Thirty-six percent of consumers are ready to shame you on social

by Scott Brandt, chief marketing officer, Sprout Social

We’ve all struggled with the same dilemma: An angry customer Tweets you a less-than-positive message, irked about customer service or perhaps just wanting to throw you some shade.

Then, the question looms: Should we respond—or sweep the issue under the rug?

Too many brands take the latter path, ignoring any message they deem unworthy of their time and attention or just altogether difficult to deal with. In fact, data from Sprout Social shows that only 11% of messages sent to brands actually get a response.

Now, angrier than ever, your customers are ready to bite back.

In a recent study, Sprout surveyed more than 1,000 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users. 36% of those surveyed said that they will publicly shame a company on social if they’re ignored. Even worse, 1 in 3 will switch to a competitor as a result.

So where exactly does the friction lie? The fact is, brands just don’t get it. For example, most people expect a response on social in fewer than 4 hours. Brands, however, take an average of 10 hours to get back (that is, if they ever get back at all). These languid efforts are likely the result of some seriously misplaced attention. Brands everywhere are pumping out promotional messages at the expense of helpful responses by a ratio of 23:1.

Meanwhile, people overwhelmingly identify social as their go-to source for customer service (ahead of phone, email and even live chat). This explains why 73% of people report to having had an outright negative experience with a brand on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Treating social solely as a broadcast channel spells disaster.

So what can be done?

First, get to the root of the issue: Why is my brand not responding? Is it time? Other resources? Or is my team simply uneasy with the questions and comments we’re receiving? Do we need a more comprehensive plan for handling negative feedback? Do we have an incentive plan to reward people for their public displays of affection? Answer these questions, and then take steps to eliminate the roadblocks.

After you get your resources in order, determine how to best slice and dice the different messages. If your brand is more advanced on social—perhaps supported by a cross-functional team—you need to ensure that you’re speaking with a unified voice, while still empowering agents to respond in an authentic, personalized way. Smart social tools powered by machine learning can help improve your response rates and times through a dynamic database of key messaging.

For brand marketers, this may seem more like a customer service or support issue than a matter of effective communications. The truth: It is. But as your organization reaches social maturity, be the leader who rethinks how you enable your organization for the modern social era.

Gone are the days of spray-and-pray tactics. In social, the best way to maximize your brand exposure is by giving people what they want first and foremost—in this case, that’s timely responses. In turn, people are likely to reward you by becoming brand advocates. In fact, 75% of people say they are more inclined to post something positive about your brand on social if you provide good service first; another 70% may even make a purchase.

Simply put, social customer care is brand marketing. More importantly, social can move the marketing needle in a measurable way. All it takes is the simple gesture of a friendly, helpful response.

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