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You probably heard many cases of how social media can negatively influence companies, and how users 'bragging' on social media can become a catastrophe.

It's not only companies, social media is also about influencing countries and their governments. It is absolutely clear, that during the past years, social media got people and corporations closer to each other then anything, it allowed us to communicate faster, communicate more effectively with each other.

Without social media, and of course online communication in general, we might now be aware of issues in some countries. Information in social media spreads extremely fast, and that really is a game changing thing, even for the internet. 

And for companies, companies have to rethink the way they communicate. For decades, consumers have been communicating with brands over mail or the telephone. There is one key problem to that: If you get a bad reply, the conversation is always closed. 

I have a great example that I heard by Earl Wilkinson from the International News Media Association (INMA), who said that initially, communication was like trees.

There was only a tree and communication was in mass to everyone (radio, TV, print), then, branches came along and we started to have different verticals (specific magazines, specific newspapers).

With online coming to the picture, leaves came to the tree, and information sources like blogs, little clips, articles, became quickly available. But with social media, the shift was completed, when the, as Earl put it, the "damn leaves started talking to each other". 

For companies, that's something of a very new thing. They have to be careful every day. Some companies pretty much get this now, but definitely not all have transferred to the social media shift.

One of the many examples could be British Airways, who have decided that it's best to enter Facebook and quickly close the walls for user feedback (wall posts).

Now that's the most arrogant thing a brand, especially a consumer brand, can do in social media. If you want to be social and enter social media, then be social and talk to your fans, have them ask questions, do customer care there if necessary.

At Socialbakers, our mission is to measure and analyze this social media shift. For example, we measure if companies respond in social media, and honestly, it's a disaster.

Our studies say companies only respond to 5% of all their Wall questions on average, here is the breakdown by industry:

This chart clearly shows the sectors that get it a little more. Obviously some of these categories don't need to have any major response rate, FMCG for example.

But all the Telecom, Services, Airlines and others should have a response rate between 65 and 75% to all user questions. That is being social. 

These stats echo the findings of an earlier study covered on this blog, which found that retailers were, in general, unresponsive on Facebook and Twitter

Jan Rezab

Published 17 October, 2011 by Jan Rezab

Jan Rezab is CEO at Candytech & Socialbakers and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

8 more posts from this author

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Elizabeth Bell

Elizabeth Bell, Independent Consultant at Quintry

So even the best sectors are only responding to just over 25% of questions? Is this direct questions to the brand or just comments? Not all comments would require a response, but if it is direct questions, even 25% is pretty terrible. Customers treat Facebook like any other customer services channel and companies really have to start accepting this and managing their Facebook pages in a similar way to their contact centres.

about 5 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

Interesting. It seems to be shooting a brand in its own foot to have questions in a public platform and not provide an answer.

We've recently launched some software (niche market - church based musicians) and realised that we were getting the same questions emailed to us. Decided to use the Facebook page as a question forum instead http://www.facebook.com/WorshipBackingBand

We're still figuring out if this is a sensible move as it obviously gives a public platform to showing potential bugs/issues with the software. But it has been a good opportunity for us to demonstrate immediate response to questions and to reassure buyers.

We're watching how it develops. Would be interested to know of other companies using Facebook in this way.

about 5 years ago

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Nick

I wrote about this sort of thing in April. After seeing and experiencing a lot of the same issues. I call it The Happy Birthday Syndrome (as people do the same things on their birthday, including myself) it is imperative for companies to correct this type of thing. Social media is a full CRM tool not just an advertising platform. Can read my post here http://nickmarinimarketing.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/the-birthday-syndrome/

about 5 years ago

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Joshua March

It's good that this is being recognised as an issue - and we completely agree with the premise. However Facebook comments are not all questions or complaints, so looking at the percentage of all comments and posts with a response is misleading, and doesn't really say much about the company. If they post a cool video and get hundreds of comments saying 'I love this!' that's a good thing - and none of them need a response.

The only way to really understand whether companies are doing a good job or not is to actually dig into the type of comments they've responded to (or ignored). We did this over the summer for ten of the top UK retailers, and are currently doing the same research on the top US department stores.

Our UK whitepaper is available on slideshare here: http://www.slideshare.net/conversocial/whos-ignoring-their-customers

about 5 years ago

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Adil

any link to how many posts were studied, region etc?? 95% sounds too high..

about 5 years ago

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Eric May

I agree more needs to be known about the study's methodology, but the article's quote about the advantages "social media got people and corporations closer to each other then anything, it allowed us to communicate faster, communicate more effectively with each other" is telling. Social media improves communication, agreed. But the real reason for the study's modest results may be related to how much increased business (measured in sales, turnover, profit, paying customers, projects, deals etc.) actually resulted from engagement with social media. So far, it seems those promoting social media the most are the same people who stand to benefit the most if it succeeds, in particular social media companies which are positioning themselves to sell the priceless demographic data they are harvesting from their millions of users to advertisers, and for big money.

about 5 years ago

Jan Rezab

Jan Rezab, CEO at Socialbakers

Adil: A couple hundred thousand.
Elizabeth: These are direct questions in separate wall posts. Shocking, right?

about 5 years ago

Elizabeth Bell

Elizabeth Bell, Independent Consultant at Quintry

Yes, that is shocking. I would suggest that it would be less damaging to a brand to have no Facebook presence at all, than to set up a page and then ignore the majority of people trying to communicate with them.
Interestingly, Simon Harrow from Kiddicare spoke at JUMP last week about how their Facebook page is now managed by their customer services team. Other retailers have also started to do this and it makes total sense to treat Facebook (and Twitter) as an additional channel of customer service, rather than solely as a marketing channel.

about 5 years ago

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