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Friday, February 17, 2012

Dealers Listing Cars on Facebook

A new article was published today about the use of Facebook by retailers to promote their products. The original article is here and it got me thinking.

Car dealers are becoming more and more interested in promoting their dealerships on Facebook because let's face it, pretty much everyone is on Facebook. It's free, and there are hundreds of millions of people using the site regularly. While most successful dealers have at least set up a business page on Facebook and use it to interact with customers, other dealers use it to try and actually sell their vehicles to their followers/fans.

Some website providers these days offer to build a "tab" on the dealer's Facebook page which lists their entire inventory, just like their own website. The thinking is that potential customers (or anyone who "likes" the dealer's page) will click on that tab and browse their inventory. They feel that people will browse inventory on Facebook instead of actually going to the dealer's site and do it there. I personally have never bought into this, and today an article came out that suggests the same thing. (see the original article by clicking here).

On some levels it makes sense to market vehicles this way. If the people are there, then why not, right? Well the article I referenced quoted an analyst as saying for companies trying to sell their products through these means, "it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar." Furthermore, people would need to actively seek out the vehicle information, whereas the entire philosophy of Facebook is to push content to the user, so they don't need to seek it out. This is why we offer a different service to our clients where individual vehicles are posted to the dealer's Facebook wall. This way they actually show up in the fans news feed and get exposure. It's important to limit the frequency of these sort of posts, but that's another article for another day.

If major retailers like Gamestop, Gap, J.C. Penny, and Nordstrom have all pulled the plug on these Facebook storefronts, I have to think there's some validation to my beliefs. I know I don't shop on Facebook for anything. Sure, I may visit a retailer's page to see if they have any promotions going on or to see what other shoppers are saying about them, but if I want to buy something I head to the retailers own website. Getting people to change the way they shop online can happen, but I personally don't think it's going to happen anytime soon, and Gamestop (and the others) have proven that point as far as I'm concerned.

I'm curious to hear comments from others, but I'm especially curious to hear from car dealers (or salespeople) who have tried the inventory tab on their company Facebook page. Has it worked for you? Do you know how its use compares to your other Facebook activity in generating leads?


corey said...

I'm not a dealer. Instead, a developer of one of these facebook page tab apps that you discuss. Also interesting: I don't have a personal facebook account.

Perhaps the big retailers' product inventories make the facebook app a fairly complex piece of software that requires a lot of time. If our facebook app required a lot of attention, we might not just lump it in with other services we provide to dealers (or continue offering it at all).

You say, "I know I don't shop on Facebook for anything. Sure, I may visit a retailer's page to see if they have any promotions going on or to see what other shoppers are saying about them..." I call that shopping!

Jake said...

Valid point Corey. The big retailers may have much more invested (time, developers, marketing, etc.) in a FB app than what you or I see on a regular basis. I still believe, however, that users of sites like FB aren't using it as their primary place to shop these retailers because it doesn't add many (if any) benefits over the companies full websites. If anything, I feel it's a place to research what people are saying about the companies more than comparing what products they're offering. I will admit though that I'm not your typical shopper, nor do I use social media much on a personal level.

David Jenkins said...

There are advantages to using a variety of technologies. As Corey mentioned facebook and other resources can be tools for engaging people. Regardless, it's interesting to see the varying approaches to sales some dealerships are taking.

Rorie said...

I have still not seen many dealers, with the new Facebook timeline using these tools such as stockbook.

Now because you can choose 4 apps to be immediately displayed dealers should be displaying Facebook tabs that allow you to look at all of their stock, immediately without leaving facebook.

I could imagine the timeline changes have improved the rates that people click on these tabs and it would be good to see some examples of dealers doing so.

Derek White said...

I agree with you! We must admit, that the effective approach in modern marketing strategies is simply through using the internet and inbound sale concept... creating blogs.. and like you have said.. social medias like facebook...etc..
Before customers could reach a certain auto shops.. they might have been interested in what they have seen on a website, and just drop by to confirm the details...

Derek White said...

"Nice post... Thanks for emphasizing that important detail in dealing with car sales and how important a complete yet balanced and logical ways to make a customer buy the products that you are selling...
I also agree that the word ""I want to think about it"", usually means
they are looking for something that is far beyond what you sell."

Sam @ automotive lights said...

Well Jake, I strongly agree with your point. Facebook is a “social site” but when it comes to shopping or buying, money is greatly involved which means legal transactions needs to take place. Though, I’m not trying to say that Facebook is not a reliable website. To be on the safe side if you decide to buy something it is so much better go directly to the product’s official page.