Dealership Marketing

Who Is Sick Of Hearing About facebook?

facebookfrustratingfacebook is over 6 years old now, but it has only found the mainstream-online-car-industry in the last year or so. In a very short time, in our industry, it has worn out its welcome. Nobody is selling cars off of it and maintaining a facebook page is a waste of time. I just don’t understand why any dealership would want to be on it?

Could it be the wealth of consumers who participate on facebook every day? Could it be the potential to have your message branded to an extra 200 people per each fan your dealership has? Might it be a communication tool with a better chance of having something read than an email (who doesn’t read their direct facebook messages)?

If you’re like me, and capitulated to the requests of a very persistent young blonde woman to get the dealership on facebook, then let me tell you why I’m not sick of hearing about it….not yet anyway.  In our few months on facebook we have created friendships, headlines, philanthropy, controversy, and even some profit!  It has all been fun, but it hasn’t all been easy.

When we first started, fan pages were just coming out. We didn’t know what we were doing, so we started a regular account. We discovered quickly that many people did not want to be friends with a business because that business can see everything inside their profile and photo albums when they’re friends.  However, we were still able to amass over 1,000 friends, but once we broke the 1,000 friends mark we showed up on the facebook policy team’s radar. They shut our account down.  And they were unwilling to allow us to send one message to our friends stating we were moving to a fan page, so we basically had to start all over again.  I’m watching Grant Cardone go through this right now. Dealers – make a fan page. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

facebook is a communication platform.Nothing more, nothing less. It is another telephone, email device; just a point to have direct conversations. Of course, there is the potential to spread the right ad message, but don’t go into it thinking you’re going to be able to advertise unabated. Your fans will squelch you and I’m sure another new facebook policy change is just around the corner. If you do this, you’re a spammer.

facebook isn’t for everyone.

  1. If you plan to start a facebook fan page, but haven’t spent at least 3 months on there with a personal account – don’t.  Sign-up, reconnect with your old high school buddies, become a fan of a few businesses and check the site at least once a week. Get a feel for things before you dive right in.  Figure out what you like to see on there.
  2. If you attack facebook like a lion, put a fan-us icon on your website, and then stop updating you’re going to look like a fool.  The old adage, “”if you’re going to do something, do it right” is fully at play on facebook. One of my favorite competitors has facebook plastered all over his website, but hasn’t updated his fan page since November of 2009.  What does that say to a customer?
  3. Do you like facebook?  If you’re not excited about it, I think you should stay off of it. It takes time and commitment and that requires you honestly asking yourself whether you really want to do it. If there is any leaning toward a “no” then don’t do it. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it.

I have been absolutely shocked by the SEO value facebook has had for us since we got over 1,000 fans. Anything we link is instantly shot up in search results.  Instantly! Some companies will say this is reason enough alone to setup a facebook page, but those companies have a tendency to forget about the content and personal attention an endeavour like this needs. If you have 11 franchises, do you really have the man-power to keep up with all 11 different facebook fan pages as you should?

On the DealerRefresh forums we’ve been asking if facebook has helped sell cars.  So far, almost 60% of the participants have said it has ABSOLUTELY helped them sell cars.  Some tidbits from that thread:

facebook adword campaigns have not yielded great results for anyone.

One dealer is using facebook as a free billboard that has the side benefit of SEO value.

Very proactive vendors are asking why a dealership would block their employees from accessing facebook at work.

DealerRater is seeing more quality traffic from the people who visit from facebook.

My personal thoughts:

facebook isn’t for everyone. If you don’t give it the full effort, you will not receive a full return. Don’t let your vendors tell you that you have to be there – you don’t have to do anything!  I’m leery of companies who will handle facebook for you because there is no way a 3rd party will ever do as well as you can do. If you hire a third party to handle your facebook fan page for you, you’re lazy, unless you’re just using them to help develop a strategy.  Make a fan page – not a regular account!

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
I liked your creative introduction and approach to writing this post. Your argument that dealers should avoid the hard sell on Facebook (or on any social network) is dead on. Unfortunately I have often come across those unwanted ads stating "Stop by TODAY to see this awesome 2004 Chevy with XXX,XXX miles. Only $XX,XXX" on various sites. Talk about a turn off. Instead of the hard sell, dealers need to think of ways to help customers and general public better understand the car buying process, the reasons behind various service requirements, how to improve or better maintain their car and other types of insightful and useful tips.

Good suggestions Alex!

I put together a blog a short time ago regarding social media considerations in the automotive industry and would love feedback:

Great stuff buddy. Really it is. First I am tired of hearing about it because we have other things we need to get back to like actualyl sell cars. I was all about twitter and facebook and all this social networking stuff when I was out of the dealership. After coming back into retail, I am reminded that nothing is more important than making appointments, getting the customer in, and selling cars. Some people wonder why I post a lot less now and don't write like I used to. Well for starters, my job takes up too much of my time. Also, I am going back to basics. Do I still social network? Yes. I write a blog once in a while and I even update my facebook/twitter 1-2 times per day. I put valuable content like car care tips, community information, specials, any anything that is not trying to make me sound like a sales person. Bottom line is, facebook is great to keep your name out there and let the public know that you exist. Okay, you can build relationships. I for one don't mind car dealerships being friends with me on facebook. Let them get to know me. Let them see publicity of my success if any is created. This can be a way to network and land possible future consulting opportunities. If I am ever a vendor, the relationship can help me prospect for business and sell my product. But you are right. It does not sell cars. We sold 1 car from it last month and it is because we paid to have a banner on facebook.
Hey Alex:
Adam here from We help people with their strategies all the time. Dealers come to us with no knowledge of Facebook and we help them get started and then they start using it once they realize its potential. I agree with all of your points but I have to say that there is nothing wrong with assisting somebody in showing them the way.

