Editor’s Note: To respond, or not to respond — that is the question! Based on this new research, consumers are likely to be more upset if you don’t answer other people’s questions and comments, than they are if their own get no response.

A response from a consumer brand advocate is not always enough

Not all social media users are convinced that connecting with companies on social sites will be more than a passing fad, according to research from Conversocial, but those that do seem to expect that the connection will be two-way.

The social media customer service software provider asked about user attitudes toward companies that left their questions on Facebook and Twitter unanswered; most said they would be at least a little bit angry, including over a quarter who would no longer do business with the company. At the same time, nearly 28% said they understood that companies don’t have time to respond to each consumer.

Brands may run into an even bigger problem, however, if potential customers see others’ questions going unanswered: just 11.7% said they wouldn’t care if they noticed this on a social media page, while the rest would be at least somewhat put off about buying from a company that ignores its customers.

Social customer service firm InboxQ similarly found that Twitter users want businesses to answer their questions, and doing so can boost purchase intent.

Conversocial also asked US social media users about the importance of different company communications via social media. Although consumers often say the biggest reason they follow a brand to begin with is to stay up-to-date on deals and discounts, they still considered customer service more important.

Level of Importance of Company

Brands with social media experience know they don’t need to respond to every ounce of negative buzz in the social sphere; often, letting consumer brand advocates do it for them can address the problem while also showing how loyal some customers are to the company. At the same time, however, leaving genuine questions, problems and complaints unanswered could leave customers feeling out in the cold—on a medium that is supposed to be all about dialogue.

SOURCE eMarketer

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