The key for automotive retail companies to perform successfully on social media boils down to one area: customer service. The way they distinguish themselves from their competition has a lot to do with excelling in terms of convenience and location.
Nowadays, many aspects of customer service, such as handling complaints, providing feedback and interacting with clients, happen on social media platforms. Car retailers have been in the social space for a couple of years now, keeping up-to-date with consumers’ purchasing behaviour and acting correspondingly to serve their constantly changing needs.
While social media is gradually becoming the norm amongst dealers, many of them are still failing to make the most of the medium. Statistics reveal that not all of them are managing their online profiles effectively, Andly Coulthurst of Motor.co.uk told AM Online. While dealers are performing well when it comes to Twitter profile creation to promote their offers and stock, some are still failing to take advantage of inbound enquiries. This highlights the need to regularly monitor social media to make sure social platforms are not just a one-way source of information. This can help dealers capitalise on any potential deal.
Tracking conversations on social media also allows auto retailers to react to negative comments or complaints from discontented customers who could harm their reputation. Many of these comments now appear on Twitter. This micro-blogging site has quickly evolved to become “the new call centre”, as Giles Palmer, from social media monitoring company Brandwatch, puts it. But stopping such conversations on social media would be wrong, he warns, suggesting that continuing a dialogue is the better option. If a customer criticises a dealer on social media, the company must respond quickly, politely and effectively in a way that can be seen by others. That way, the dealer will demonstrate that they take the issue seriously and want to cope with it immediately. Auto retailers are advised to delete only offensive remarks and comments that name a specific worker in a negative fashion.
In order to reap the full benefits of social media, dealers are recommended to always schedule posts on Facebook or Twitter to keep customers engaged. They could also deploy YouTube to promote their offerings and try to grow followers by providing incentives to users who share their content. In order to stay in tune with customers’ needs, they could also use alerts and notifications to track missing enquires and feedback.
Forums are also a good platform for dealers to communicate with clients. While they might seem outdated to some, they are still a critical component of the social media mix. This is evident from research by Brandwatch, examining 7.5 million auto mentions over a six-month period, in which conversation was spread roughly equally across a broad number of areas. Around 16% of 1.2 million mentions on social media concerned auto purchasing, with the bulk (58%) taking place on forums and another 16 on blogs. Forums still hold the lion’s share (38%) in auto dealers’ marketing mix given customers’ partiality for becoming involved in extensive conversations with retailers.