One great example of this was Mercedes Benz of Austin. We helped them setup some cool apps and they have over 6000 fans.

Let's give those dealers who are new to Facebook a chance. I know they can do it! ;)


  • K
  • February 5, 2010
Great article. I found it to be a great read.

My two cents is that facebook is a great way to advertise, and get name recognition out there. Twitter on the other-hand is a frikken waste of time. Lets say you have 1,000 followers on twitter. Are any of those people going to read all the people they are following's updated..NO NOT AT ALL.

twitter seems like a rant/rage site that's it.
  • D
  • February 5, 2010
Facebook, selling cars?

Unless they have a search engine like Twitter( allow people to search, for example, type "Moore Ford"in twitter search engine, (we have a dealer customer in Moore Oklahoma", he has a Ford), you can see his feed from our API call.

Let say you have 250 fans in facebook, that not enough to generate a sales call.

I see dealer doing stuff like "give $250 away for becoming a fan", I do not see how that can help either.

Our Craigslist tracking show that, sometimes, 1200 people hit a car page on Craigslist, but dealer still told us "How come no one call?"

Mathematically, it is because the likelihood is pretty low for buyer to call. If user base is only 250 fans, who is going to call?

Hava a good weekend!

  • K
    Kristi Alguire
  • February 5, 2010
Alex - I wholeheartedly agree with you on the Fan pages instead of "friend" pages approach. Think of it as a mini-site for the store. People are using Facebook as a search engine and if you're page isn't wide open and able to be seen, you're missing out. Secondly, the content has to be interesting, your fans should look forward to seeing your posts. Heck - I've even put a recipe on there and it got a great reaction from the fans! It's all about engaging and interacting with potential customers so when they (or their friends and family) are looking for a vehicle, parts, or service, they think of your dealership. It's one more way of building relationships, no different than keeping up with people at the local coffe house or breakfast hangout.
If another dealer asks me to be a "friend" on facebook I might go postal (okay, it's not that bad). Dealers..I DO NOT WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND. However, I could quite possibly want to be your "fan".

PLEASE dealers, as Alex states in his a facebook fanpage and NOT a normal fb profile while asking people to be your friend.

If you are not going to give your social efforts 100%, then don't do it. Just don't do it. Dial into the 101 first. There are other avenues of marketing that are WAY easier to manage and will give you a quicker bang for the buck.

"facebook is a communication platform. Nothing more, nothing less." - At the end of the day Sales is what matters, I don't care what business you are in unless it's a non-profit. Yes, I'm all about being a social media douche bag; engaging the customer and "listening" while being a part of the "conversation". Yes, social media is great for creating buzz but it's also a great direct marketing channel. Shot term -- no, well maybe. Long term -- Yes. I was reading a recent study that found that consumers WANT to see promotions and discounts..of course in the right frequency, finding the right balance is the magic.

Become very familuar with facebook, use it yourself on a consistent basis before jumping into it.

Great post Alex!!

Well said, LOL, are you going to NADA?

Sensation this is a good giveaway. I so necessitate this lol. What an enormous awareness you have provided here. I actually resemble it. Gratitude for this well-informed post
  • J
    Jerry Thibeau
  • February 6, 2010

Another 5 star article. You're on a roll this year! I've sent the link to a bunch of dealers I've been trying to get active on facebook.

In the learning phase with FB. Good article! It reinforces my thought that dealerships should use a fan page.
I learn best by doing. Even though there will be mistakes, I am jumping in with 2 feet & making a go of our dealership fan page.
First I thought give them product I'm thinking they can go to factory sites for that.
Will switch to more relevant consumer info & small give aways.
  • E
    Eley Duke
  • February 8, 2010
Hey Alex,
Dead on the money with this, I too see many pages that are annoying with nothing but hard sales tactics and it is a turnoff! With our Duke Automotive page we have taken the approach of simple dialog and updates, we post some videos time to time, update on the weather like last week, and news about Duke and our community. We get some comments, but its really how many times I am out and someone says, “hey, I loved that video on the Cadillac CTS-V you posted to the dealership site” that makes it worth it. I get those comments all the time, and tells me it is doing what Facebook was meant to do, stay in touch with people and be a casual social medium! Great post Alex!!
Thank you for that Alex. Its long overdue that social media is put in its proper place regarding automotive internet marketing.
Alex, I just wanted to say that this was an excellent post! Thank you for making it easier for our dealers to understand how to jump into the world of Facebook! -mb
  • B
    Bob Finger
  • December 3, 2011
Something this
chain is missing is the ability to "control the message.”  Do a quick google search on your dealership,
and you will find people who have reviewed your business.  They are often angry and frustrated and may
post some bad reviews. 

If you have a
facebook page and concentrate on getting customers to post nice things about
you (right after a sale is a great time to get someone to say “I love the new
car I bought at!”).  This does
a great job of balancing out any negative comments, and gives you a forum for
handling customer complaints before they decide to tell the whole world that
they are angry.

networks are here to stay, and the truth is out there. If you are not controlling
or at least monitoring the message, you can be operating with two black eyes
and not even know it.