When I listen to most social media gurus, particularly in the automotive industry, I hear a lot about how branding, PR, and communication are the goals of social media. This is not correct.
Don't get me wrong. They are all great benefits that occur when you properly manage your social media, but they are not the proper goals. The real goal is to drive business to the dealership. The fact that social media is good for branding, PR, and communication does not mean that those should be the primary focus. In fact, when you focus on the primary goal, the side effects can happen naturally.
Think of it like selling a car. You can point out that it's comfortable, but most people don't think, "I want to relax. I'm going to go sit in my car for a while and unwind." Comfort is a feature that happens as a result of proper engineering and design for the car, but the car is built to get people from point A to point B. If you can get them there comfortably, that's an awesome bonus (better known in this blog post as a side effect).
If you do what you need to do to use social media as a business driver, people will see your brand. You will improve your public relations when the business-driving message is delivered properly. If your message is strong, they will communicate with you and you should communicate back. These are all excellent features, but when your goal is to brand, improve PR, or communicate, you're missing out on the real benefit, the ROI-aspect of social media.
Use social media to drive shoppers to your website and to drive visitors to your showroom. The side effects will happen naturally if you're doing the first part right.