Consumers leverage social media for auto purchases

Social media is being leveraged by a growing swath of industries to engage with customers and bolster their marketing campaigns.

Social media is being leveraged by a growing swath of industries to engage with customers and bolster their marketing campaigns. While its function varies, success has been fairly difficult to monitor.

In the automotive industry, however, new research suggests social media use has a major impact on consumers' research and purchase decisions. A report released this week by Dealer.com shows 38 percent of new vehicle shoppers claim to use or will use social media to research their next purchase.

For customers who have already shown brand loyalty, 44 percent are very or somewhat likely to recommend that brand to their social networks. That figure climbs to 47 percent in reference to dealerships.

"We are witnessing the evolution of the automotive purchase cycle, which takes into account the rapidly growing influence of social media on the car-buying process," said Kevin Root, chief product officer at Dealer.com. "Dealers and manufacturers need to recognize the importance of this new person-to-person marketing phenomenon, where the advocacy of others is increasingly more valuable to consumers than traditional marketing."

As mobile technology expands and more consumers use their smartphones for on-site research, the need to augment promotions with mobile and social strategies becomes paramount.