It used to be that when a customer complained on Twitter about a company’s service or product, he got action. She got respect. Certainly said customer got a profuse apology for the poor experience whether it was the company’s fault or not. Then, per all PR experts’ advice, the company would quietly usher the customer off Twitter to a private channel where they could wrap up their business.
If current trends continue consumers will look back on such interactions as the good old days of social media–an era when they had the microphone, for once, and companies listened to what they had to say.
Some–perhaps many–companies do still view Twitter as primarily a customer service, and not marketing, channel. Increasingly, though, for a growing number of brands Twitter is all about marketing, all the time.
The microphone, in short, is being unplugged.
This was one trend teased out the latest annual study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which looks at how the fastest-growing corporations in the U.S. use social media.
One question executives were asked was if their company monitors its brands, products or company name in the social media space. Fifty-nine percent of companies do monitor for mentions–down from 70% in 2010.
Another study, by Social Media Marketing University, reports the same (58.4%) relatively low, percentage of companies using Twitter to monitor their brand.
Then there is Simple Measured’s recent finding that only 32 of the Interbrand 100 companies have a dedicated customer service handle on Twitter, only slightly more than in 2013. The good news is that companies have increased response rates; the bad news is that average response time has slowed.
It is a troubling decline from a customer service perspective, says Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D, director of Center for Marketing Research, when asked about this particular trend.
“It may be the result of a focus on hits, follows, likes, pins etc. to the exclusion of other strategies important for success,” she says. Besides cutting off what is a popular customer service channel, brands that don’t monitor their mentions leave themselves vulnerable to situations that can quickly spin out of control, Ganim Barnes continues. “Without constant monitoring of your brands or name, you could be the last to know something that could be potentially damaging.”
Where Twitter does appeal to companies is its sales potential. The Center for Marketing Research’s survey found that some 61% of respondents said there was potential sales growth for their business directly through Twitter. Only 55% said the same about Facebook and 31% about Pinterest.
It is a remarkable finding considering that Twitter’s growth stalled out last year at around 241 million users but Ganim Barnes says it makes sense, especially when you look at the social media landscape from the marketer’s perspective.
They see Twitter as “less needy” because it is fast, short and not as visual or content heavy, she says. “They are comfortable with the 140 characters, links and the ability to add pics if necessary. Twitter allows them to get messages out succinctly without much fuss.” So it isn’t so much that the microphone has been unplugged; rather, it’s been handed off to someone else.
Source: Forbes Business