Social media marketing has become increasingly valuable for car dealers and auto manufacturers, a new report has found., DriverSide and GfK Automotive reported on Monday that the value and effectiveness of social media marketing in car sales is growing. The companies recently collaborated on a study of 2,000 consumers planning to purchase cars in the next 12 months.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents report using social media to find information on their next car purchases. Social media’s value as a research tool for shoppers has grown due to the availability of both consumer information and offers from car dealers and automobile manufacturers.

According to the study, Facebook is especially popular for auto research, with 41 percent of respondents reporting social media content caused them to consider a certain make or model they were not previously thinking about. In terms of auto dealers, social media marketing resulted in 28 percent of consumers adding a dealer to their shopping list.

The value of social doesn’t end when a consumer makes a purchase. One-quarter of car buyers said they trumpet their decision on a social media account, providing word-of-web referrals.

Social media has essentially become the new form of word-of-mouth advertising. Consumers can easily inform friends, co-workers and others of purchases they’re happy with.

Search marketing is also a frequently valuable tool for auto manufacturers and dealers. Brafton recently reported that Bing has updated its Autos function to help consumers research available automobiles.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.