Generation Why: Social Media Is For Social Networking, Not Car Shopping

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Try as they might, auto makers aren’t reaching Generation Y with their online social media properties. A new study by AutoTrader shows that just 5 percent of Millennials used social media to shop for vehicles.

Overall, only 1 percent of consumers used social media to shop for cars, and even more damming is the fact that 78 percent of young buyers said that an automotive brand’s social presence would do nothing to sway their purchasing decision.

This column has long maintained that the vast majority of social media outreach and marketing efforts by auto makers are futile at best. At their worst, they are little more than embarrassing attempts to appear relevant in the eyes of younger consumers.

Brands can tout “social” as much as they want, and trot out nebulous statistics like “impressions” in an attempt to make them appear successful. But the general trend appears to be that these campaigns, however much praise they generate in Fast Company, don’t convert into sales.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

More by Derek Kreindler

Join the conversation
7 of 71 comments
  • Mr.cranky Mr.cranky on Aug 14, 2014

    The only time that I consulted social media on buying a car was when I asked fellow Civic owners what they thought of their Civics. I find most social media constructs involving cars to be laughable. Then again, I'm at the tail end of Gen-X/beginning of millenials. I definitely don't think like an X-er but I don't care for millenial shit much either.

  • Dimwit Dimwit on Aug 17, 2014

    That Ford campaign is ancient. In internet years that might as well be the dark ages. This is the problem for the pushers. They happily start planning things for these "hot" avenues and by the time they get their acts together the time has passed. I will wager that, though they executed well, the social media aspect was because it was fresh and new, They were first movers but that was it. Now, nobody cares. The antibodies have been produced and that sort of thing can't be reproduced. Most of the net is in the same sort of flux. It's cheap, but fairly ineffective. What the respective manufacturers need is a great site, informative and well executed and an easy way to get the product. I betcha that that only applies to a very small percentage of companies on the net, social media mavens or not.

  • Stanczyk Stanczyk on Aug 19, 2014

    Brainwashed by corporate-america Generation Y don't want to buy cars via facebook ? .. ohh.. they do everything via facebook..they live there.. My guesss is - they don't have ca$h .. Unfortunatelly they can only look at new Hellcat/Shelby pictures in colorfull magazines .. or on facebook:) .. (that's what's left for them..and what is really sad they are OK with that..) What is Generation Y taste ..? If wall$tr. bank$ters(their 'owners':) would give them a golden-credit-cards what they would choose ?: They crave for new ugly but prestigious:) 'Por$che $ellout' Panamejra or Muscle Hellcat .. or cool new KIA (that they think is cool, because they can 'personalize' it for their own hipster-tastes:)?

    • See 2 previous
    • Chan Chan on Feb 09, 2015

      If this is your [incoherent] idea of Gen Y, then I'm quite sure you don't want to meet this millennial. At the very least, I can type a sentence.

  • Vulpine Vulpine on May 23, 2015

    I would argue that marketing has a valid place in social media. After all, through a form of social media we have seen more than one new vehicle get chosen for real-world production after a commercial media reveal of the concept. Social media can also be used to measure the potential market for such a vehicle through how much the announcements and articles spread about that vehicle. General Motors, Ford, FCA and others have used social media to their own benefit not only in marketing new vehicles but also in monitoring public opinion and reaction to existing vehicles as well.