T-Mobile, Target and Best Buy get it, but Netflix, Samsung Mobile and AT&T are botching it. These US brands were among the most and least responsive to inquiries from their Facebook fans in the last quarter of 2012, according to analytics firm Socialbakers.
The quarterly ranking of the most and least "socially devoted" companies, which Socialbakers launched in June 2012, is determined by subtracting the number of unanswered customer questions posed to company via their Facebook page from the number of answered ones. To be considered for the best list, brands have to respond to at least 65 percent of the questions posed to them.
T-Mobile USA got top honors in the previous quarter by answering 87 percent of the inquiries it received, with an average response time of 77 minutes. On the other end of the scale, Netflix's 4.4 percent response rate and its response time of 1473 minutes was the least socially devoted company.
"Consumers who use social media are used to responses being time sensitive, and they now expect the same of their brands, " says Jan Rezab, CEO at Socialbakers. "Some companies are not coping with this expectation."
The good news, however, is that companies overall are responding to more of their Facebook inquiries, he said. When Socialbakers started its ranking in June 2012, only about an average of 30 percent of all questions were answered by companies on Facebook, whereas two quarters later 55 percent of all questions have been answered. Average response times are also going down, from 20.9 hours in Q2 2012 to 13.7 hours in the last quarter.
Ironically, the faster the companies respond, the more inquiries they receive, which means they have to devote more time and resources to the effort. "Once consumers see their questions answered, the volume really kicks in," he notes. However Rezab believes companies will conclude that dealing with customer inquiries via social media is more cost effective, for example, than manning a call center.
Not every company appreciates being named and shamed of course, but savvy companies take the feedback to heart. Rezab said that one large German car manufacturer, whom he declines to name, recently used the news of making the worst list as a chance to convince top management that it needed to put more resources into social media. According to Socialbakers data, in the second quarter of 2012, Mercedes Benz had a zero percent response rate via Facebook and BMW had only a 4.4 percent response rate to customer inquiries.
Socialbakers has also begun measuring interaction on Twitter, and will soon analyze the depth of brands conversations with twitter followers, as well as evaluating the value of those brands that answer questions around the clock.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
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