Are Big Companies Engaging On Social Media The Way They Should Be?

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By Nicole Finkbeiner After reading about the effectiveness of timely and personal responses to social media interactions from thought leaders such as Likeable Media, I assumed that all of the large U.S. based companies, being some of the best marketers in the world, were following similar social media practices. But after several interactions with major companies that either went wrong or were ignored, I started to wonder: Are these “guidelines” of social media really being followed?

So I devised an “experiment” to test. I chose a series of national/large regional consumer products and services that I use on a regular basis and decided to randomly send them questions, praise, or negative comments to see how they would respond on Twitter and Facebook.

Products

[table] Number of Companies,Type of Comment 2 Facebook; 2 Twitter,Positive 2 Facebook; 2 Twitter,Negative 2 Facebook; 2 Twitter,Questions [/table]

Total number of product companies contacted: 12

Services

[table] Number of Companies,Type of Comment 2 Facebook; 2 Twitter,Positive 2 Facebook; 2 Twitter,Negative 2 Facebook; 2 Twitter,Questions [/table]

Total number of product and service companies contacted: 24

I posted over a month and a half, varying my posting times and dates. Since they were able to view all of my other tweets, I was careful to not post these types of posts to Twitter too often.

All Twitter posts were from my Twitter account. All Facebook posts were posted from my private Facebook account(my image and naming on Facebook is blocked in all examples to protect my privacy).

Responses

The responses tended to fall into three categories: No response (9 companies, 37.5%), generic/impersonal response (5 companies, about 20.8%), or personal response (10 companies, 41.6%)

No response

Ready for the shame list? Ok, here you go. Here is the list of companies that didn’t respond at all:

Twitter

50% of companies contacted or mentioned on Twitter did not respond. It’s interesting to note that 3 out of 4 of negative comments on Twitter went unanswered.

Apple: Apple doesn’t have an account, so I referenced Tim Cook’s account. Negative comment

Levis Jeans: Positive comment

Pentel: Negative comment

Coca-Cola: Product question

Amazon: Negative comment

Nissan: Question. They responded once, but when I asked a follow-up question, they did not.

Facebook

25% of companies did not respond on Facebook.

Yelp: You can’t post to their wall, so I commented on a relevant story. Negative comment

Urban Decay: Positive comment

24 Hour Fitness: Question

Generic/Impersonal Responses

Some of the companies I contacted seemed to be trying to keep their responses as generic as possible. Some simply “liked” or “favorite” my comment. Some seemed to use macro answers to respond.  

Chevy Comment and Response 043014 edited

Philips

Personal Response Some companies, however, responded with very personalized responses. Some I could argue aren’t good responses, but they are personal.

Samsonite response 042814 edited

Timing

Again, 37.5% of companies contacted never responded. This time analysis is for those that did respond.

86.6% of companies that responded did so within 24 hours. The average time to respond was 6 hours. Two companies responded very fast: Redbox and Chipotle responded within 8 minutes. On the other end of the spectrum, Tupperware took 3 days and Shazam took almost 6 days to respond.

Companies were much faster to respond, on average on Facebook (7.4 hours) vs. Twitter (33.6 hours). Responses on Twitter varied widely, however, with some of the fastest, and slowest responses being from Twitter.

Conclusion

Based on my personal experiences and this experiment, the so-called “guidelines” aren’t being followed by a large number of national and large regional products and services.

But does that mean the rest of us shouldn’t? I don’t think so. Just because they are doing a poor job doesn’t mean that we have an excuse to do so as well. Most of us are much smaller than major companies and thus can be more agile; we also have more to gain and lose based on a single customer’s interaction with us. This gives us as an advantage and places a larger emphasis on getting our social media strategy right.

About the Author

Nicole Finkbeiner is an effective strategic marketing and communications professional with experience in marketing, social media, advertising, public relations, branding, media relations, online reputation management, crisis communications, online advertising, outdoor advertising planning, sales, radio advertising, and internal communications. Connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn. Subscribe to her blog here.