NEW YORK — Social media and mobile access have an overwhelming influence over the consumer decision journey associated with a vehicle purchase, concluded a new study commissioned by Starcom Media Vest Group and led by its social media agency Big Fuel. The findings point to a new automotive purchasing model the two firms said could unlock new and expanded marketing opportunities for dealers.

The study used advanced social listening and conversation segmentation to analyze more than 10 million automotive conversations and other consumer engagements. Over a 12-month period, data was collected from social media platforms including Twitter, public Facebook posts, blogs, forums, YouTube and blogs.

Study Findings and Implications for Marketers

Finding No. 1: One of the emerging trends the study identified was how social media has expanded the “during purchase” phase, which the firms say reflects the rise of social check-ins and status updates via mobile devices and the addition of a “post purchase satisfaction and dissatisfaction” stage.

Implication: The firms said this creates new messaging and brand experiences. It also means dealers may need to consider adding dedicated brand ambassadors or customer service representatives to monitor social media sites for post-purchase dissatisfaction.

Finding No. 2: People in the U.S. market are having conversations about their auto purchase journey, on average, 30,000 times per day, 1,250 times per hour and 21 times per minute on social media. Twitter alone generated 184 million potential impressions per day.”

Implication: Use the social data to amplify the impact of all marketing activity based upon learnings from listening and measurement.

Finding No. 3: The single largest type of conversation in the new journey resides in the “consideration” phase at 29 percent. Brands not included in this phase rarely make it to the final stage of the auto purchase journey.

Implication: Influence make and model decisions by managing the copy rotations and media placement decisions. Align copy and placement to when and where the “consideration phase” conversation is taking place when launching new models.

Finding No. 4: “Declaration of purchase” represents 19 percent of total conversation. People feel compelled to show off their new cars to their social networks and express how excited they are to have taken ownership. When declaring their car purchases, new owners are 2.4 times more likely to attach a photo of their new car to add visual appeal to the excitement than to check-in or self-identify as at a dealership.

Implication: Utilize social direct marketing during the much larger-than-expected “declaration of purchase” phase. Connect with consumers in a meaningful way by offering relevant added value benefits and amplifying the joy generated by the purchase to other potential buyers in the area. Advanced photo tracking can help automate this process in order to scale effectively.

Finding No. 5: “Post purchase satisfaction” conversation occurs three times more often than post purchase dissatisfaction conversation. When discussing dissatisfaction, conversation tends to be more passionate and has higher levels of emotion than in positive conversation.

Implication: Continuing the relationship and the “post purchase satisfaction” conversations with buyers can potentially lead them through to their next purchase journey. The balance of emotion vs. rational statements suggest the relationship gets stronger and can be optimized via extended conversation and relationship marketing.  

“These findings identify opportunities for marketers to engage at pivotal times in the purchase funnel,” says Laura Desmond, global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group. “It gives us the insights needed to connect with real-time, contextually relevant content that can positively drive engagement and influence at various purchasing stages. From customer service and offering timely added-value benefits, to optimizing scheduling media placements for when and where the conversation is taking place, the findings identified clear implications and opportunities for marketers engaging through social.”