Twitter issued its initial public offering ( IPO) yesterday fully anticipating investors to respond immediately, and with lots and lots of cash. One could say they expected a response to the offering in the time it takes to Tweet “I’m in!” The business owners who use Twitter for marketing should reply so fast. Sadly, many do not, and as it happens, such delays in responding to customer Tweets, or failure to respond at all, can be costly.

As blogger Jessica Lee reported in a Nov. 1 Search Engine Watch post, a recent survey showed that failure to interact with Twitter users in a timely manner can hurt a brand. Lithium Technologies research showed that 70 percent of Twitter users who tweet about a particular brand or business expect a response. More than half — 53 percent — said they expect a response within an hour, and 14 percent want immediate interaction. Moreover, those same percentages increase markedly when the message is posted in complaint to a company’s product or service. Some 72 percent indicated that they expected a business to respond to their complaint in an hour.

And the consequences of ignoring a consumer tweet? They are many, and mostly bad. In fact, 60 percent of respondents said having their comments ignored would result in negative action. For starters, 29 percent said they would relay the lack of communication from the business to their circle of family, friends and other acquaintances in complaining about their treatment. Additionally, 26 percent said they would escalate their complaints through other communication forms, 24 percent said they would frequent the business less, 21 percent would refuse to recommend the business, and 15% would blast the business through social media.

One of the reasons the findings above are so important, Lee wrote, is the very reason people used Twitter to comment on the brand in the first place. According to the Lithium survey, most respondents said they engaged Twitter to advocate for the brand, providing positive feedback, recommending the brand or to show enthusiasm for the brand. So, in return for the pat on the back, consumers have come to expect a thank you. Or maybe a coupon. Or free stuff. Just some kind of response. And when that happens, conversely to the negative effects of the cold shoulder from a brand, the rewards can be great. Nearly half of respondents said they would recommend the brand through social media, and more than 40 percent said they would encourage friends and family to become customers, or praise the company through social media.

The big payoff for brands comes in the form of paying customers. More than a third of those surveyed said they would put their money where their tweets are, becoming more receptive to advertisements by the brand, and buying more of the company’s products.

Although individual incidents of poor Twitter etiquette can be harmful, especially if it becomes standard brand conduct, the majority of respondents said the lack of a timely response would not change their perception of a company in and of itself. However, 38 percent said they would have a more negative perception of a business that does not respond to tweets quickly. Oddly, such behavior would actually win the respect of 14 percent of those surveyed. That small segment of respondents said they would feel more positive about a brand that did not respond to a tweet.


Lee, Jessica. “Brands Expected to Respond Within an Hour on Twitter [Study]“, Search Engine Watch. 11/1/2013.