Facebook introduces customer reviews; social media expert sees opportunity

Danny Sanchez, an Internet marketing specialist who focuses on the automotive aftermarket, is all pumped up after the Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW) and can’t wait to head back to Vegas for next week’s SEMA Show. That’s because a lot of new opportunities are opening for aftermarket shops interested in using social media as a marketing tool, something Sanchez has been promoting for three years.

Sanchez is a veteran aftermarket shop owner who has been working with aftermarket shops on Internet marketing for 14 years. He operates Autoshop Solutions Inc. and has spoken and exhibited at automotive aftermarket conventions in recent years.

The most exciting development, according to Sanchez, is that Facebook has introduced a customer review feature that allows Facebook visitors to leave and see other people’s reviews. Sanchez thinks this will bring serious competition to Yelp, the website that reviews customer experiences in local businesses. The Facebook customer reviews show up in people’s daily Facebook feeds and Sanchez thinks this has unprecedented potential for aftermarket businesses.

After working to encourage aftermarket shops to invest in social media for three years, Sanchez thinks the interest is beginning to gain traction. He estimates that about a third of his regular customer are now doing social media marketing.

Last month, I noted in this space that social media is critical for the automotive aftermarket since younger consumers are becoming car owners at a rapid rate and these consumers are “addicted” to social media. For more on this, read the recently released Google White paper, “The Road to Winning drivers; what drivers want in automotive aftermarket service,” at www.vehicleservicpros.com/11046714.

Another reason is that telematics, which is turning cars into smart phones on wheels, extends social media’s reach to an even more captive customer base: people in cars. New cars are using telematics to provide maintenance alerts, predictive diagnostics, and other messages. Telematics is a technology that carmakers are using to steer aftermarket work to OEM dealers.

Sanchez notes that so far, it’s the larger shops that are utilizing social media more aggressively. While learning how to use social media takes time, all service businesses, large and small, have much to gain by using it effectively.

The AAPEX and SEMA shows in Las Vegas next week once again are offering sessions on social media marketing.

For those aftermarket shops not going to Las Vegas, there is plenty of information available on the Internet about social media marketing and there are lots of independent consultants anxious to assist local businesses in every community. Start networking.