Revamping Your Dealership's Online Reputation
By Anthony Valdelamar
If your dealership is not capitalizing on social media, you are falling behind. Social media has taken the world by storm ever since its proliferation in the early 2010s. Brought upon by the smartphone entering the mainstream, social media managed to gain a strong foothold in a consumer’s daily consumption of news and media over the years, and if neglected, is a market not being utilized to its full potential. Digital Air Strike is a company dedicated to the automotive social media and digital engagement sector, and according to the latest findings from their 8th Annual Automotive Digital Retailing Consumer Trends Study in 2020, 62% of sales customers said they “chose a dealership SOLELY based on online search and reviews,” which saw an increase of 47% from 2019. We are seeing an annual upward trend of people becoming increasingly reliant on the internet when choosing which vehicle to purchase, and which dealership to purchase from. There are different online platforms for dealerships to capitalize on, such as Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Twitter, Tik-Tok, Google reviews, Yelp, and many more. The first step in capturing this market is to increase EXPOSURE. To secure followers, you have to put your dealership out there. You cannot capitalize on social media without a following, and you cannot secure that following unless people know who you are. You have to improve your efforts in outreach, engagement, and response time in order to benefit from positive exposure. Second, you have to make sure your REPUTATION online is maintained. This means you have to monitor what your dealership’s customers and their reviews on Yelp and Google are saying.
Revamping your social media will potentially attract an untapped customer base who are seriously contemplating a vehicle purchase. Dealerships need to produce valuable and engaging content that will improve exposure of the dealership’s brand and inventory. One of the ways you can improve in branding and creating engaging content is to highlight the dealership’s culture and commitment through high quality and creative marketing videos. Advertising campaigns provided through social media platforms can be an easy and effective way to increase exposure. However, it is important to PLAN a strategy to create INNOVATIVE and ENGAGING content. Producing abysmal marketing on social media is essentially a waste of time. Appealing to a customer’s sense of emotions and creating entertaining viral content are keys to bringing positive exposure to a dealership which then translates to increased customer traffic and sales. Dancing Kia hamsters are a lot more engaging than two dealership owners providing a voice over to a 15 second clip of dull dealership b-roll footage. Keep in mind, the coined phrase “all publicity is good publicity” does not necessarily ring true for dealerships.
In addition to attracting a customer base, you have to MAINTAIN the cleanest dealership reputation possible. Social media can bring customers to your dealership, but ultimately, an exceptional product and customer experience will make them stay. According to the study published by Digital Air Strike in 2020, more than 50% of surveyed car buyers said social media and review sites, such as Facebook, Yelp and Google Reviews, were the most helpful in choosing a dealership. It is imperative for dealerships to strive to always deliver top customer service. The human mind is wired and inclined to share personal experiences with each other. Buying vehicles is considered a big financial decision, and people are willing to do more research into which venue they are buying the vehicle from and into the product that they are interested in buying. Therefore, it is important for dealerships to monitor the reviews that are being posted about them online on these mediums. If dealerships come across a bad review online, they should plan an immediate course of action and respond to the reviewer to MITIGATE the damage and bad reputation the review will cause. Prospective customers will read these reviews and think twice about even stepping foot into your dealership; bad reviews WILL deter potential customers from coming into your dealership. These reviews can help management detect weaknesses in the customer experience they provide and should not be viewed as a burden.
Using social media correctly and effectively can reap huge rewards. However, trying different methods through trial and error can be a waste of time and funds. We recommend hiring a digital marketing agency or a dedicated social media professional for your dealership team who will focus on monitoring negative feedback, encourage good customer reviews, reduce expenses spent on social media, properly analyze demographics, and forecast the best tailored content to ultimately maximize customer traffic and revenue.