Social Media for Business: Response Time

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According to American Express study 25% of consumers who complain about products on Facebook or Twitter expect a response within 1 hour. Yet, it seems that many brands take much, much longer (if you even get a response). While there’s not enough research into the effects of quick response time (or slow response time) it does seem that the more engaged a company is on social media, the more opportunities they give themselves.

Why should you respond to social media comments in a short time period?

1. It may influence a sale. Studies have proven that people hit social media for recommendations on what to purchase. If your brand or business is asked a question, especially about products or if you’re open at a certain time your quick response may be the difference between a sale for you or a sale for a competitor.

2. It may calm an angry customer. One negative customer has the potential of telling over 20 people about their experience. This is amplified if they leave a review on-line (especially on Yelp, Amazon, or a similar service). In small businesses the change of one star in a review can effect sales. Like this article that looked into restaurants that saw a large change in the amount of customers based on Yelp reviews.  The fast your can convert them to a happy customer the more you can negate the effects of their anger. A classic case of this is Comcast, who had a lot of negative complaints over the years before social media, but now they are online nearly 24/7 helping customers get customer service satisfaction (it’s sometimes even faster than just calling the company yourself).

3. It may turn a fan into an evangelist. One of the concepts that businesses have a hard time grasping is that if you’re on social media and your customers are following you, they really value your social media responses. There’s a small thrill when you get a tweet back from a company. It makes the customer feel important and that in turn, may turn them into a brand evangelist (they start really talking up about how great you are and recommending you to friends). Based on my conversations with my followers on Facebook and Twitter, many of them didn’t mind if businesses didn’t respond to them on social media, but they were always thrilled when they did. One of my favorite examples of this is Think Geek, a cool online store that offers a lot of very geeky merchandise. If I reply to them or mention them in a comment they’re quick to respond (usually in an hour or less). That attention makes me more likely to remember to go buy stuff from them later. In fact, when I was working on this blog post, I mentioned them on Twitter and, sure enough 30 minutes later I had a response.

4. It may gain you more followers. When you respond to a fan on Facebook or Twitter the odds are that some of their followers will see it (either the fan will share your response or it’ll pop up in the follower’s feed). Because of this you may gain more followers as they see you interacting with customers (which makes your pages feel more like real people).

5. It may give you feedback you can’t get anywhere else. Social media’s power for businesses (especially smaller companies) is it gives you a direct customer research center. You can tell what your customers enjoy, what gets them excited, you can even cull it for new ideas and offers. If you pay attention to social media you can really get market research that in other venues would cost an arm and leg to get!

If you follow businesses on social media, how do you feel about getting replies?

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