One of the common traits we hear when talking about the buying habits of rural consumers is that they'll do a lot of research before making any purchase. In that respect urban or rural really doesn't matter — they're just like any wise consumer these days.

Where rural consumers differ from their city-dwelling cousins is in what they're buying. They've finally moved out to that land in the country. Suddenly they need a bigger lawn mower and something to move snow in the winter. You can bet they're going to research their options before even leaving the house, and they're also looking at those colorful fliers that were mailed by the non-servicing chain store down the road.

To me, buying equipment in this manner is much the same as starting an article. I'll do some research before making a call so I can learn a little about the business or the lines carried by a dealership. In doing that early research, I'm often surprised at how many dealers who are hoping to attract the equipment-buying consumer do not have an up-to-date website — or how many don't have one at all.

Since its inception, Rural Lifestyle Dealer's mission has been to inform traditional farm equipment dealers about this new type of customer who was walking into their dealership. These folks weren't farmers and didn't know a lot about tractors — but had money to spend.

With the Internet already a powerful tool used by consumers when selecting everything from hotels to cars, helping dealers get up to speed with the Internet and social media presents an opportunity for this publication to educuate dealers.

In this issue of e-Brief, contributor Lynn Woolf kicks off a three-part series that will help dealers  move into the world of the Internet and social media — the Facebooking and Tweeting that your kids do on a daily basis can help raise your visibility among the rural consumer.

Have you been using social media to drive business to your dealership? Please tell us what successes you've had. If not, why not?