Brands Failing In Timely Response To Customers On Social Media

Brand behaviors don’t even come close to syncing up with people's expectations on social media, according to new data from a recent Sprout Social study. People want a response, and they want it much faster than most organizations are either willing or able to give. According to Sprout’s new consumer survey, the average person sees social media much differently than the average brand.

While brands view Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as broadcast outlets for pumping out promotional content, consumers recognize these social channels as powerful portals for two-way dialogue.

90% of people surveyed have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand. What’s more, social surpasses phone and email as the first place most people turn to when they have a problem or issue with a product or service, according to the report.

Peoples Top Choice for Customer Care

Contact With Brand

% of Respondents

Social Media Communications


Website/Chat live




1-800 number




Source: Sprout, May 2016

Following this trend, the Sprout Index shows that the number of social messages needing a response from a brand has increased by 18% over the past year. In spite of the high volume of messages that require a response, brands reply to just 11% of people, says the report.

Promotions play an important role in a brand’s overall communications strategy, says the report, but the balance on social is way off. Brands send 23 promotional messages for every 1 response given to their audience. By far the worst ratio in the past three years, even though there are 10% more brand messages on social from a year ago.

Average Number of Messages Sent by Brands

  • Q1 2015        272
  • Q1 2016        299

People would simply like to hear back when they reach out to your brand. If your responses lag for a bit, that’s totally reasonable in the eyes of most people, but within an acceptable range of under 4 hours. After that, most people are out; in fact, they may even switch to a competitor.

People’s wait time vs. Brand response

  • Consumer expectation       <4 hours
  • Avg. Brand response time 10 hours

Unfortunately, most brands often move in the wrong direction at the wrong time. This misguided social effort results in considerable damage. According to our consumer survey:

  • 73% of people have had a negative experience with a brand on social media
  • 36% of people have used social to shame a company for poor customer service
  • 30% of people will go to competitor if a brand doesn’t respond

The cost of inadequate response

  • Less brand loyalty   (12.2% of Respondents)
  • Less like to use product/service   (26.1%)
  • More likely to choose competitor   (29.3%)
  • More likely to post negative feedback   (14.0%)

The study found that when respondents were asked how they feel when a brand responds or reaches out to them on social media, these were some of the responses:

  • 70% of people are more likely to use a brand’s product or service
  • 65% of people have more brand loyalty
  • 25% of people are less likely to go to a competitor
  • 25% of people are less likely to post negative things about the brand, product or service
  • 75% of people are likely to share a good experience on their own profile

Concluding, the report says that people expect the most interaction and information from consumer goods brands in the form of responses, promotional materials and relevant industry news. The good news, says the report, is that this gives the industry the most room to respond. The bad news, though, is that the industry currently responds to only 12.8% of its messages.

For additional insights about the study, please visit Sprout Social here.



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