How long will it be before consumers can hail a self-driving Uber from their smartphones? Given the evolution of automotive technologies over the past several years, you might expect the answer to be, soon. However, while the technology may be there, consumers might not be quite ready for such dramatic shake-ups.

Enter: social media insights. Tapping into unsolicited, unfiltered consumer conversations on social media networks and forums allows carmakers to get a clearer view into the minds of their target customers.

Questions such as, “Who talks about Toyota?” or, “What features do consumers want in a new car?” can be answered. Insights from social media can help car brands not only market their vehicles better, but also improve the overall customer experience to win brand advocates. Below are four uses for social media insights in the automotive industry.

1 | Brand perception

Using social media to understand your brand’s share of voice and how your brand stacks up in relation to competitors is the foundation. An automotive trends report found that when consumers talk on social media about fuel efficiency, they most often discuss Toyota. When they talk about performance and handling, Ford is the most discussed brand.

2 | Target audience research

Understanding who is talking about your brand is critical. For example, social insights reveal that 47% of Honda’s audience is between 18 and 24 years old, 14% are 25 to 34, and 29% are 35 and older. Digging deeper, 70% of conversation about the Civic is sparked by people younger than 25, while 68% of CR-V conversation comes from those older than 25.

3 | Customer support

Social media can be another channel for the help desk. For example, when we identified repeating themes within conversations with negative sentiment about major car brands, we found that the key issues were car service, dealerships, and warranties. Complaints about service visits, the tactics of salespeople, and lack of comprehensive warranty coverage can be good intel for car brands looking to improve the customer experience. It can lead to changes in how warranties are communicated to customers or sales training, so brands can counteract the negative sentiment by giving customers more positive experiences.

4 | Product development

Social media analysis shows the most wanted features consumers discuss for new cars are comprehensive safety features, Bluetooth or USB connectivity, and space. People are hesitant about autonomous driving or autopilot features. In fact, fear has been the most dominant emotion in social media conversations about self-driving cars since 2010. Knowing this, product innovation and R&D teams can consider what people really want in their vehicles and build that into product planning.

Crimson Hexagon www.crimsonhexagon.com

Errol Apostolopoulos, Crimson Hexagon senior vice president of product, leads strategy, design, execution, and innovation. He can be reached at 857.990.6500 or info@crimsonhexagon.com