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Car Dealerships Need to Rev Up Social Media Savvy

Social media is in the driver's seat when it comes to selecting a dealership for a new car purchase . / Credit: Tachometer image via Shutterstock

Social media is in the driver's seat when it comes to selecting a dealership for a new car purchase, a new study shows. But many dealerships are not effectively engaging with social media-savvy consumers when they try to do it on their own.

Digital Air Strike, a social media consultancy, conducted a survey of 275 car buyers and 600 automobile dealers to analyze the use of social media and review sites by car buyers and audit how car dealerships engage with consumers on these sites.

The study measured usage trends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and identified  the top three dealership review sites, based on consumer use and traffic — Edmunds (22 percent), Cars.com (20 percent) and  Yelp (19 percent).

[Pollinators: Creating Buzz Around Your Biz]

Nearly three-quarters (69 percent) of consumers said social media sites helped their vehicle purchase selection, the survey found. Almost as many (68 percent) said that dealership reviews affected which dealership they visited when shopping for a car.

And half saidthat reading reviews affirmed their original choice of dealership, while 18 percent of consumers said they either selected a dealership based on the reviews they read or changed their choice of dealership after reading reviews on multiple dealerships.

Consumers are doing their social media homework when buying a car, but the dealerships are not holding up their end of the engagement, the survey found. The majority of dealers that try to manage social media activities in-house are not effectively leveraging social media as a communications channel.

In fact, 90 percent of the auto dealerships that manage social media marketing in-house did not respond to negative online reviews and 95 percent did not respond to positive reviews, despite the growing importance placed on reviews by consumers during their dealership selection process.

"This groundbreaking study highlights the importance of social networks and review sites in the car- buying process," said Alexi Venneri, co-founder of Digital Air Strike. "Dealers who work with a social media partner can gain a significant advantage from increases in consumer engagement and related website traffic."

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