on whether or not Facebook will be a major business tool, the reality is that Facebook is BIG. Many consumers have come to expect that every business should have a Facebook presence, and therefore may find it to be a major turnoff when they discover that their local dealership doesn’t “get” Facebook.

Failure to Facebook is potentially bad because it implies that the dealer does not understand how the modern customer operates, reinforcing a commonly held belief that auto dealers are poor at customer service. Furthermore, Facebook gives consumers a chance to test the waters with a business before deciding to buy.

A car customer, for example, might ask a dealer a question on Facebook before expressing an interest in buying. How the dealership responds to a supposedly “random” person on Facebook (who is really a potential customer in disguise) could go a long way towards building some trust and generating a sale.

So, the question is, why do so many auto dealers fail to have a Facebook page? Because:

  • Senior management doesn’t understand the platform
  • Staff is usually an over-worked salesperson who doesn’t have time to devote to Facebook
  • Staff at all levels don’t see the long-term benefits (or don’t care about them)
  • Staff that has more free time – such as the parts and accessories department – isn’t allowed to manage Facebook because it’s the proxy of the sales department
  • Senior management thinks that their typical consumer is too old for Facebook

The last reason – the idea that the “older crowd” will not be influenced by a dealership’s presence on Facebook – is a commonly held belief, but it’s not exactly derived from facts. While it’s true that many of the older consumers aren’t active on Facebook, that is rapidly changing. Some of the most explosive growth in Facebook membership comes from consumers over 50.

While it’s true that Facebook is an important marketing tool, it’s also true that dealers aren’t going to make or brake their business on Facebook…yet. But who’s to say that in another 2 or 3 years, consumers won’t rely heavily upon recommendations from Facebook friends when deciding on where to buy their next car? Considering that the buying cycle of the average car purchase is 4+ years, and considering the amount of revenue a vehicle sale can generate, dealers are foolish to ignore Facebook.

Which is why I say that dealers who aren’t on Facebook are building themselves up for another #fail with consumers.

Author Jason Lancaster’s experience as an auto dealership sales director helps him understand the power of connecting with customers. He works with Olathe Toyota Parts who provides cheap genuine Toyota parts.

Image credit Joe McKinney