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The following is a guest post from Ashley Verrill. – JW

Once upon a time, businesses used social media primarily for promotion. Public relations and marketing teams would blast out press releases, blog posts and other campaigns; and customers were expected to consume and share that content. While the channel is still useful for these purposes today, companies also need to execute a social response strategy.

This is primarily due to a shift in customer expectations. People are less interested in what you say about yourself, unless it matches what their friends, family and social circles also believe. So brands need to make an effort to listen and respond to organic social media conversations. Consider, for example, that customers on Twitter expect a response within two hours of tweeting a company, according to one Oracle report.

With this in mind, I devised an experiment to see how 14 of the nation’s top brands were responding to these shifting expectations. The study involved sending one message to each company everyday for a month. Then we measured the percent of times they responded, and how long it took them to reply when we did hear back. I discovered that companies such as Coca-Cola and Mastercard responded just 14 percent of the time on average. While we didn’t expect them to respond to every message, these results were definitely a shock.

Below is an infographic with the entire results from the race (click to enlarge).

Social Customer Service


Four Software Advice employees used their personal Twitter accounts to send customer service tweets to 14 leading consumer brands in seven industries. Each company received one tweet per weekday for four consecutive weeks.

During the first and third weeks, our employee participants used the brand’s Twitter name with an @ symbol. Using the @ triggers a notification to the account owner that they’ve been mentioned in a tweet. In the second and fourth weeks of the race, only the brand name was used.

We consulted with social media experts to develop questions they felt should receive a response, based on social media management best practices.

The questions fell into five categories:

• Urgent, or I need help right this second

• Positive (“thank you!”)

• Negative

• A question from their FAQ page

• Technical, or needs more than one interaction to solve

Ashley Verrill is an analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has been featured or cited in Inc., Forbes, Business Insider, GigaOM,, Yahoo News, the Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal, among others. She also produces original research-based reports and video content with industry experts and thought leaders.

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