While you’re busy selling a car, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one selling to your customers. Automakers, consumer advocates, friends and family and even strangers play a big role in influencing customers’ purchasing decisions, with the latter playing a sometimes outsized role thanks to social media. (A study conducted by CMO Council two years ago found that at least a quarter of car shoppers use social media in the car shopping process.) For this reason, it’s becoming clear that those who want to sell cars must take the role of social media in the process seriously.
Cars.com, which is now the second-largest automotive classified site in the world, recently announced it would be embracing social selling more fully with the debut of Social Sales Drive, a new feature that enables car sellers to integrate their Cars.com used car listings with Facebook Marketplace, the social media giant’s classified feature used by millions of Americans every day for everything from clothing and antiques to houses and cars. Facebook is twice as efficient as paid search in directing active car shoppers to a dealership’s web site, with those visitors engaging with inventory and special deals. When Marketplace is used regularly, it can help dealers accelerate every phase of the purchase lifecycle, from raising brand favorability, to selling more cars, to increasing visits to the service bay, according to the social media giant.
Social Sales Drive uses artificial intelligence (AI) “chatbot” technology to power conversations with car shoppers and capitalize on off-hour shopping via Facebook Messenger. (A chatbot is an automated customer support rep that answers questions and directs customers to the right place based on natural language processing. The best part is that, unlike human agents, chatbots work round-the-clock.) Cars.com said it realized during beta testing that more than 50 percent of car buyers on Facebook Marketplace wanted to interact after business hours.
“Social is a must-have for automotive dealers with the increasing amount of time people spend on social media and their desire for a shopping experience that meets them where they are,” said Alex Vetter, chief executive officer of Cars.com, in a statement. “The combination of powerful Cars.com advertising and targeting with the efficiency of social as a selling channel is a win-win for dealers and manufacturers. Cars.com is innovating at the speed of retail and leading the way for social selling in automotive.”