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Social media: opening a channel to your customers

Dealers should look at getting involved with conversations and expressions of interest for cars on social media and it shouldn’t be seen as interrupting or spying.

Paul Fabretti, Telefonica Group head of social media, told AM: “If someone is openly complaining on the internet about something or expressing a genuine interest with a particular need, they will be happy if you approach on a personal and human level.

“It also depends on your brand personality. You usually have to approach subjects with a bit of humour and respect in equal measures.

“The way you interact should reflect how you are as a business. Don’t force it – you should trust your people if you have hired the right ones. Encourage them to be themselves.”

Coulthurst believes there is often confusion over whether social media is an acquisition or customer relationship management (CRM) tool. He believes there are more opportunities for dealers to use social media for repeat business.

“The key is to engage with your audience; social media should be both fun and memorable,” he said.

“The best piece of advice for ensuring a successful social media promotional campaign is to ask yourself whether you would find it interesting, engaging and insightful if it was being done by your competitor’s brand.

“If you would be jealous that they had come up with the idea and would want to share it around your marketing team, then chances are that you are on to a winner. It is always important to remember that the most successful social media campaigns are not the most expensive to produce, but those which really capture the imagination of the target audience.”

Top Five Tips ...

... for dealers wanting to make the most of social media

1. Schedule Schedule posts via Facebook and Tweetdeck

2. Use video Utilise YouTube to promote stock

3. Promote Grow followers by incentivising your local audience to share your content via competitions

4. Listen Set up alerts and notifications to avoid missing enquiries, opportunities and feedback

5. Update Make sure you are communicating frequently


Social media monitoring: free tools for dealers

Dealers can outsource how they monitor success on social media but there are many free tools available which their internal marketing teams can use too.

Google Alerts Set up alerts to monitor mentions of your business across social media networks.

Tweetdeck/Hootsuite Dealers can monitor all mentions of their business across Twitter and set up key search terms they want to monitor.

Facebook Insights This lets dealers find anonymised demographic data about their audience of customers and see how people are discovering and responding to posts. Dealers can experiment with different types of posts to see what customers respond to best. The page must have at least 30 likes to start using Insights.

YouTube This video service is the second-largest search engine on the internet and has an inbuilt reporting engine from owners Google.


Forums aren’t dead

To some, forums seem a bit outdated but in the automotive world they are still an important part of the social media mix.

According to research from Brandwatch that looked at 7.5 million automotive mentions over six months, conversation was spread relatively evenly across a wide number of areas.

With most industries, brands and topics, online discussion takes place primarily on Twitter, due to the ease, speed and general popularity of the platform. But for automotive conversation, forums account for the largest share (38%) due to consumers’ preference for in-depth conversation requiring more than 140 characters.

The Brandwatch research shows that 16% of 1.2 million mentions on the subject of automotive on social media was related to purchasing. The majority (58%) of this purchasing conversation took place on forums, with a further 16% featuring on blogs.

Analysing the most frequently used words and phrases reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that “test drive” is a commonly used phrase within purchasing conversations, demonstrating that this is an important step in the car-buying process for many consumers.


  • 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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