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Social media: opening a channel to your customers

The microblogging site has become the new call centre, according to Palmer. Most call centres are measured on a cost per call basis and are tasked with resolving an issue as quickly as possible.

However, dealers shouldn’t try to stop the conversation on Twitter, but instead continue a dialogue.

Smith said: “If a customer does take to social media to criticise a dealership, the best thing a dealer can do is be seen – publicly – to act in a speedy, polite and effective manner.

“This might take the form of answering a tweet or responding to a comment via Facebook by asking the customer to send a direct message to the dealership so that they can receive a call back. This demonstrates to followers that you take problems seriously and seek to deal with them promptly.”

Dealers should also aim to be transparent, only removing offensive comments or those that name a specific member of staff in a negative manner.


Selling on social media

The overwhelming message from consumers is that pushing sales is not the way to gain interaction.

Smith told AM: “Social media can be viewed as a marketing tool, but dealers shouldn’t try to use it for the hard sell.

“It is an easy and convenient means of conversing with consumers on their terms and, when used effectively, is particularly valuable for brand-building and for fostering productive customer engagement.”

But will it generate revenue? That is a hard question to answer – it is often difficult to link a return on sale figure directly. How much value should a dealer put behind increased customer interaction? Some are selling directly on Twitter, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Kristin Brewe, Interactive Advertising Bureau director of marketing and communications and Social Media Council chair, told AM that using its reporting tools, it linked every £1 spent on social media with a return of £3 on campaigns for Heinz, Kettle chips and Tate.

These brands and how they relate to their customers are admittedly quite different from the dealership experience, but Brewe is confident that there are robust reporting tools available to link spending on social media to a tangible return.

Brewe said: “Discipline is essential in monitoring a return. There are still the traditional metrics of valuing an audience you have.”

  • Social media will be discussed in depth at AM's Digital Dealer Conference on September 12 at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, to book, please contact Nicola Baxter on 01733 468289 or email or visit

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