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How can businesses keep up with customer expectations for social media follow-ups?

3 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week we asked, When you post about a brand on a social network, do you expect that brand to see that post and respond in some way? The results:

  • I expect a response only when I’ve addressed a brand directly, such as by posting on its Facebook page: 57.14%
  • I don’t expect a response, but it’s nice when it happens: 27.59%
  • I expect brands to respond to any post that mentions them, and I become upset if I don’t hear from them: 9.36%
  • I don’t expect a response and would prefer brands didn’t reach out to me: 3.45%
  • No opinion: 2.46%

For about 95% of SmartBrief readers, brand responses to social media mentions are encouraged, if not downright mandated. Heck, I’m as jaded of a social media user as you’re likely to come across, and I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling when a business thanks me for mentioning it — and a cold, distant feeling when I’m ignored.

As social media professionals, we’ve become victims of our own success. The question increasingly isn’t “Should I respond to customers via social?” so much as “How am I ever going to find time to respond to all of these people?” What used to be an easy way to surprise and delight a customer is something many customers have come to expect — no matter how hard it is for a business to keep up with all of those mentions.

How can you make all of these responses manageable? You can make your social media presence a little easier to handle by setting some clear priorities.

  • Follow the preference of 57% of SmartBrief readers and prioritize conversations that happen on channels you control, such as your blog or Facebook wall. I’m not saying you should ignore everyone else — but you might want to give the people who came to you directly priority.
  • Focus on high-emotion reactions, whether they’re positive or negative. A lot of social media chatter is neutral in sentiment. Good things can come out of responding to neutral mentions — but you want to take care of superfans and constructive critics first.
  • Handle responses in batches. It’s much more efficient that way.
  • In the case of a more elaborate request, it’s OK to send a message publicly acknowledging the request and then following up with a private message that attempts to move the request to a more formal channel.

By using your social media response time more efficiently, you can do a better job of meeting fan expectations and enhance your brand’s online reputation. Remember to treat every customer you respond to like a person — social media responses lose their effectiveness if they become routine or lack follow-through.

How do you handle social media mentions?