J.D. Power: Toyota, Ford, Chevy Rule Social Networks; Fiat, Mini, Chrysler, Not So Much

April 11, 2014

We often think of social media as the playground of the young: the tweens, the teens, and the Millennials, with a few Gen Xers thrown in for gravitas.

But while those whippersnappers may be more comfortable than older folks when it comes to diving into a new social network, in the end, everyone gets there. Roughly translated: whether you're a great-grandchild or a great-grandmother, all roads lead to Facebook.

According to marketing research powerhouse J.D. Power, that's an important lesson for automakers to learn. Sure, social media campaigns like the Fiesta Movement may focus on the Bright Young Things, but shoppers from every demographic are watching. And that can have a huge impact on sales.

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For the automotive version of Power's 2014 Social Media Benchmark Study, the firm queried over 9,800 U.S. online consumers, all of whom had interacted with at least one automaker on a social media channel (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Respondents were asked to rank automakers on a 0-1,000-point scale, assigning scores based on how well those automakers met their marketing and servicing needs. According to Power:

"Marketing engagements include connecting with consumers to build brand awareness and affinity as well as communicating about products and promotions. Servicing engagements include answering specific consumer questions or resolving problems." 

On the not-so-surprising front, Power found that consumers who had positive marketing and servicing experiences with automakers were likely to return to those companies for purchases and/or repairs in the future. Other, less-obvious findings include:

  • Facebook is the most popular social network for both marketing and servicing. YouTube came in second for marketing and third for servicing, while Twitter took the silver in servicing and third in marketing. Snapchat? Still not on the radar. 
  • 29 percent of respondents rely solely on social media for recommendations about product and services.
  • 20 percent of respondents rely on social media as their primary source of information about automakers and their products.
  • Toyota fared the best of all automakers when it came to social media, with an average score of 845 out of 1,000. Ford came in second with 842, and Chevy was third, with a score of 838. As you can see from the chart above, Lincoln, BMW, Dodge, Infiniti, Acura, Honda, and Kia all landed above the industry average of 824 points.
  • More automakers landed below the industry average than above it. Fiat ranked lowest of all, with just 743 points. Mini scored 20 points higher, but still landed in the penultimate spot, with 763. Other brands scoring below 800 were Chrysler, Scion, Land Rover, Volvo, GMC, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, and Jeep.

Do your experiences on social networks match these findings? Do you have a great/horrible experience you want to share? Do you even use social networks? (And if so, do you like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter?) Sound off below.

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