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Is Your Business Responsive on Social Media?

Is your small business failing to fulfill consumers’ basic expectations about social media? Many small businesses start a social media campaign, maybe creating a presence on one or two channels, but then their participation drops to the occasional post or tweet. Or maybe you got really excited about the potential of social media, and you started participating in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, you name it. Suddenly you find you’ve spread yourself too thin and you can’t keep up with all of the avenues you’re involved with.

That’s a problem, because consumers expect businesses to be responsive on social media, a new study from LiveOps and Harris Interactive found. A whopping 85 percent of consumers say that the way a company handles customer interactions and complaints on social media is a reflection of its overall customer service. More than one-third (34 percent) of respondents say if they have a problem with a company, the first place they’ll go to air the issue is the company’s social media channels.  Younger consumers are especially likely to use social media for customer service purposes—50 percent of Gen X and 71 percent of Gen Y say they’ve used social media to initiate communication with a brand recently.

But while consumers are reaching out on social media, they feel companies are falling short in their responses. The study found some 70 percent of complaints on Facebook and Twitter go ignored by companies.

Responding to your customers on social media not only makes a difference to your brand by preventing people from badmouthing you online, but also to your bottom line: The study found customers who felt companies were responsive on social media spent an average of 30 percent more with those firms.

What it boils down to is this: There’s no longer a divide between customer service online, on the phone, in your store and on social media. Consumers perceive it all as one big thing—your brand. If any aspect of your customer service falls short, it affects their perception of your business as a whole.

What can you do?

  • Monitor your social media accounts. Use social media monitoring tools like Sprout Social or Trackur to keep on top of what’s said about your business. Set up Google Alerts on your company name so you can catch mentions of your business on the Web.
  • Don’t stretch yourself too thin. If you can’t be responsive on 10 social media channels, dial it back. Figure out which social media accounts matter the most to your business, and focus there. As your mom always said, it’s better to do one thing well than 5 things poorly.
  • Be real. Customers appreciate authenticity on social media. When they have a problem, often they just want to be heard. Responding quickly and being willing to listen will go a long way toward resolving any hard feelings that may exist.
Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

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Discussion (2) Comment

  1. Appreciate the mention of Sprout Social, Rieva! We’re certainly big proponents of brands being responsive and engaging with their audience online. Your customers are going to talk about you whether you’re there or not, and actively monitoring and replying can help you be part of that conversation.

    We also recently released a new tool that allows companies to run a free report to view how responsive they are on social media and how they compare to similar businesses ( Hope this helps encourage some organizations to make the effort to engage more!

    Brit Thompson | Social Marketing Manager at Sprout Social

  2. Andy BealVisitor

    Thanks for recommending Trackur in your post Rieva.

    Certainly companies can do a lot better with their social customer service and your three bullet points are a great place to start!

    Andy Beal


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