LOS ANGELES – A Chevrolet Cruze owner using Facebook to contact General Motors expresses concern that a vehicle recall modification might hurt his car’s fuel economy.

A GM Social Media Customer Care employee fields his complaint and shares it with others within the organization. An engineer ends up telling the customer how and why the recall work won’t lower Cruze fuel mileage.

“The result is a happy customer,” says Melody Blumenschein, GM’s social media manager-customer and relationship services.

GM sold about 2.8 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, including 248,224 Cruzes, according to WardsAuto data. With a buyer base like that, interacting with customers voicing and posting issues (and bringing engineers into it no less), may seem potentially overwhelming.

“But it’s worth doing that for a customer,” Blumenschein says. Especially in the world of social media where word, good and bad, can get around fast.

GM wants to make a good impression one customer at a time, because someone like the concerned Cruze owner “potentially would share his experience with other customers online.”

Operating a customer-care center is hardly a new endeavor for automakers, and, really, social media such as Facebook and Twitter provides just another channel for that.

But today it’s a vital one, as evidenced by GM’s increased social-network involvement, Bluemenschein says. “Why are we there? Because our customers are. Before, we weren’t close enough to them. So we took layers out, first with social media. We did too much outsourcing.”

Among other things, GM hired 25 social-media supervisors who oversee 20 Facebook pages, 15 Twitter handles and 120 online forums and feedback sites.