How social media is flipping the script on brands influencing car-buyers

A study from Crowdtap found the vast majority of car-buyers research a vehicle on social media before buying. Respondents also said digital car advertising is the least trusted source of information.

NEW YORK: Social media plays an integral role in consumers’ car-purchasing behavior, with 87% of potential buyers researching vehicles on social channels before making a decision, according to a study by Crowdtap released on Thursday.

The survey, which polled 500 male and female car-buyers in February, found that more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents have purchased a vehicle they found on social media.

Opinions expressed on social media channels also have an effect on prospective car-buyers, with 87% saying friends’ online comments about an auto brand have "extremely" or "somewhat" influenced their own views.

"Our research supports the notion that media-empowered consumers want a seat at the table when it comes to the brands they buy from. They want to give feedback, to have a say in innovation efforts, and be empowered to tell stories via [user-generated content]," said Matthew Scott, SVP of strategy and business development at Crowdtap. "Today, it’s on marketers to open up their brands and elevate the voice of the customer across all stages of their marketing."

Nearly all respondents said they would post about a great make or model on a social platform, while 80% said they’re more likely to turn to social media for advice on buying a vehicle than a salesperson.

Crowdtap is a marketing platform that connects brands with consumers and has worked with companies such as Verizon, Walmart, and Kraft.

Respondents valued recommendations from friends and family members as the most influential and trusted sources, followed by online review sites and social media. Digital car ads had the least effect and were the most distrusted sources of information, according to the study.

"The fact that auto-buyers are increasingly relying on first-hand accounts in social media when it comes to their decision-making process should grab the attention of marketers and PR pros in this vertical," added Scott. "This trend is flipping the automotive marketing model on its head, as this industry has primarily relied on flashy TV spots and other means of traditional advertising to move the needle with buyers."

After purchasing a car, a majority of buyers will take to social media to share photos (60%) and 45% will post about their new vehicle, while 44% will likely write a review online.

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