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Car Buyers Using Social Media, Online Reviews, Study Shows

June 11, 2013

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Online dealer reviews on social media networks are now playing a bigger role in the dealership selection process, according to Digital Air Strike’s Spring 2013 Automotive Social Media and Reputation Trend Study.

The bi-annual study included an in-depth analysis of how 650 U.S. dealers use social media, as well as an online survey of 2,000 consumers who purchased a vehicle in the last six months. The majority of car buyers said they consider review sites as “helpful” in their dealership selection process. The study also found that 24 percent of consumers consider online review sites to be the “most helpful” factor, exceeding all other factors, including the 15 percent of car buyers who consider dealership websites “most helpful.”

The study also showed that review sites are becoming increasingly important in organic search. Eighty-one percent of car buyers who use review sites said they look at review scores in search results. The dealer component of the study revealed that, on average, five review sites show up in search results.

Car buyers use the Top 5 sites 13 percent more than just six months ago. The most popular review sites were Cars.com (61 percent, previously 55), Edmunds.com (54 percent, previously 50), Google+ Local (37 percent, previously 44), Yelp (14, no change), and Yahoo (11 percent, no change) — the same rank order as the October 2012 study.

The study also revealed that there is a 43 percent probability that a consumer will search for a local dealer on Facebook using Facebook’s new Graph Search. Additionally, 67 percent of car buyers search for local business using mobile devices, with 41 percent having “checked-in” to a local business using their mobile device.

Additional Facebook findings include:

• There is a 59 percent probability that a consumer will trust a review from a Facebook friend vs. reviews on other sites.

• Twenty-seven percent of car buyers click on mobile ads on Facebook.

• There is a 45 percent probability that a consumer will view the dedicated feed for brands in the forthcoming Facebook News Feed.

• Clicks on automotive dealership Facebook ads more than doubled from October 2012 to April 2013 — from 16 percent up to 39 percent.

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