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With the launch of a revamped Web site this week, Kelley Blue Book is taking a bigger leap into the world of social media.
The update of the consumer Web site, KBB.com, comes after an intensive two-year effort to refresh all the site's live data and to give the brand a more personal presence, says communications manager Rebekah King.
To that end, KBB's embracing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter across its pages, while it's also playing up the editorial content--reviews and news headlines--that haven't been surfaced as prominently in older versions of the site.
What the changes mean to shoppers, King says, is a better experience in helping users find information more easily not just on their current car, but on the next one they want to buy. Within a handful of clicks, a car shopper can pick a model or type and navigate to a rich page of information with price ranges and information; before the new site launched, the same navigation could take dozens of clicks.
The flatter navigation goes in lockstep with growing its social-media presence. From a pricing or information page, King says, users can share information on the car they're about to sell through Facebook or Twitter, hitting a new audience unavailable through listings sites. That in turn should help KBB show off content and tools that weren't being viewed as frequently, she says--letting users explore other types of content before they go offline to sell.
In turn, the content should help fuel KBB's social presence, she adds. With the major channels covered, KBB counts more than 5000 fans on Facebook, and its YouTube channel receives nearly a hundred comments a day, even before it's been aggressively targeted via social tools. One of its most popular social media pieces? A video of a Ford Raptor bounding over desert trails.
More under-the-hood changes bring some more practical products to users' browsers. There's a new "reality check" pricing tool that turns Kelley Blue Book data into a graphic bar clearly influenced by other car-pricing sites such as Truecar. KBB's adding its own cost-of-ownership data to the mix as well, and a useful vehicle-condition quiz gently suggests to used-car sellers that their vehicle probably qualifies as being in "good" rather than "excellent" condition--since KBB's data finds that about 82 percent of vehicles fall into the "good" category.
Going forward, KBB will integrate social tools even more deeply into its content pages, down to its well of hundreds of thousands of consumer-written reviews, with a goal to transform one of the most cited names in car pricing into something a little more dynamic.
"It's all about how we use social media to express the car at the appropriate level," King says.
The new Web site comes as KBB's sale to Atlanta-based AutoTrader has closed, and as AutoTrader embarks on its own massive technological overhaul. While the two properties have some natural synergies, in combining pricing and a marketplace, there's no formal plan to fully integrate the sites at this time, representatives at both companies say.