Dealership Marketing

Doing Twitter the Wrong Way

This post originally appeared on J.D. Power Automotive Online Review and has been re-posted here on DealerRefresh with permission. Posted by Amit Aggarwal.

Why would someone follow your dealer on Twitter?

Last year, I asked “Why would I follow a dealer on Twitter?” My premise was that people will follow someone on Twitter if they can get something out of it. Too often, dealers were just pushing specials and not giving people a reason to follow them. As a counter example, Courtesy Hyundai of Georgia (@HyundaiAtlanta) regularly tweets car care tips, a topic that has the potential to draw followers who will then also receive other information about the dealer and may choose to participate in conversations.

Seven months later, Courtesy Hyundai continues to mix tweets regarding car care, Hyundai vehicles, industry data, and dealer information and now reaches 2,364 followers. The tone is conversational and there’s clearly a person behind the account as evidenced by the tweet frequency – nearly all tweets come during work hours.


Contrast this approach with that of East Coast Automall (@NISSANandVW), shown below. The account produces over 17 daily tweets at a constant frequency throughout the entire day. Who wants to receive automated tweets at 4am? There’s almost no conversation, with few replies or retweets.


@NISSANandVW (and related accounts @NewJerseyNissan and @TriStateVW) each have over 23k followers, which seems to have been achieved by following anyone who’ll follow back, even those accounts that are essentially telemarketing / spam. This boosts one’s follower count, but accomplishes little else.

Fortunately, East Coast Automall seems to be in the minority. Other dealers on Twitter at least attempt to use the medium in a productive way.

The tweet cloud for Suzuki of Wichita (@suzukiofwichita) demonstrates the warmth of personal interaction, with words like happy, congratulations, thanks, and welcome showing up frequently. @suzukiofwichita also frequently links to other social media content (e.g. Facebook, YouTube)


Richmond Ford (@richmondford) hasn’t tweeted since November 2009, but still has 8,867 followers. The historical tweet stream shows a lot of brand content, especially retweets from @Ford.


While there may be no one “right” way to use Twitter, there are clearly some wrong ways. I’ve highlighted some dealers with large followings, most of who seem to offer something of value to their followers. If you can’t do that at a minimum, then don’t do it at all.

How is your dealer using twitter and is it working?

Twitter is one big electronic Macarena. It is a glorified email listserv. It is a broadcast media channel in an age where we have too much information. We need more focused and personal information, which Twitter will never be.

The major proponents of Twitter are social media gurus who are trying to sell services. Nothing a car dealer can tell a random consumer (remember, generic broadcast message, no personalization) has any value to the consumer.

Twitter is a fad because it plays to people's egos that they are somehow important - people care what I have to say and follow me and I am in the know by following other people.

Twitter may have brief value to help SEO but Google is not stupid. When they track that Twitter blasts are not creating interactions they will devalue all Twitter content and feeds.

The only thing an auto dealer should do in monitor Twitter feeds to occasional see what consumers are saying about the dealership using dealer keywords, just like watching your Yelps.
Twitter as well as other social media is now a necessary evil. For every dealer that does not use Twitter to reach out to potential clients there are 10 more that do. Dealers need to social media effectively if for no other reason just to compete.....
@Jeff - thanks for reposting Amit's original; should serve as a gentle nudge for many.

@Stan - Twitter as a brand may be a fad, however "micro-blogging" the medium will never go away. While many do, in fact, use it to feed their hungry, hungry egos, just as many smart users are using it to play on the egos of their customers & visitors. Making these people feel important, special & unique - in real time - is a powerful thing.

Why would a customer fill out a comment card when they can post a FB/Twitter update and fire off instant feedback. They also realize the potential for receiving instant response/resolution.

Brand management may be a great use for twitter - but its not the only one, there are others: brand awareness, driving traffic to add'l web properties, answering questions, scheduling test drives, service updates, etc...
Both are great comments - but has Twitter really helped you sell more cars or create more service RO's? Really??? Yes, we do Twitter, we started very early on, and we primarily try to communicate useful information or posts from our blog. With that said, my experience is that most people are more concerned with how many people are following them on Twitter rather than what folks have to share with them. I feel we get more SEO benefit than anything, yet I agree with Stan, those benefits will likely diminish as Twitter slowly loses popularity...
There are a number of ways dealers aren't doing Twitter or social media correctly. How many dealerships have you seen redesign their website highlighting their Facebook Fan pages and Twitter account but upon clicking over, there has been zero activity on either channels? As a consumer who gets excited about possibly reaching out to local merchants on a personal level, it becomes very frustrating to know that no one is actually listening on the other end.

Unfortunately the ones that are doing Twitter right are still in the very small minority. Most are still shouting their Tweets into an empty room or worse yet not even monitoring the room at all after announcing their presence.

Twitter allows your customers to see your business as a three-dimensional being. Just like those who would avoid the broken record guy at networking meetings, you won't get much luck building genuine relationships if all you do is repeat your sales pitch and specials. Don't worry about your follower counts but do let the Twitterverse know about general car care tips, service recalls, community philanthropy that your particular dealership is doing and occasionally help out someone who needs help deciding between one car or another.

Don't jump into social media just because everyone else is doing it. Do it if you are prepared to put some hours behind it. If you dive into social media w/o any support or care, it would be like telling the world you are adding new lots all over the area w/o every filling those new lots with cars or sales people. It just looks bad...
I agree that Twitter is a side-note within our marketing strategy we should not ignore. And since it takes so little time to attend to, it's not an energy hog but requires a share-and-tell attitude. I find interesting articles and tidbits and share them, quite easily I might add with the 'share' button on the Google tool bar I have on Firefox.