Social media marketing is an opportunity for brands to provide customer service, but few respond quickly - if at all.

At the current trajectory, social media will eat up 22.4 percent of companies’ marketing budgets within the next five years. One of the reasons marketers are dedicating more money to social media is that they’ve realized the networks are gold mines for customer interactions – and customer service in particular.

social media marketing service

According to a McKinsey report, 70 percent of companies are using social media marketing for customer care in some form.

Despite marketers’ desire to turn social networks into valuable customer service channels, most brands are doing a lousy job delivering on that potential.

Locowise conducted a study of 900 Facebook Pages over the course of a month to find out how brands were handling customer service requests. It discovered that 87 percent of customers’ posts (including customer service requests) go unanswered.

Only 13 percent of companies that allow users to publish on their Timelines ever get back to their customers.

You wouldn’t ignore a client who was in your store with questions, concerns or complaints, so why do it online? It’s actually worse for your reputation to overlook these responses because they’re posted on your public profile, where prospects are going to learn about your business. What kind of an impression do you think that practice is going to give?

There’s room for response improvement as the study determined that timely answers are pretty rare:

  • 33% were answered within 1 hour

  • 12% were answered within 1-2 hours

  • 15% were answered within 2-4 hours

  • 9% were answered within 4-8 hours

  • 10% were answered within 10-12 hours

  • 21% were answered within 12-24 hours

Compare these response rates to customers’ expectations. According to The Social Habit, 24 percent of Americans expect to hear back from a company within 30 minutes and 42 percent expect an answer within the hour.

Buyers who don’t receive adequate acknowledgment are going to chock it up to poor customer service and defer to your competitors. Brafton previously reported that 38 percent of people form a negative opinion of a brand that doesn’t respond to them in that window.

On the flip side, people who receive a timely answer are more likely to recommend a company to their own social circles.

Social customer service is challenging because it takes time and attention to catch brand mentions and respond to them promptly. The benefits are there, if only companies develop the strategies – and more importantly – the teams, to provide good customer service on social media networks.

A good strategy entails:

  • Fast responses – Get back to someone within an hour with a message that at least acknowledges their comment

  • Follow up – If you don’t have an answer right away, get their contact information so you can follow up when you do

  • Short & sweet interactions – Respond, but remember you can always take the conversation offline with private messages and email. There’s no need to drag it out on your feed.

  • A direct line of communication – Provide a link to your customer service line or email address so they know where you reach you if they have a question

  • Positive reinforcement – Acknowledge the people who are saying good things about your company – not just the ones who have complaints.

Meet some of the members of our social media marketing team and how they tackle the biggest challenges for brands:

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.