Corporate Eye

Brand Social Responsiveness is Far from Perfect

questionAccording to research by Social Bakers, the number of people who have chosen to use social media to get answers to customer service questions rather than telephone, email, or any other method has skyrocketed in the past year. Brands are getting better at answering more consumer questions via social media, but they have a long way to go to meet consumer expectations related to brands’ social responsiveness.

During the second quarter of 2012, brand Facebook pages tracked by Social Bakers received 756,000 customer questions, and just 360,000 of those questions were actually answered by brands. In the first quarter of 2013, the number of questions jumped to 1.2 million but only 744,000 of those questions were answered. In other words, the number of questions that consumers asked on brand Facebook pages grew by 30% in less than one year, and brands were able to increase the number of responses they provided to those questions from 47.6% to 62%.

In fact, brands in all industries tracked improved their social response rates between the second quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. That’s great news, but it’s not good enough if brands want to meet customer expectations.

The same could be said of brands’ response times to customer questions published on Facebook. In the second quarter of 2012, Social Bakers reported that the average response time for a company to answer a customer question published on its Facebook page was 20.9 hours. During the first quarter of 2013, that response time had increased to 22.6 hours. The number of questions consumers are asking on brand Facebook pages continues to rise, but brands haven’t invested in the necessary manpower or developed the necessary processes to answer those questions in a timely manner as consumers expect.

It’s only a matter of time until that customer expectation of quick service via brand social media profiles, like Facebook pages, will grow into a customer demand. The brands that are ready for the shift from expectation to demand will reap the benefits of their forward thinking. Consumers are abandoning the frustrating automated telephone response systems, unhelpful customer service representatives, and long hold times that they’re accustomed to receiving when they call companies with questions. Instead, they’re turning to social media to directly ask companies questions — a medium where they expect instant interaction. Furthermore, that interaction must be personal, which means customer service telephone scripts and automated responses won’t work.

What do you think? How does your brand perform in social responsiveness?

Image: Sigurd Decroos

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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+.