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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Car Dealer Reputation Management Builds Customer Trust

Building Car Buyer Trust Through Automotive Brand Monitoring

JULY 1, 2010

Using Social Media to Get involved in the Dealer's community—the right way

According to Datran Media, nearly three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies and other top media and advertising firms around the world had a Twitter account in December 2009, and that proportion has likely risen since then. For Automotive Marketers at both the car company and dealer levels, the hope is that involvement in the microblogging site can bring them closer to their consumers and help them be part of conversations that build trust and brand engagement with either the make of vehicles they sell, or the dealership.

Research from Fleishman-Hillard suggests increased trust among car buyers and service customers of dealership will vary. While internet users that are focused on vehicle service and repairs overwhelmingly felt more comfortable with companies that microblog, new car  shoppers in North America and the UK were more difficult to impact.

Change in Trust Level Toward Companies with a Microblog, Jan 2010 (% of internet users in select countries)

One problem could be that while there is high awareness of microblogging, usage is much lower. Edison Research found thatwhile 87% of US consumers had heard of Twitter, only 7% used it. A car dealer's presence on Twitter may mean little to car shopping internet users who have not taken part in the 140-character craze.

There was a more positive response toward the idea of car dealers monitoring microblogs for dealer-related sales and service customer experience discussions. Across all segments studied, a majority of internet users said they would be happy that a car dealer or car company was listening to them and responding to the problems the tweet about.

Attitude Toward Companies Monitoring Microblogs, Jan 2010 (% of internet users in select countries)

However, there was also the potential for mistrust. Among new vehicle shoppers, about a fifth of respondents didn't believe car dealers were sincere about brand monitoring and that it was all for show. A similar number thought brand monitoring had a creepy element and that car dealers, manufacturers and automotive marketers might be effectively eavesdropping on private conversations—public though they may be.

One way for automotive marketing professionals to avoid concerns like these is to connect with brand advocates for the makes of vehicles they represent and depend on loyal dealership customers and fans to respond to any negative buzz issues, rather than using the company Twitter account to address every concern. Automotive consumers tend to trust the voices of their peers, and a defense from a satisfied dealership customer may be more persuasive and authentic to a car buyer or service customer.

[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPhone]

Ralph Paglia
Director - Digital Marketing
ADP Dealer Services
cell: 505-301-6369 
RPaglia@Gmail.com