Corporate Eye

Brand Engagement and Customer Care in Social Media

twitter iphoneThe Sprout Social Index: Engagement and Customer Care report analyzes brand responsiveness, industry responsiveness, channel growth, and consumer behavior to identify how well brands are meeting consumer expectations for social media engagement and customer service. Unfortunately, the report reveals that as more and more consumers turn to Twitter and Facebook to communicate with brands when they need answers to questions and solutions to problems, brand performance is declining both in terms of response rate and response time.

The problem for brands is volume. The Sprout Social Index reports that messages sent to brands on Twitter and Facebook that require a response or attention has increased by 175% in the past year. On a per message fan basis, the Sprout Social Index reports that Twitter users are more engaged with brands than Facebook users. On average, brands receive 60 messages per 1,000 followers each month on Twitter versus 39 messages per 1,000 fans per month on Facebook. This is most likely due to the more open nature of Twitter where users can share content without being friends with another user (or brand) or following another user (or brand).

Consumer Expectations for Brands Have Changed

Regardless of the tool, consumers are turning to social media for customer service, sales support, and more. As such, they’re expectations for acceptable brand response rates and times are changing, but brands are falling behind. According to the report, average social media response time across all industries dropped from 10.9 hours to 11.3 hours between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013. During the same time period, response rates on both Facebook and Twitter dropped below 20% overall. Justyn Howard, Sprout Social CEO, explains why this matters to brands:

“A 20% response rate to messages requiring attention means that four out of five consumer inquiries go unanswered. This would not be tolerated in traditional channels like phone and email and is not a sustainable practice.”

Brand Reputation Hinges on Effective Social Care

This isn’t just a customer service issue, because social media is public-facing. Today, it’s a strategic brand imperative to increase budgets, manpower, training, performance analyses, and investments in appropriate tools to ensure social media content and interactions represent your brand in a manner that consistently supports your brand promise.

The Sprout Social Index offers seven suggestions for brands to improve their social performance, including:

  • Staff for experience: Don’t put interns in charge of your most public and visible channel (behind in-person).
  • Build for responsiveness: Your social team should have the right skills, training, information and authority to respond quickly and appropriately.

Follow the link at the beginning of this article to view all of the data in the report as well as the full tips to provide better social customer care to support your brand. If you haven’t done it already, make 2014 the year where you prioritize brand engagement and customer care in social media.

Image: William Hook

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.