The Conundrum of ‘The Social Media Conundrum’

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in Social Media

by Sage

Sometime last week an article from The Canadian Auto World was forwarded to various members of the Sage Crew from the owner of the our company.  As we have a large number of auto dealer clients we try to keep our ear to the to ground of what is happening in the automotive industry.

The article itself can be found on the Canadian Auto World site or you can download the PDF in case it is no longer available at the site.

The article sparked a bit of email back and forth between our various staff about social media and the auto industry, but for me the tough part was the generalizations about social media based on the writers personal perception of why the Auto Industry should not use. It was decided that my email  response would make for an interesting post:

The one thing I took away from this article was the fact that quite often people make sweeping generalizations about social media (and quite often the web in general) based on how they view and use the web. The one thing I have learned is that no two people use the web in the same way (watch your wife or kids use Google). From the article:

“…everyone I know that logs on to social media does so to check out their friends, find out about last night’s party or make plans for the next one. They slink around profiles looking for pictures and information, which person is dating that person, where did they go on vacation.”

I wonder if he even surveyed his friends, or if he just made that observation based on his gut instinct and knowledge of his friends behaviours. It may be true that this is how his circle of friends use Social Media, but his friends are not an accurate cross section of the “500 Million.” I myself, and my friends (if he can speak for his circle of friends I can speak for mine) use the social web for those items, but we also talk to each other and ask questions about products, services, and recommendations. In fact I had a friend that recently bought a minivan and did most of their researching through Twitter and Facebook. I know that Chris Burdge did some heavy Social Media research when he was looking to purchase a vehicle.

So Jackson Hayes is guilty of a common theme where a person believes that everyone uses the web in the same way. There may be a large number of pocket groups that use the social web as he has described, but there are also pocket groups that do use the social web to do their shopping, and yes even car shopping (Have you met Dave? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl9fvn8c_Eo).

Despite the fact that there may not be much perceived value to follow a social media presence for a dealerships, Chris and I are both testaments to the fact that there are people that shop for cars through the social web. Sure we may not make our final buying decision through this avenue, but we do start with the online community.

I am sure that Jim Galand now disagrees with Jackson Hayes: http://bwest.ca/blog/car-dealerships-social-media-and-purchase-process

I think Chris also makes a valid point that they view the social web as just another print ad. If that is how dealerships are using the social web, then yes their social media campaign will be an amazing fail. They need to use it as a… wait for it… social and community building tool.

Interestingly enough I see that Jackson Hayes works for a company called metroland.com which looks to be a media company. Huh?

Share your thoughts!