A new report from Sprout Social, based on analysis of 247,000 public social profiles (93,000 on Facebook, 114,000 on Twitter, and 40,000 on Instagram), reveals a startling insight: within the realm of social media, there is a distinct disconnect between customer expectations and company responses.

Overall, the majority of companies analyzed are significantly lagging on response times to customer service messages on social media forums. And, as the report demonstrates, customers today expect a timely response on social media, much like email and website-based communications.

Here are some of the main insights revealed in this report.

  • There is a huge gap between consumer expectation and the reality of company responses on social media. The average brand response time on social comes in at around 10 hours, even though most people consider four hours to be reasonable. In addition, a whopping 89 percent of social messages go ignored, with brands posting 23 promotional messages for every one responding message. The consumer response to all this? Around 36 percent will shame the brand publicly, while one in three will switch to a competitor.
  • Companies/brands and consumers see social media much differently. A surprising 90 percent of people surveyed have used social media in some way to communicate directly with a brand, with social sites surpassing phone and email as the preferred method of communication. In contrast, most major brands consider social media to be an advertising forum, a place to make announcements, promote events, and post other types of ads.
  • There are significant costs when customers are ignored on social media. According to report findings, 73 percent of consumers have had a negative experience with a brand on social media. The result of this is less brand loyalty and a lower likelihood of the consumer actually using the product or service. In addition, consumers who have this experience are more likely to go to a competitor and more likely to post negative feedback.
  • There are significant benefits to positive social interactions. When customers receive a prompt response on social media and/or feel heard, 70 percent are more likely to use that brand’s product or service and 75 percent are likely to share their good experience on their own profile. In addition, 65 percent report more brand loyalty and 25 percent are less likely to go to a competitor and/or make negative statements publicly.

The takeaway from all this? Small businesses have a great opportunity to leverage social media sites as more than just a forum for promotional messages. With so many major corporations dropping the ball on this one, simple prompt and attentive communication with your customers can make a huge impact on customer loyalty and retention, and the growing of your business brand.

Read the Sprout Social report:

Shunning Your Customers on Social?