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Motor finance lenders mixed on value of social media for car dealers


By Tony Willard

Leading motor finance lenders expect dealers to increase their use of social media to boost loan volumes over the next 12 months.

Samantha Cripps, head of sales development at Alphera Financial Services UK, said: “Within the next year or so, we expect most dealerships to have a passionate social media advocate taking responsibility for managing positive and negative interactions. Social will only work as part of an integrated marketing communications campaign, focused on delivering strong messages and tailored offers.”

    ♦  Read Outsourced or in-house? Social media strategy for car dealers

Cripps said dealers should not underestimate the way people use social media to mobilise responses and prompt engagement, such as recording a Twitter interaction and uploading it to YouTube.

“Most dealers deliver the most appropriate information about a vehicle and funding options. Social media channels provide an extension for this and it is important dealers take the opportunity seriously.”

Paul Kaye, sales and marketing director at Close Motor Finance, said: “Lenders should support dealers’ efforts where possible. Our website has ‘how to’ social media guides with top tips for dealers to make it more effective.”

Kaye said dealers realise social media is a crucial part of their marketing strategy and are embracing it, regardless of age, turnover and region.

“A survey with our dealers found 80% use social media for business, 76% primarily Facebook,” he said. “There’s no point having a page that doesn’t encourage interaction with potential and existing customers and a poor digital presence could mean potential lost sales. The focus should be on a positive customer interaction with the dealer’s social media presence.”

Gerald Grimes, managing director of Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, said: “Consumers live online and use social media as an integral part of their lives – it must be a part of any retail strategy. The growth of mobile connectivity has created a real-time, socially enabled economy and is a key driver to business success. Around 90% of new vehicle buyers use the internet to find model ratings and read reviews on vehicles and dealer service levels.” 

Grimes said dealers should enable shoppers to buy in their showroom, at home or while mobile, and then have the vehicle delivered or available for pick up.

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  • Mike Hind - 17/06/2014 15:37

    It is a big mistake to focus entirely on the supposed revenue/business opportunities offered by social media for motor retailers and allied businesses. Some are very good at engaging in a friendly way that may generate enquiries or even sales, or simply goodwill and a reputation for being 'nice'. Some will make it pay and many won't, but endlessly debating the cash value or otherwise of being active on social media completely misses the point. And - obviously - we all want to drive eyeballs to our websites, so that's a given, But a massive reason for being active on social media - especially Twitter - is to ensure you can deploy reputational shield. Try this: Google a well known brand and the word 'complaint' or 'problem'. The brands/businesses where a negative story appears high in those results are invariably those who do not use social media effectively and are therefore incapable of deploying reputational shield. Now try this: next time you have a problem with a product or service go straight onto Twitter and see how quickly the business behind it takes you offline and into direct communication. That is good housekeeping. And that is the point of social media. If you can develop fabulous viral content that is shared widely, well done you. If you can keep the complaints off the first page of Google, even more well done you.

  • Philip Nothard - 17/06/2014 16:10

    The idea that Social Media is a revenue opportunity, seems to be extremely 'short-sighted', in that you need to consider the whole transparency factor and engagement. Added to this, is the brand awareness, and that people can engage openly with you. It allows openness and in many cases, those that invest 'time' in it - do recover what would have been LOST revenue as oppose to potential revenue.