Social media hygiene

By Georgina Woodley

Social media is one of the most immediate and visible channels with which to interact with customers. But whilst many brands are busy thinking through their social media marketing strategy, often consumers are simply viewing social media as another problem resolution channel. And why not? When you consider the degree to which companies seek to protect their public relations image, one well developed tweet can be one of the most effective ways to jump the traditional call centre queue.

But how well do brands perform in this area? A recent study by our UK office tested how responsive brands were on Twitter across a range of different sectors.
A mystery shopping programme was conducted whereby 9,000 tweets were sent out to 395 brands across 32 sectors. The responses were analysed for response times, whether the question was answered and whether additional information was offered.

Only eight of the businesses failed to respond to any of the tweeted enquiries, but only 41 replied to them all. There was a wide range of response times – the fastest single response took less than a minute, the slowest more than six days.

The most effective responses overall came from the banking and credit card sectors, as well as rail companies, DIY stores, and airlines.

"Twitter is nearly 10 years old so companies have had plenty of time to learn how to use it effectively to handle customer queries and complaints," said Tim Barber, director at BDRC Continental.

"We believe that a decade on, responding promptly should be basic housekeeping for the UK's biggest brands. But to meet customers' increasingly high expectations of the service they receive, it's no longer enough just to respond - and to respond quickly - to every tweet: the response must be useful, provide the information needed, and address the question or complaint in an appropriate manner.

"It is particularly important as it's all done in public - questions and responses can be seen by anyone."

A recent deep dive study conducted here in Australia looked at the emotional impact of being always connected through technology. It explored the role of social media and the extent to which marketing messages were likely to be effective or simply noise.

The study revealed that brands have some way to go in building credibility in social media conversations outside of problem resolution.
“A brand entering Facebook is like Mr CBA knocking on your front door during dinner and demanding to be let in, then sitting down uninvited at the table”

“It’s [social media] a way for me to get to you, not the other way around”

Brands could have more credibility marketing on social media if they adopted the tone of the channel.
They really need to be mindful of the role that each channel plays in the life of the consumer – their conduct has to be appropriate to the channel.

Social media hygiene

You can learn more about the lessons for brands from these studies by contacting Georgina Woodley. We are planning future blogs on the role of social media in the enterprise, not least in employee engagement. Do get in touch if you would like to contribute to the debate.

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