Many online messages posted on company pages or sent via feeds are left unanswered. This poses grave risks for the company’s image, given that this form of interaction is becoming essential - provided of course that it’s well managed.

Companies Not Sufficiently Attentive to Social Media Fans

Some 70% of all questions posted by fans on a company Facebook page or by subscribers to the Twitter account of a major brand go unanswered. This is an alarming figure, warns Socialbakers, a specialist in analysing social media, which thinks that companies are not yet sufficiently dedicated to creating community loyalty via social media. This view is shared by Jacques Ehny, Customer Relationship Manager with the digital marketing agency Uniteam, who spoke to L'Atelier. He has even noticed that companies are cutting down on their activity in this area. "We’re seeing more and more companies choosing to backpedal at the moment, rather than risk making a mistake, in spite of the added value that interacting with customers on social media can bring," he told us. Even more surprising, the Socialbakers study finds that 25% of global companies have a closed wall on Facebook – i.e. users can't post questions or feedback directly. Such a policy would seem to run contrary to the interaction that is the very goal and nature of such tools and in the longer term it could rebound against the companies that take this approach.

Advice to companies: open your wall and respond faster

According to the study, this approach is putting a brake on converting fans into potential purchasers. Jacques Ehny firmly believes that it has an impact on a brand’s reputation. "The way fans react is of vital importance; companies mustn’t take a minimalist attitude to it," he stressed. Whatever the real reason behind this hesitant behaviour, Socialbakers suggests that the first thing a company should do is to open up its Facebook wall to comments, as that is where at least 65% of all questions to companies are put nowadays. The social media analyst also strongly encourages firms to reply to questions and comments as quickly as possible, pointing out that the average time taken by companies to respond on social media is currently 26 hours. The report underlines that certain sectors are more what it calls ‘socially devoted’ than others, and says that companies from all sectors ought to be following their example. The top performers here are to be found in the telecoms sector, where companies achieve an average response rate to postings of over 60.4%.

Follow your competitors’ example

A model performer here is the Guatamalan mobile operator Claro, which has been achieving a response rate of 97% on its Facebook page, with an average response time of just 21 minutes. Following behind telecoms companies come the airlines, with a response rate of 55%. Among these is the low-cost Mexican airline Volaris, which manages to answer an average of 3,000 questions every 48 minutes. Then there’s Netherlands-based carrier KLM, which boasts a response rate of 94.14% and an average response time of 27 minutes. According to Jacques Ehny, "this is hardly surprising, given the volume of interactions and the high customer expectations in these sectors." He also gave his view that in general France is lagging well behind the United States when it comes to response rates and interaction via social media, especially in the retail sector. However, he thinks that the fashion sector in France actually performs far better on this type of communication than the study’s figure of just 41.5% for the sector worldwide.