One In Four Shoppers Uses Facebook, Twitter To Choose Next Ride. Do Automakers Know That?

September 16, 2010
Facebook page for the Honda Accord Crosstour

Facebook page for the Honda Accord Crosstour

People discuss lots of stuff on social networks. Grandchildren. Farmville. Cat videos. But they also discuss the world of commerce -- what they like, what they're buying, and what they try to avoid. And of all those things, all those products, we talk about cars most of all.

ROI Research recently surveyed 3,000 people in the United States, all of whom regularly access at least one social network. ROI discovered that 61% of respondents -- nearly two out of three -- discussed vehicles online. And 49% followed auto brands and dealers on Twitter.

But most intriguing of all, 26% of respondents were "likely to make an automotive a result of a recommendation someone posted on a social networking site". In other words, for slightly more than one in four shoppers, what their friends post on Facebook (and other sites) determines the make and model of their next ride. That's huge.

Given those results, we'd expect social media to be a hotbed of automotive advertising, but so far the efforts have been fairly tepid. Sure, we've seen launches on Facebook. We've seen car giveaways on Twitter. But given the number of car brands on the market and the advertising dollars that automakers spend, shouldn't we have seen a bit more by now?

Screencap from Craig Benzine's video for the Fiesta Movement

Screencap from Craig Benzine's video for the Fiesta Movement

The problem might have something to do with where information comes from. It's all well and good for an automaker to post updates to a Facebook page, but it's quite another to get that everyday folks to own that information, to make it interesting and personal enough to share with friends. That's probably why we keep returning to the textbook social media success story: Ford's Fiesta Movement. Ford knew that people love nothing so much as talking about themselves, so they gave 100 of the most gifted gabbers a chance to run wild with the company's newest ride. A slew of updates and videos followed, and behind all the me-me-me, watchers couldn't help noticing the Fiesta. Bing, bam, boom, and next thing you knew, the Fiesta had 60% name recognition before it even reached showrooms.

In the end, what ROI's survey says is what we already knew: (a) social networks will only grow in importance, (b) marketers will spend more time and attention on circulating their messages through those networks, and (c) people with vast networks of friends and/or fans are the new Times Square billboard and Super Bowl ad.

For additional details, check the official press release below.

* * * * *

S-Net (The Impact of Social Media) Study: Automotive, Travel, Entertainment Top List of Most Discussed Categories on Social Networking Sites

Reports highlight behaviors of 3,000 social networkers across 11 critical consumer categories

Performics (, the performance marketing expert inside Publicis Groupe, today released vertical reports which detail findings from “S-Net (The Impact of Social Media),” a report from ROI Research Inc. ( sponsored by Performics. The S-Net vertical reports complement the full study released in June and highlight findings specific to eleven different industries: apparel, appliances, automotive, CPG, electronics, entertainment, financial services, healthcare/pharma, home furnishings, telecommunications and travel.

The S-Net vertical reports benchmark how buyers use social networking sites to get advice on what to purchase, give advice on companies/products and post content specific to various industries. In addition to analyzing each category, Performics and ROI Research also compared variables across industries. According to those surveyed, the most highly discussed verticals on social networks include automotive (61 percent), travel (60 percent) and entertainment (57 percent). When it comes to social networkers seeking or sharing recommendations on local retailers, home furnishing led all verticals, including automotive.

Each report contains a wide array of industry-specific findings, but some of the highlights include: 

  • Fifty-six percent of respondents are fans of appliance brands/retailers on Facebook
  • Forty-nine percent of respondents discuss apparel on social networking sites to compare prices
  • Forty-nine percent of respondents follow automotive brands/retailers on Twitter
  • Twenty-three percent of respondents follow at least one travel company on either Facebook or Twitter
  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents are at least somewhat interested in receiving new product announcements from financial services companies/brands on social networking sites

“Social networkers behave differently when interacting with their favorite jeans brand versus the manufacturer of that new hybrid car they’ve got their eye on,” said Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics. “Marketers can benefit by recognizing social networkers’ desire to participate with brands and keeping these behaviors in mind when setting strategies. Vertical-specific insights can help advertisers understand how their category fares in this new channel and the best ways to connect with their niche.”

Across verticals, respondents indicated that active participation with brands and other social networkers is more likely in some verticals than others. Highlights of the best-performing verticals for advice and feedback include: 

  • Forty-nine percent of respondents most often use social networking sites to seek advice on electronics purchases
  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents most often use social networking sites to give advice about financial services and home furnishings companies/products
  • Respondents use social networking sites to provide feedback to appliance brands/retailers (33 percent) more than any other vertical
  • Users are most likely to make an automotive purchase (26 percent) as a result of a recommendation someone posted on a social networking site than any other vertical

S-Net (The Impact of Social Media), a report from ROI Research Inc., sponsored by Performics, used a 30-minute online survey to collect information from 3,000 U.S. respondents who access at least one social network regularly. Responses were compiled, analyzed and, trended against data in two waves in 2009 and 2010. The objective of this study was to determine how various segments of users participate with social networks in their daily lives, specifically with regard to the purchase process for different types of products and in relation to other media channels.


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