Study: Social Media a Trusted Source of Reviews for North American Car Buyers

Consumers have long relied on advice and recommendations from others before making purchasing decisions, and Americans today have access to a vast library of customer ratings and reviews that they can consult when deciding if products or services are worth their money.

The automotive dealership is no exception to this, and for the customer, deciding where and when to purchase a car relies on several factors, social media included. A MaritzCX study, titled “The Impact of Social Among Car Buyers,” highlights the growing influence of social media reviews and the numbers may surprise automotive dealerships, and perhaps get them to listen up.

According to the study, 80 percent of respondents consider both positive and negative reviews when deciding on what dealership to visit, with about half of the same group saying the reviews are somewhat or very trustworthy.

“Social media reviews are gaining traction and power in making or breaking purchase decisions for products or entire brands,” MaritzCX automotive vice president Tim Englehart said in a news release. “Accessing and understanding the pulse of customer experience is the game changer to engage with customers, discover insights and deliver on expectations.”

The study reveals social reviews help many choose a dealership. Among respondents, 38 percent said social media reviews influenced their decision on which dealership to visit.

Dealer reviews are sought most frequently on Google, 32 percent, Edmunds at 12 percent, followed by Facebook and DealerRater both at 11 percent. Also, the majority, 80 percent, of people who read reviews consider both positive and negative reviews to inform their decision.

What do these numbers tell us? That dealerships need to accept that the conversation is no longer 100 percent in their hands. Conversations happen about their brand across many different forums, websites and social media networks, with or without them being part of the conversation.

In an era where customers are relying on the experience of others, it behooves dealerships to look at what is being said of them. Instead of focusing exclusively on increasing likes, hearts, and followers, dealerships should attract more feedback and generate more reviews. It’s clear that social media’s growing influence on the consumer research process can impact a dealership’s ability to set prices, drive interest, and increase revenue.

“A CX (customer experience) program can harness untapped potential to encourage reviews from both happy and unhappy consumers,” Englehart said. “Dealers and auto brands that ask for reviews and make it easy to leave reviews are the ones that are going to leave the competition in their dust.”