Social media has become routine for many marketers. We pin images every day. We write interesting things. We amplify our blog posts on Twitter and Linked In. We post questions and quizzes on Facebook. But in all this activity, we often lose sight of how much clutter there is, and why we bother to do social marketing at all. The goal has to be around meaningful connections. That’s why this new report from UK-based BrandWatch that studied how retailers interact with tweets may give us all pause – it shows that while brands are present on Twitter, they may not be actually connecting with followers effectively.
The report reviewed 300 UK and US retail brand Twitter accounts and found that brands respond differently to neutral and negative mentions as well as direct comments. It found that most brands ignore neutral mentions. Overall, 46.6% of brands engaged with any tagged @mention overall. For UK brands, this was 50.9% and for US brands just 43.3%. Retail brands were even less likely to respond when the tweet did not include a direct question, even when they included the official @brand handle.
Brands take longer to engage with direct questions than with neutral comments, the report found, although direct questions are more likely to generate a response from retail brands than neutral @tagged comments. American brands are quicker at this, taking on average just 50 minutes to engage with @mentions that don’t involve a question. UK brands take just over an hour, at 63 minutes.
Questions are resolved after two and a half hours (157 minutes) on average. UK brands are slightly quicker at 152 minutes, with US brands taking 163.
Here at TopRight, we can see why this part might actually be a smart move by brands. Many of the social FAILS in the past year were the result of a careless or ill-conceived reply to a neutral mention or a trending #subject. Taking time to answer properly and get the right information is a smart move.
Most people expect a response from a brand within an hour, according to research by Lithium which found that people “punish” brands who fail to respond quickly to social media.
Although an hour wait seems like a long time in the fast-paced world of tweeting, it isn’t that long compared to a website request, email inquiry or even some customer service call wait times. The report shows that brands who are responsive are using Twitter as a true customer service channel. The BrandWatch study found that the most common tactic for retail brands was to respond to the question asked by writing an answer or requesting more information within a single tweet – 52.4% of brands took this approach.
However, the findings that over a third of brands fail to respond to direct questions, and nearly every single one ignores complaints that are not specifically @tagged with branded handles is a clear sign that the retail sector isn’t focused on social care via Twitter. The BrandWatch team calls out Best Buy (@bestbuy) for a “special commendation for responding to all three types of tweet within three minutes, even untagged ones.”
It’s interesting also to see the lack of diligence by the surveyed brands in making sure that every digital outpost truly carries on the brand values in being responsive to customers, and communicates the brand story. Perhaps some of these retailers have found that Twitter does not drive new sales, or loyalty, and so they have reduced their resource allocation.
Like any marketing effort, opening a Twitter account means being present, which requires a real commitment to engage, reply and participate, no matter how uncomfortable the circumstance. While responding to every negative comment may not be required, a response to every mention is just good Twitter manners, especially for brands. Being clear about your brand story is a core component to effective customer service and digital outreach in any channel. It’s one of the ways to use social media to Stay #TopRight.