Overwhelmed by Social Messages, Brands Fail to Respond to Queries

We hear it repeatedly—brands should avoid entering the social media arena if they have no intention of joining the conversation with consumers and other influencers.

Yet a one-way conversation, or un-social media, if you will, is the reality, according to Sprout Social’s third annual Social Index 2015,” which says seven in eight social media messages sent to brands go unanswered. Some of the 15 industries monitored do better than others at answering social messages, sometimes because they receive fewer messages. The media/entertainment industry, which receives a large volume of messages, is at the bottom of the list, responding to just one of 12 social messages, SproutSocial says. Yet response rates are just part of the story. SproutSocial also examined response times. As the middle of the infographic states, customers are waiting longer to receive a response from brands. The quickest responders are education and utilities.

Brands are not totally at fault, Sprout Social VP Andrew Caravella says. While brands “have been ramping up” social teams, the volume of social media messages sent has overwhelmed them [ see top of infographic ]. In addition, while many brands have embraced social’s marketing prowess, some have yet to really use it as a PR tool.

His advice for PR pros: bring social “to the forefront of communications strategy” and “be vocal about the importance of being proactive (publishing content) and reactive (responding to messages).” While responsibility for social often resides in PR and communications, “we see it in HR…and elsewhere. With PR interacting with many departments, it should use that position” to guide brands’ policy on social media, he says.

1Source: Sprout Social Social Index 2015

This article originally appeared in the September 21, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.