Influence and Buying a New Car – Social Media Case Study

January 21, 2016

My car is demolished. That’s right, my treasured 2010 MINI Cooper S got smashed by another driver and was deemed totaled by the insurance company. Since I was shoved into the role of new car buyer, I wanted to do some exploring at the same time about how much weight – if any – social media and content marketing might help me land a deal on a new car.

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As in most life events, coincidence jumped into the fray with two events. First, my friends at She Buys Cars and at the General Motors car group – specifically Chevy – reached out to me just prior to my car incident and offered me a place on their #ChevyBoston team at the New England International Auto Show.

Second, Bobbie Carlton of Mass Innovation Nights, Innovation Women and Carlton PR and Marketing also found herself in need of a car and did some social media outreach at the same time I was preparing a content strategy plan to present to a local dealer.

As turns out, I was immediately adrift in choices because Chevy has integrated some fantastic technology into their latest vehicles and I’m a devotee of tech-enhanced anything. Cars with their own wifi and the ability to sense danger were just amazing to me and that allowed me to widen my net and look at some of the cars we saw during the auto show. *See some photos sprinkled in this post.

Further, the options for replacing a MINI were complicated because I originally got my car at Mini of Peabody, had it serviced by a fantastic team at Herb Chambers Mini of Boston and recently became friends with the social media team at South Shore Mini in the town next to where I live. Add to that Bobbie’s plea for help with a new car from the folks at the Peabody dealership and I hit reset on my plan.

If I was going to find the right car for the right money – and/or the right relationship with the right dealer to get me into the right car – I would have to think critically about my decision-making process. The three steps I decided to take were: Pick the car I ultimately wanted; Evaluate how to get that car without any social media outreach or content support partnerships; See how the addition of a social media partnership might transform my role as purchaser into an ambassador for a motor group or dealership and brand.

But first I wanted to see how people really looked at ambassadors and for that I went to an article shared by Steve Garfield, written by Mack Collier. It was focused on how many companies look only at numbers and not results when making a decision.

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According to Mack, it isn’t your pure numbers that make you attractive…well it is…but it shouldn’t be. In fact, with the connections someone with low numbers might have, they might be more valuable than someone with lots of followers. So, the folks in Peabody might have made a mistake by not offering Bobbie a car. And if I go that route with Herb Chambers, they might be well-served to put me into some demo cars because it would make them the only car dealership to do this type of content marketing based on the amount and type of content I can create.

That’s neither here nor there. Let’s look at my three steps and evaluate each.

Pick the car. It turns out that I’m pretty set on the MINI Cooper S Convertible. The years I’d like are among 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013. And all manual transmission with heated seats. Color and other options are not important to me. There are plenty of these around used and certified pre-owned, and some are still under warranty. Price range for these vehicles is between $3800 and $13000. So the first part is done.

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Next up is finding a way to pay for the car. With my car totaled, I have some money coming to me. I believe it’s going to be between $3000 and $6000 once my existing MINI is paid off. If the car I choose costs more, I’ll have to enter a financing deal or sell some photographs or work a little harder. That part of the equation is also straightforward and will be something that works itself out as we get to the buying part.

Lastly, if I approach it correctly I could eat my cake and have it too as Gretchen is fond of saying. By the way, that’s the correct way to say it, not the converse.

I’ve already sent out feelers to one social media team at a dealership with my idea. In exchange for content, social updates, events and ambassadorship in other forms, they would provide me with a vehicle.

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The specifics could be as simple as choosing one car and allowing me to have it for a year or more. They could be as complex – but easier from a dealership standpoint – as having me visit the dealership each month and drive off in a demo vehicle that I would have for 30 days. This demo vehicle swap would continue for 12 months or more and the same content barter would be my obligation to the dealership. That’s up in the air and I have the luxury of time right now because I work from home and it seems I’m going to be homebound with the changing weather for the foreseeable future.

When it comes right down to it, the path to a new car for me isn’t very convoluted. It requires a few items to fall into place and for some negotiation and communication to take place. But when all is said and done, I hope to be in a MINI Cooper S Convertible sometime before Valentine’s Day.

Wouldn’t that be a sweet treat?!


What hiccups do you see standing in my way? What things do you suggest I do as a car buyer and/or as a potential ambassador to ensure things come together in the best way for my potential client and for me?