Did you know that 82% of social media messages to retailers go Unanswered within 72 hours? Neither did I until I found a great article written by Chris Lake. Like me, Chris was browsing for his usual fix of social media and marketing insights when he came across some interesting or perhaps shocking data.
A study by Sprout Social, investigated how efficient brands are at responding on social media platforms. The results indicate that most were non-responsive and that retail business were amongst the biggest culprits.
And the slam dunk: “82% of social media messages to retailers go unanswered in within 72 hours.”
According the the study the average waiting time was 12 hours across all companies, with retailers standing out as being very poor with social.
Lake went on to say “Absolute madness, if you ask me, given that most retailers face stiff competition and surely everybody knows about the benefits of a positive customer experience by now?”
I would be inclined to agree seeing as social media is a direct way to engage with your clients and customers, most have their device in hand and check social/mobile more than they do their own emails.
4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop
This should surprise no one. Mobile users are shoppers, and we’ve got data to prove it. Smart retailers (like Target) are recognizing this trend and incentivizing the use of mobile phones within the store with discounts and coupons targeted at mobile users. Many restaurants are doing the same thing by offering a free drink, appetizer or a coupon code to those that check in using Foursquare, Yelp or Facebook.
Thats not all , today’s consumers are spending over 85 percent of their time on their smartphones using native applications, but the majority of their time – 84 percent – is spent using just five non-native apps they’ve installed from the App Store.
Those five apps will vary from person to person. For some, their top five could include social media or gaming, while others may spend more time in instant messaging.
This data further supports a study by Nielsen published in 2015 which also reiterated that there does appear to be an upper limit to how many apps consumers use on a monthly basis. Nielsen’s report also noted that users would only use 26 to 27 apps per month in total.
Social-mobile rules: 60% or so of social media time is spent not on desktop computers but on smartphones and tablets.
According to another report published BI Intelligence that calculates an Engagement Index for top major social networks and compares their performance in terms of time-spend terms per-user, on desktop and mobile. They also look at how the different top activities on social media — photo-sharing, status updates, etc. — are indexing in terms of activity, and which sites drive the highest volume in each category. This report complements our popular reports on social media demographics and global audience sizes.
Here are the findings
- Social is now the top Internet activity: People in the US spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.
- Social-mobile rules: 60% or so of social media time is spent not on desktop computers but on smartphones and tablets.
- Facebook attracts roughly seven times the engagement that Twitter does, when looking at both smartphone and PC usage, in per-user terms.
- Snapchat is a smaller network than WhatsApp, but outpaces it in terms of time-spend per user.
- Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn made major successful pushes last year to increase engagement on their mobile sites and apps. The new race in social media is not for audience per se, but for multi-device engagement.
- Multi-device social media: Our analysis is based on BI Intelligence’s social media Engagement Index, which compares the effectiveness of social networks in keeping individual users engaged across smartphones and desktop PCs.
Retailers are trying to get it right but are now sending too many messages
Yes, unfortunately they are actually sending too many messages these days. In fact, the amount of messages sent has doubled since the start of 2015.
From this we can understand and fundamental problem, the amount of incoming questions has outpaced the ability to reply to them.
Sprout Social estimated that the average retailer would attract 1,500 inbound messages over the holiday season (aka Q4 2015).
Chris Lake went on to say that “It sounds a lot, until you break it down: it’s actually less than 17 messages per day”
The problem with social media management
On of the key issues is that many social media teams are simply inadequately staffed, however I would be surprised that its not possible to respond to 17 messages in a single day within a reasonable time frame. If your struggling with this problem then you probably don’t have a social media team, but you should have someone in your business that cares enough about your customers to want to respond.
The problem gets bigger… The study also shows that retailers have been aggressively distributing their promotional messaging across their social media channels. The average retailer actually sends up-to three times more “brand” messages than they do replies. Which implies thats branding and sales messaging is more important than responding to their customers.
Chris Lake further said that “It seems that the ridiculous obsession with customer acquisition is literally driving people insane. Smart brands know that customer experience is what really makes a business tick: customer satisfaction leads to retention and referrals, and that in turn leads to profit”
Don’t ignore your customers when you can satisfy them
I have outlined some of Chris Lakes takeaways and suggestions to fixing the problem, and how brands can improve what they are doing this area. As Chris explains in his original article “it’s rather more nuanced than this”, but these tips should get you going in the right direction.
Fix your legacy issues
What if your company is not set up for social media management?
A common problem that can be solved by updating the company structure, culture or both. These can be hard fixes based on resources, staff and costs amongst others, but if you prioritise and allocate responsibilities amongst your existing staff you can certainly find a way to get this working.
To make a significant impact, you will need to have commitment, which will take time and effort. Alternatively you can always outsource, there a number of low cost and viable social media management, service providers that can step in to manage it for you, either by doing a fixed number of hours or complete daily management, leaving you time to get with important things like running your business and getting more sales in.
You need to make sure that your boss – and other key stakeholders – don’t perceive social as a free channel for sales and marketing teams to exploit. That gets old real fast. When was the last time you turned on the TV to watch the ads? Social Media can have a positive impact on your sales, if done right and depending on the channel, such as LinkedIn for B2B Social Selling and Twitter for B2C social media selling. but its only one part of the sales funnel and needs another important component, which is a content plan.
