By: Joey Little
Modern dealerships know the importance of social selling, and that’s because today’s shoppers are primarily social shoppers. Not only do they research and shop online, but they receive a good deal of their insights and opinions from online social sites, review forums, and word-of-mouth referrals. All of these things add up to social shopping, placing the responsibility of getting social squarely on the shoulders of dealerships.
Defining Social Shoppers
Gone are the days of flipping through the Sunday paper and looking through weekly store ads. Sure, they’re still available, but according to just about any source, consumers confirm trusting friends, acquaintances, and even online connections more than brand advertising alone. The same goes for dealerships; rather than wandering onto several lots and browsing, shoppers are increasingly turning to digital devices to do preliminary shopping research. Because people now shop in a vastly different way, businesses—dealerships included—must change how and when they connect with consumers in order to succeed in the modern marketplace.
We live in an age of Buy buttons, Buyable Pins, 24/7 shopping accessibility, and similar conveniences; and while dealerships may not be able to offer shoppers these specific innovations, they can begin to meet them with opportunities that appeal to their needs for expediency, in-the-moment information, and convenience. Thanks to technology, shoppers can get just about anything they want, when they want it, and for the price they want to pay—benefits that are tough to beat.
Online consumers are challenging traditional shopping channels, pushing dealerships to expand into terrain they may not have previously dominated. They are looking for innovation, personalized experiences, and transparency; and they aren’t afraid to look around for brands that can offer those things. That doesn’t mean, however, that dealerships need to be left behind. Instead, shoppers are throwing down a challenge for the automotive industry. Dealerships that are able to meet consumers earlier in their buying journeys and add value to their overall experiences will excel in the modern marketplace.
Here Are the 5 Ways
You may be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to sell cars online?” And that’s a valid question. However, it all goes back to the fact that social consumers are the driving force behind social researching and buying changes. Shoppers have changed, and they are looking for dealerships with a strong online social presence in order to connect and build relationships with them. Here’s how:
- Be findable. Before you can share valuable information and interact with consumers, you’ll need to extend your reach and ensure shoppers know where to find you online. Do research, learn about your audience, and build your platform with your target market in mind.
- Offer value. Online consumers will gravitate toward you when you provide relevant, intriguing content that positions your dealership as the expert in the industry. Be the first to answer important questions, tackle unique topics, and add value to the conversation—and your followers will continue to seek you out.
- Reach out. In addition to sharing quality content, look for influencers who can help get the word out about your dealership. Follow, interact with, and share insights from others who are proponents of your dealership, and keep an eye out for potential brand advocates who can spread the word about your dealership.
- Stay the course. Building an online social network requires dedication and commitment. Your online followers look forward to building relationships with you, so schedule time to interact regularly with them. By doing so, you’ll earn more brand recognition for your dealership.
- Socialize. It may sound redundant, but social media is all about being social. Don’t log on just long enough to throw content out to your followers and then exit. Instead, hang around, interact, and have meaningful conversations with consumers who are likely discussing your content and your dealership via social media. The more present and interactive you are, the more you’ll stand out as a leader in the industry.
Today’s customers have changed the landscape for dealerships. Not only are they looking for the best deals and the best vehicle choices, but they’re also able to begin their research well before they ever set foot on a lot. For dealerships, this has created a challenge, but as everyone knows, the automotive industry has always been known for its innovative spirit and drive. With a focus on the new buying journeys of today’s consumers and a commitment to building strong social selling platforms, dealerships can successfully adapt their selling practices to match the needs of today’s modern shoppers.
Bio: Joey Little serves as Director of Digital and Social Engagement for AutoAlert. An expert in customer experience management, he educates automotive professionals at speaking engagements across the country. With results-driven advice and proven industry knowledge, he assists dealerships in reaching their audiences and increasing business via their social platforms.