If Car Salesmen Can Test Drive Social Media, So Can You.

The new leather smell and V8 engines shouldn’t be the only things enticing customers to cars.

Car dealerships should be engaging and interacting with potential customers online before they’re in the store. Social Media can make the process easier, build brand loyalty, and trust with customers.

These days everyone is a salesperson – especially car salespeople! More should be selling themselves (and therefore building their car dealersips brand) on social. Here are some ways car dealerships can test drive social media:

1. Use Hashtags

Hashtags (#) mark keywords or topics in a tweet – and they can be used in real time.

Clicking on a hashtagged word in a tweet shows all other tweets marked with that keyword. I tweeted using the hashtag #cars in a tweet to see what response I’d get. Crickets. Maybe the topic of “cars” is too general, but the context of my tweet is pretty specific – that I’m in the market for a new car. Tweeting with hashtags is prime targeting for the majority of car dealerships today.

2. Use Geolocation

Targeting local car buyers in real time is a must today. And I don’t see how this is any creepier than getting a direct mail advertising campaign for a new car.

For example, I recently received three direct-mail letters from car dealerships trying to sell me a new car. Since I only check my snail mail about once per month, this is a huge marketing fail.

Local car dealerships targeting me online have a much better chance of getting my business. And it’s slightly less creepy than random marketers knowing my home address.

Online targeting can only lead to more engaged interactions online and increased sales. And it’s just a little more accessible than that wacky inflatable dude who is too tall to talk to.

3. Open up any barriers

The car buying process can be overwhelming and confusing. Tell us facts we can relate to. Like:

  • When is the best time to come into your store?  And don’t just tell people store hours. Tell them the less busy times to encourage buyers to come into your store at particular hours when they won’t have to wait.
  • Will special deals or promotions be going away?
  • When will my salesperson will be there? (even better if these salespeople have their own professional Twitter handles).

4. Personality Injection

Do you know people who are infatuated with cars? Make these folks brand advocates and recruit other key influencers.

Putting faces behind a huge brand name adds personality. And they don’t need to be a celebrity. Any ordinary Joe with a great personality and passion for cars works wonders. Think about what comes to mind with the Mercedes, Ferrari and Porsche?  What do Toyota, Saab and Volvo stand for? Use key influencers of these brands to engage potential buyers.

The personality of Lexus is “perfection.”

5. Surprise!!!

Don’t make the car buying process only an in-store experience. Run local deals on Twitter and Facebook.

Buyers want to know about the latest deals – but they’re smarter than letting shoddy advertising get them into the store. Using social media channels to target buyers will lead to more customers in your store. Plus, it builds a local community of advocates.

David Parkinson, head of social and digital engagement at Nissan for EMEA and India, believes that working with the manufacturer is the trick. He says “it’s an easier situation for dealer groups, who have an identity separate from the Nissan brand to build, and a base of local customers to keep within their own brand by feeding them with info, deals and general support.”

6. Ask Questions

Don’t simply apologize for bad behavior. Ask what part of the customer service experience wasn’t up to par.

An apology can go a long way. But engaging with an unhappy customer by asking why it wasn’t a good experience goes even further. The customer wants to know that their bad experience won’t happen again should they decide to give you a second chance.

Following up with a “what exactly happened?” shows the customer you’re looking to improve customer service. plus there’s more of a chance the customer will give the dealership a second chance.

  • What are some creative ways that you’ve seen car dealerships entice buyers? 
  • Do you think this advice works for your industry as well?