Sure you can use Facebook to play Farmville and keep in touch with friends, but be careful on how you use Facebook to buy your next used car.
Facebook really is not set up that well to help you buy your next used car but by its sheer numbers it can be an amazingly effective tool for gathering all types of information.
The use of Facebook by used car dealers is part of the whole growing social media trend. According to CNW Research, used car dealers are hopping on the Facebook bandwagon with a 10.3% increase since last year and a 20.19% rise in Facebook accounts since 2008.
But they're not using Facebook effectively to sell used cars. There's a reason for that. It's not set up as a place to do commerce that well in spite of 500 million people using Facebook worldwide.
Before I go any further, I can't assume that everybody knows how to use Facebook. Sure, probably 1 out of 7 people on the planet are using it, but that doesn't mean you know how to (nor could I explain it in-depth). Instead, learn the basics of Facebook by reading Leslie Walker's article at personalweb.about.com.
Now that Leslie has explained Faebook to you, do as I did and plug in the phrase Used Cars New York (or your home state if you want). What's going to come up is, probably, one or two dealerships and then search results on Bing for used car dealers.
That demonstrates that the best place to start, then, is going to be a search engine like Google or Bing. Plus, you're going to want to narrow your search to a more specific geographic area (say Buffalo, N.Y. used cars) for the best results that Facebook can't give you.
The primary reason Facebook doesn't work for used cars is most consumers don't establish, to use the Facebook parlance, friendships with their used car dealers. People buy a used car and, in most cases, never go back to that used car dealer again.
It's not like a new car dealership where a buyer returns for warranty and maintenance work on a somewhat regular basis. Facebook works well for new car buyers and owners because a dealership has an incentive to maintain a relationship with you for the profitable service department - and the hopes you might one day buy another new car from the dealership.
However there are other ways you can use Facebook to your advantage.
How Facebook Can Work for Used Car Buyers
You can make Facebook work for buying a used car once you have used a search engine to narrow your search. I have advice on buying a used car online that might prove helpful. Identify the dealer that has a car you are interested in and:
- See if they are on Facebook;
- What your friends think about them; and,
- The side ads that pop up when you go to the dealer's page
Now, you may wonder how come you couldn't find the dealer before. Well, the use of Facebook by used car dealers is still in its infancy, in spite of the huge jump in numbers mentioned above. Just because businesses are using social media does not mean they are using it correctly.
Now that you have located the dealer on Facebook, read their page. Odds are most negative comments won't be there but some may have slipped through. That's a telling sign about the dealership's use of Facebook if it allows negative comments to stay posted. Another reason to check out the Facebook page is to see if the dealership is offering any special deals related to its used car sales. It could be offers for financing or maintenance or even free satellite radio.
Frankly, the best Facebook pages don't try to sell you anything. Good dealerships use them to promote various causes in the community, seek to inform you, or even have a lighter touch by sharing fun items from around the web. The best Facebook pages don't try to sell you anything but a positive experience.
Get Your Friends Involved
The best feature of Facebook is word of mouth. Put the question on your status page: "Has anybody dealt with XYZ Dealership?" See what their input is and what stories (good and bad) they have to tell. Weigh the good and the bad and use that info when you begin to negotiate with the dealership.
One way to use your Facebook friends to buy a used car is to simply post, "I'm looking for a 2008 Mazda5. Any suggestions?" Your friends will do their best to come through for you with news about neighbors or models they have passed on their way to work.
Say, for example, one of your friends says the dealership is known for the hard sell. Make it known to the dealership upfront you don't like that kind of relationship. If a hard sell comes, you can tell them, they will lose you as a customer.
Use Facebook Ads
When you visit a dealership's Facebook page, the right-hand column is going to feature ads related to your interests, as well as that of the Facebook page you are visiting. It's one of the great weaknesses for businesses attempting to use Facebook as an advertising vehicle. The competition's ads are right next to it.
Doesn't cost you anything to check out those businesses, too. Click on the links, which unfortunately makes Facebook that much richer, and see what that dealership has to offer you. It's possible you could end up getting an even better deal on what you were looking for in a vehicle.