A Social Media Presence Isn’t Enough – Brands Need Engagement [Report]

A new report from Sprinklr finds that simply developing social media platforms isn't enough for brands — conversing with customers is to the key to avoiding alienating them.

Just about every business uses social media these days, but are they using it in the right way? Many aren’t, according to a recent report from Sprinklr, a company specializing in social media analytics and management.

In fact, while 80 percent of companies believe they deliver superior customer service, only 8 percent of customers agree, according to management consulting firm Bain & Company. And a lot of that comes down to social media engagement, which is increasingly important to consumers.

If a consumer contacts a business with a question or complaint, they typically expect a response within the hour. However, a Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) survey conducted in February shows that only 17 percent of businesses respond to customer complaints via social media within that hour time period and a surprising 21 percent of businesses never respond at all, which often leads to customers feeling negatively toward brands and sharing their bad experiences with their social networks.

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Studying data from 120 large companies such as Samsung, Macy’s, and BMW, SMMU found that 11 percent of brands have lost revenue, 15 percent have lost customers, and 26 percent have tarnished reputations, all because of negative comments on social media.

“The power has shifted to the customer who’s connected,” says Jeremy Epstein, vice president of marketing at Sprinklr. “They collectively have more information about the company than the company and brand has about itself.”

And with a fifth of the entire world’s population on Facebook – the second most-visited website on Earth, with 57 percent of users logging in daily – everyone is an influencer, which has changed the way business is done. Still, Epstein says, many brands don’t make social media a priority because they don’t realize its value or its impact.

Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report (SMMIR) surveyed 2,800 marketers and found that more than 60 percent of them use social media for less than 10 hours each week and 34 percent report using it for less than one hour.

But with 20.2 million followers on Facebook and a whole team of social media experts, Nike is not one of those brands. The sportswear giant maintains a separate Twitter handle for customer support, which is updated constantly throughout the day.

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“Staying engaged with athletes has always been a part of our ethos at Nike,” says Nike representative KeJuan Wilkins. “Scaling our capabilities to serve large social communities has been a positive challenge and one we’ve committed ourselves to mastering.”

SMMIR also found that half the brands surveyed believe social media improved sales and 77 percent believe it helped garner loyal fans, which ensures future sales. With social media, it’s not about how engaged followers are with a brand, but how engaged a brand is with its followers.

“If I’m just shouting at you the entire time, that’s not a relationship; you’re the audience,” Epstein says. “But if I say something and you respond to me and I respond to you, that’s a dialogue.”

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