Friedman-Swift Associates: Does Facebook Work for Auto Dealerships?

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Market Research Sheds Light on New Car Buyers and Social Networking

CINCINNATI--Nov. 2, 2012: More than one in four new car buyers visit social networking sites at least weekly, according to research released today by Friedman-Swift Associates, a national market research firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

"Twenty-eight percent of people who purchase new cars visit social networking sites at least once a week," says Jeff Friedman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Friedman-Swift Associates. "By far, the most frequently visited social networking site is Facebook."

Of new car buyers who use sites like Facebook weekly or more often, 77 percent say they do not participate in any commercial activity on the site.

Nearly one in seven--14 percent--new car buyers who visit social networking sites like Facebook at least once a week look at advertisements there. This represents about 4.5 percent of all new car buyers, according to Friedman.

The number of new car buyers who connect with auto dealerships on Facebook is even smaller:

  • About 2.2 percent of new car buyers visit a dealership's Facebook page;
  • About 1.9 percent of new car buyers have looked at car dealership ads on Facebook; and
  • About 1.9 percent of new car buyers have either "liked" a dealership or have become its Facebook friend or a fan.

"Social networking is on the rise, but it is not a strong advertising tool for car dealerships at this time," notes Friedman. "There are exceptions--dealers who have surpassed these national numbers--but overall, Facebook is not driving traffic to dealerships right now."

Still, Friedman notes, Facebook could be an important component of dealership marketing. "Facebook is part of a dealership's public relations and marketing campaign," Friedman says. "Customers who become Facebook friends with auto dealerships might have stronger customer loyalty in the long run."

Friedman-Swift's research is based on telephone surveys with 7,111 new car buyers in 2011 and 2012. All survey respondents had recently purchased or leased a new car or truck and were over 18 years of age. Car buyers employed in the advertising, market research or auto dealership industries were excluded from the study.

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