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Case Study
Aug 2009

Social Media as the New Global Twenty Group:

Auto Industry Embraces DrivingSales Collaborative Platform

O verview
With 67% of the global online population now visiting ‘member communities,’ including social networks/blogs1, it is no secret that social media has “arrived,” nor that social media is proving to be a powerful business-to-business tool. By December 2008, 32.5% of business professionals were reporting that they use online social networks for professional purposes daily — with 80% using them at least once a week.2 LinkedIn alone has registered over 40 million members, meanwhile consumer ratings on everything from recipes to carpet cleaners are soaring online, with Yelp attracting 20 million visitors a month and racking up over 5 million local reviews a month. But, until June 2008, the largest industry in the world (the auto industry) lacked a true B2B social media platform or user-generated vendor rating system. Given the stark economic realities of the industry, with its shrinking car sales, disappearing margins and the inability of dealers to turn a profit on new car sales (average industry margins had shrunk to just 1 percent of sales in 2008 and are likely to fall even more this year3) - the need for an open, objective collaborative social media forum to help the leading edge of the entire industry — and especially its dealerships — navigate through the crisis and into the future, was clear.

An Automotive Social Media Platform is Born
Knowing that dealers struggle on a daily basis to make smart spending decisions on the scores of vendors (dealerships report receiving as many as 80 vendor calls a week) and best practices solutions they are bombarded with – and also knowing in spite of the industry’s massive adoption of the Internet, that a truly neutral and comprehensive dealer vendor rating forum was notably absent and sorely needed, DrivingSales was launched nationally in June 2008, as the only custom social media platform for the automotive and dealer industries. Car Dealers: Luddites…?

The fact is that when people think of consumer social media it is usually tied to Gen Y on Facebook — and in the case of B2B social media, it is the super-hightech Silicon Valley companies that are seen as jumping into the mix. Certainly, the inaccurate but, unfortunately stereotypical, image of the car dealer industry – and even the auto industry – is that they are late and/or resistant to the Internet/ technology game, and not the first 'face' one puts on social media.

H ow DrivingSales Works
D rivingSales operates as a true
o nline community for the auto
i ndustry, where i ts thousands
o f members (incl uding dealers,
d ealership managers, manufacturers, industry experts and
v endors), collaborate and share
b est practices in a twenty group
s tyle setting.
M embers can create profiles
a nd communicate with each
o ther; build their networks and
k nowledgebase; post, read and
r ate timely industry news
a rticles; share a nd rate proven
s trategies; and ha ve access to
r elevant content contributed by
f ellow industry experts, including blogs, videos, interviews, a nd more.
D ealer members can rate and
r eview hundreds of vendor
p roducts and technology solutions — while vendors have the o pportunity to provide feedback
o n reviews and showcase the
v alue of their products and
s ervices.
D rivingSales was created and
b uilt from the ground up in
2 003 by Jared Hamilton, a third
g eneration auto dealer, as a
p rivate automotive business
c ommunity to network his
N ADA Dealer Candidate Academy class. The site opened
n ationally in 2008 and is the
a uto industry’s leading social
m edia custom platform.

...or Social Media-ites?
But just one year after launching nationally to the industry, DrivingSales is blowing that image out of the water. DrivingSales has grown dealer by dealer, best practice by best practice, vendor by vendor, to become the automotive...
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