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Buyers will travel farther to buy cars with positive online reviews

November 9, 2012
A positive online review of a dealership can draw a wider radius of potential car buyers, according to a new study of more than 1,600 car buyers and 600 dealerships by Digital Air Strike.
In releasing the results of its Fall 2012 Automotive Social Media and Reputation Trend Study, the automotive social media, online reputation and lead-generation management firm said it found that nearly 70 percent of recent car buyers said online review sites influenced their choice of dealership.
Review sites, dealership websites and Facebook were named as the top three most influential digital mediums used to help buyers make their dealership selection. And the study, as have several other reports of late, also found that car buyers are increasingly using social media in the vehicle purchasing process.
Dealership Facebook fan counts are up, according to the study, with the average count rising to 719 likes, up from 560 likes in April.
When visiting dealer Facebook sites, buyers cited their top five most valuable items as dealership service promotions such as coupons or discounts; pictures of cars; sales promotions; reviews from consumers about the dealership; and articles about cars and/or car care tips.
And car buyers who are using photo/video sharing social networks named the top five used as YouTube at 70 percent; Pinterest at 21 percent; Flickr at 18 percent; Instagram at 17 percent; and Photobucket at 14 percent.
“The study found evidence that car dealers who actively engage in social media and reputation management have the potential to increase both their market share and their market reach,” said Alexi Venneri, co-founder of Digital Air Strike.
Many car buyers also noted they were willing to drive long distances to purchase vehicles from dealers with positive online reviews: 24 percent said they would drive 30 miles to a dealer with positive reviews, 15 percent said they would drive as far as 40 miles, and 31 percent said they would drive 50 miles or more.
The study noted that more than three quarters, or 77 percent, of dealers’ Facebook fans live within a 50-mile radius, which could make it a valuable targeted marketing tool for dealers.
The firm’s biannual study included an in-depth analysis of how 600 U.S. dealers use social media, and an online survey of 1,600 consumers who bought a car in the last six months.