Operationally, the main challenge is usually where to position social within the business. Marketing has often led the way, but there’s a really strong argument for service teams to help manage public-facing platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Ideally, social will be cross-functional and managed by someone who isn’t obsessed with short-term sales and marketing ‘wins’. Otherwise you end up sending lots of promotional tweets and not bothering to reply to people for days.
Find a social champion
Who should manage your business social media accounts? It’s 2016 and most businesses should be all over social. Just like any other strategic channel, it requires ownership.
Laker says “In my opinion, the customer experience officer (or similar customer-centric bod) is best placed to set a strategy, demand some budget, and shake things up” He recommends installing someone passionate with the right level of seniority in order to influence the powers that be, in order to bring about real change. Again you can always outsource or bring in a consultant to help get you started.
Formulating the business case
Have you heard this before “we know it’s popular but we’re not convinced that it’s right for our brand.”
Once you have a social champion, you’re halfway there. Now it’s time to get the right level of buy-in. That means putting together a business case to influence strategic direction.
All types of business can use social platforms to improve performance. Sales, service and satisfaction will all benefit if you do the right things. In addition, the key brand metrics should improve. All of these things have a tendency to multiply and snowball if you really stomp on the gas.
There are also less tangible benefits, such as competitor benchmarking. You can directly measure engagement (which is a real thing, rather than a conceptual buzzword) and compare your performance with the competition.
It’s important that you measure the results properly. Perhaps it’s time to put last-touch attribution into retirement!
Figure out value
“But social doesn’t generate sales!” Lake says “Classic. Anybody who says this is borderline nuts.” Your response should be, “Prove it.”
They won’t be able to, because they’re measuring things incorrectly and don’t understand the role social plays. There’s much more to life than last-touch attribution, otherwise brands wouldn’t spend a single dollar on TV advertising. Right?
Their response to your response might also be, “Prove it.” You can find plenty of case studies that you can use to demonstrate how other companies achieve a return on investment.
Case studies and proof aside, just take a logic break and forget the term ‘social media’ for a moment. Instead, think about audiences, and what it takes to make an impression on them.
Social media channels are ostensibly ‘free’ platforms for you to make use of. Yes, you’ll need some content and some people to manage social, but – unlike TV and other forms of advertising – you don’t need to pay for reach. Yes there are paid post options but thats not a necessity to build organic engagement, traffic and sales with social media. With web and mobile, these days ads are much more short lived, but content can crate a much more meaningful lasting impressions especially if delivered through the right social channel.
What you do need is a clear understanding of what makes your audience tick. Once you know what people like to tune into, and where they like to hang out, you can start your charm offensive. People respond to the personal touch and to anything that elicits strong emotions. That means good service and great content.
Besides, if charm doesn’t work, you can do the old school thing and buy reach via paid social ads. Paid social is likely to be a big area of growth in 2016, with the more mature teams hiring dedicated staff in this area.
Hire the right person
Once you’ve got the green light, you need to appoint someone to look after social. It takes time and benefits from undivided attention.
Make sure they can integrate with existing teams in the right way, they operate best as a kind of umbrella across the business, working with other departments as necessary. Sales, marketing, service, research… there are plenty of avenues to explore.
The study referenced is one of many that show how immature some brands are when it comes to social. Others may tell a different story, however service and attention levels on social platforms leaves a lot to be desired. Some brands are not even using social yet or have the right channels set up.
14 Point action plan to get started with social media for your business
- Identify which social media platforms your target customers are using and use those too. Are there more customers to be found on Twitter, Facebook or on specialist blogs and forums?
- Research the social media your customers are using. How do other businesses use them? Make a note of what works and what doesn’t.
- Devise a strategy for using social media in your business. Set measurable and realistic objectives and goals for your marketing, and look for ways to blend your social media marketing with more traditional methods.
- Create a profile on your chosen platform/s, including brief, essential details about who you are and what you do, and a link to your website.
- Engage potential customers by stressing what you can do for them.
- Apply your branding guidelines to your profiles to maintain consistency and establish your visual identity quickly.
- Use a tone that is appropriate to the platform. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are snappy and informal, so you can afford to be light-hearted at times.
- Make a fan page the hub of your online community if using Facebook. If using Twitter,monitor mentions of your business, product or service to track potential followers. If you participate in forums, always provide a link to your website, your fan page, your blog or your Twitter account.
- Listen and respond to feedback, and offer help and advice — don’t simply broadcast sales messages; have conversations with your customers.
- Inform your audience about your sector and link to other sources of information, such as news stories, videos and podcasts. Share your knowledge.
- Use relevant keywords about your sector, product or service frequently in your social media marketing. These will be picked up by search engines and make it easier for potential customers to discover you.
- Run competitions via social media and offer exclusive online deals to your fans and followers. These will help to generate word-of-mouth advertising — the most powerful form of social media currency.
- Be active on your chosen platform/s. Update your profile and check your messages regularly. Show your audience that you are engaged. You can also advertise. Facebook ads allow you to segment your advertising into the key demographics of ASL (age, sex, location).
- Measure your progress against your objectives. Both Facebook and Twitter, for example, have tools that will tell you how you are doing. If you are not meeting your objectives, find out how you can change your approach.
- consider where your target audience congregates online
- have a presence on relevant social media platforms
- make sure your profile is up-to-date and communicates the essential details
- engage with potential new customers
- if in doubt get expert social media advice
- expect instantaneous results
- substitute existing practices for social media — incorporate them
- use social media ONLY to push sales messages
Are you already using or thinking about setting up social media for your business? Has it been effective for your business what would you like to improve?