The Demands of Social Media

Last year, the potential of social media for business came to the forefront of SEO; in fact, social media optimisation was born as businesses tried to leverage the immense popularity of networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. But one of the issues that many saw was that they overextended themselves. Arguably, this is better than not having any form of social media presence, but not much better. It doesn’t allow for meaningful engagement with customers on any one front because you are juggling so many profiles. Another issue is that customers who use social media to communicate with businesses expect fast answers.

According to research done by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK and Lightspeed Research, 44 percent of consumers make product or brand complaints online. Eight percent of those polled say they complained via Facebook, and two percent went to Twitter. While these numbers are lower than those who still relied on mail (regular, old-fashioned postal mail), they do comprise a very demanding customer population. Twenty-five percent expect a reply to a complaint within 60 minutes, and six percent expect a reply within 10 minutes.

Why should businesses strive to answer consumer complaints on social media sites when such a small percentage of their target customer base uses that forum to voice their concerns? Lightspeed’s research marketing director, Ralph Risk, explains, “While only a small proportion of people currently use social media channels to complain, the impact can be greater with more people witnessing the exchange.” No one sees a private email to a company, but a comment posted on a public Facebook account has the potential to reach far more people.

Risk continues, “While this provides companies with a potential risk it also gives them a huge opportunity to highlight their excellent service, and the brands that embrace this successfully are likely to reap the rewards.”

Communicating via social media is going to become a more sought-after method by consumers.  Currently, only about a third of companies provide this opportunity. More will have to catch up to cater to their customers.

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