Every successful business needs customer feedback to gauge how they are doing. Customer loyalty, experience and retention can’t be modified without hearing what your customers think. Dealerships rely on such things as manufacturer surveys and online reviews to get an idea of how well they are doing. Some will even go a step further and email their own survey, or have their BDC call the customer post-sale to ask.

And then of course there is social media. Progressive dealers increasingly use social media to monitor chatter, respond to complaints and gauge brand sentiment. But many are missing a large portion of what consumers say about them.

Here’s Why: If a dealership simply watches and responds to consumers who specifically talk to them online – meaning the consumer tagged the dealership in a post, or mentioned them in a tweet, plenty of dealers will see it and respond. However, according to an article on ZDNet, if that’s ALL your dealership is doing, you’re missing a lot.

In fact, the article shares that only 9% of brand chatter happens with a consumer tagging a business; while the other 91% don’t. Instead they use hashtags. For example, if someone were to tweet to me, 9% would include @carterwestpr in that tweet, whereas the rest would use #CarterWestPR.

There’s a reason people are doing that. When they tweet using a branded account, the reach of that tweet is typically limited to their followers and, perhaps, a slightly larger audience should a retweet or share occur. However, by using a hashtag, that reach is infinitely expanded to anyone searching individual topics – such as chatter about a dealership or model of vehicle. And this is where your dealership may be missing a whole bunch of feedback that could be useful.

According to the ZDNet article, the top reasons consumers reach out to a brand on social media are to ask to ask a question (57%); because they have a product or service issue (45%); or they want to give praise (34%). These are all opportunities for interaction. But if you’re only paying attention to those that tag your business, you’re missing most opportunities.

Another excellent way to capture social media opportunities, besides paying attention to social content you are tagged in, or via branded hashtags, is to also keep an eye on what your competition is up to. For example, a friend of mine bought a vehicle from a dealership roughly 100 miles from where he lives. Chances are slim that he will service his vehicle there and, since it’s a new car, it is going to be a little while before he needs service.

Then he noticed a cool new feature on his vehicle he wasn’t aware of, tweeted out how impressed he was and used the make’s hashtag. Well, guess what happened next? A dealership local to him responded, agreeing that it was cool and that they hoped he enjoyed his new vehicle. How do you think that made him feel? Which dealership do you think will be top-of-mind when it comes time for him to service his vehicle? You guessed it, the one that impressed him by engaging with him.

That dealership didn’t try and sell him anything. Nor did it solicit any service business. They simply engaged him. They could only do that if they were paying attention to the chatter about them, in addition to the all-important chatter on relevant hashtags.

Don’t miss out on these highly-valuable social media opportunities that allow you to see the uncensored version of what your customers are saying and to engage your customers/conquest new customers. They will remember and, when it comes time, that simple tweet or response may just earn you more business.