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66 aftermarket trends and factsFacebook, Twitter and other social media sites play a huge role in the everyday lives of millions, but do they influence the buying decisions of automotive enthusiasts and automotive DIY consumers? Here are some facts to keep in mind.

1). Enthusiasts don’t rely heavily on social media interaction when making buying decisions. While millions of auto enthusiasts participate in social media with their friends, far fewer enthusiasts use it to make buying decisions on parts and accessories.

2). Enthusiasts use ‘old-fashioned’ social media to help the buying decision process. In Hedges & Company’s BuyerZoom market research, covering thousands of enthusiasts, we found that a high percentage participate in social media, but a very low percentage—2% to 4%—use it to make a buying decision. About four out of 10 use what you might call ‘old-fashioned social media’: automotive bulletin boards and discussion sites.

3). Social media can draw a less-engaged or lower-qualified visitor to retail shopping sites than organic search. For Google and automotive social media trendsexample, visitors coming to a website from Google are more than twice as likely to add an item to a shopping cart and 500% more likely to convert to a buyer, than a visitor coming from Facebook. See a study conducted by Monetate and posted at Internet Retailer here. (There’s usually something interesting on Monetate’s blog by the way.)

4). Pinterest: not huge in specialty auto parts. Another challenge for aftermarket companies is Pinterest, the fastest-growing website in history. Pinterest is getting a lot of attention in the media but demographics are holding steady with males representing just over 20% of users, clearly not reaching a large automotive parts-buying audience.

5). Google: no longer just a search engine. Activity on Google+ shows up in Google search results making Google+ probably the most important social media to invest in right now. Google’s term for their integration of social and search is “social layering.” More on that in future posts on this blog.

Social media is an important marketing tool but as you allocate your marketing dollars, put social media in perspective and look at it in combination with your SEO efforts. Also, integrate social media into your email marketing, the highest ROI marketing activity. For the majority of aftermarket companies, social media isn’t going to be very cost-effective by itself. Check in with future blog postings where we’ll have more detail and statistics on how enthusiasts use social media. (And for more information on our SEO and paid search management look at this page.)

Social media is near and dear to many marketers’ hearts, so leave a comment and share your perspective!

Tomorrow, we reveal the volume of specialty parts sales through and eBay Motors.

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