But you’ve been out of the car market for years – where do you even start?
When we have questions – we search online. The search bar has become a reflex for inquiry. But is it the best tool when it comes to car buying research – yes and no.
For general information and to begin your automotive homework the search bar is ideal. “Is the new Civic any good” or “Safest car for kids” – easily things that can be answered by the World Wide Web. But once you’ve found your answers you have to ask yourself: Is this a trusted source? What if I have more questions?
We place a great deal of value on the opinions of our friends and family. Everything from where to eat to how to invest for our future, the people in our lives help us make decisions. That same should apply to purchasing a new car.
Enter – Facebook’s Virtual Garage: a Facebook application that allows you to list your vehicles, both current and previous, and make this information available to your friends via Facebook search.
Say you are thinking you want to replace that reliable, yet incredibly outdated 1998 Civic DX with a new Dodge Challenger.
You search around the internet and read all of the professional reviews. Then you go to Facebook.
Here is where it gets tricky. You could post a message on your wall – “I’m thinking of buying a new Mustang and would appreciate any advice or thoughts you may have.” But depending upon who subscribes to your updates and Facebook’s ever-changing feed algorithm your post may never be seen by one of your friends.
What if you could search Facebook for friends who have owned or currently own a Dodge Challenger?
This allows people to directly engage with a trusted source about a specific vehicle model. Send them your questions and get back frank, honest and sometimes brutal responses (ask me about MyFordTouch).
Your friend or family member may not have the same knowledge base that a professional automotive reviewer enjoys, but unlike that reviewer they own or have owned that vehicle and they are your friend – that makes what they have to say more important than anything a journalist could ever write.
Does a native application currently exist within Facebook to make this happen? No. Doug Frisbie, who according to Google searches is the Head of Automotive for Facebook. Reading a piece by Doug from last year is seems Facebook is very focused on growing page likes and increasing per-click spends. This leads me to believe Facebook has one goal – increase automotive ad spend.
Will this effort result in a dramatic increase in revenue for Facebook, no. But I still think there is value to be had in capturing a Facebook user’s automotive data as I explained in my piece Would you tell Facebook what you drive?
Search within the Facebook Garage won’t replace consumer reviews, but as a buyer gets further down their decision path, a trusted search data pool such as Facebook Garage could be the pivotal factor in their car buying decision.
This new utility becomes a great research tool for the user. And while Facebook Garage doesn’t put money in shareholder pockets right away, it does give Facebook a new highly-defined piece of consumer data, vehicle ownership, which can be used to justify a premium data set for ad targeting.