December 19, 2014

Small Businesses are Responding to Social Media Comments

I’m so pleased to see more and more small businesses embracing social media to market their businesses. Constant Contact’s Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlooks Survey, released today, proves that the change is happening pretty rapidly: in the past six months, social media use among small businesses is up 8%, from 73% this spring.

And what’s really interesting is small businesses are beginning to recognize the value in engaging with customers who post comments to social platforms. About 60% of those surveyed said they respond to these comments, whether they’re negative or positive. So for every tweet, Facebook or Google + update or blog comment mentioning a brand, these companies are interacting with consumers in a way they weren’t just a few years ago.

The 40% who aren’t regularly responding to comments gave the following reasons:

  • They don’t have time
  • They don’t think it’s necessary
  • They don’t know what to say

What about you? Do you respond to social media comments? Take this poll to see when our readers are responding:

Do You Respond to Social Media Comments?

  • No, never (36%, 1,764 Votes)
  • Only when asked a question (30%, 1,442 Votes)
  • Yes, always (15%, 753 Votes)
  • When I feel like it (11%, 546 Votes)
  • When I have time (6%, 288 Votes)
  • Only when comment is positive (1%, 59 Votes)
  • Only when comment is negative (1%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,887

See All Polls

Why Interacting and Responding is Important

If you fell into that 40% of companies not responding, let me educate you on why you should. Consumers are rapidly becoming their own radio stations, and people are always listening. If they’re saying something good about you, you can reap the rewards. If they’re tweeting their frustrations about your company, your silence could cost you more customers. Brands who are stepping up to take blame and apologize are finding consumers more willing to forgive, and the damage doesn’t spread so far.

On the other hand, if people are saying great things about you, that’s all the more reason to interact! A Google + mention of how a customer loves your brand gives you the unique opportunity to build a relationship with that person. Social media users are loyal customers, especially when they’re treated right.

You can also learn a lot from consumers on social platforms. It’s like real-time market research. For free. You can respond to conversations, get opinions about your brand, and ask what customers would want in your products. Rather than building around assumptions, you can start with what the customer actually wants.

So I say: make the time. If you as the owner of your company don’t have time or interest to follow up on social media, hire someone to do it for you. This is becoming a must.

Don’t think it’s necessary? Just search for “USAirways” to see how many people are complaining about the airlines on Twitter. And there’s not a single reply back. This leaves a huge space for consumers to walk away and choose your competitor. And as for not knowing what to say, say what comes naturally. If it’s a negative comment, that should be an apology. If it’s positive, you should share the comment and thank the sender.

tweets

The rules of social media are still being created as we speak. But know that if you’re in the game, you’re in all the way, and that means that interacting with your customers is key.

10 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

10 Reactions

  1. I agree that responding to social media comments is important, but I had a tough time answering the poll. I feel that some comments are so off-base they don’t merit a reply (thus I couldn’t answer “Yes, always” but I do reply to all other comments. Either way, the value is there and I agree that businesses need to make the time.

  2. I totally agree. I advise clients and students (I teach web marketing) to engage through social media, even (and especially!) to negative comments. Responding quickly gives your brand a human face, and an apology starts engagement. That level of customer service often leads to customers accepting a mistake, understanding, and moving forward. No response leaves a void and the impression that the business doesn’t care.

  3. @Robert–
    Let’s assume “all the time” means just responding to the ones that aren’t lame. “Nice post!” doesn’t really warrant a reply!

    @Amber–
    Good point. Even if it’s a bad comment, responding quickly can save face.

  4. Think of it this way: if a customer were to give you a comment in person, you wouldn’t just stare at them. The same goes for comments in social media; you got to respond! Nice article, Susan!

  5. @Ashley–
    Thanks! Good to see you!

  6. Why bother? It will only

    1-validate complainers outrageous claims that may otherwise be perceived as disparaging competitors lies.
    2-encourage complainers to reply with yet more hatred towards business
    3-encourage other people to complain, where in the absence of a response they might not feel it’s worth their time

    Finally, it’s a lot easier to smother and push down complaints with positive reviews (real or bought). Welcome to the real world.

    • How do you smother and push down complaints (real or Bought). It seems to be the wave of the future to use this approach since anyone can voice their opinion whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, legal or illegal without identiity, proof or any repercussions.

  7. Social media comments are like hair strands in the head of a business. It’s the crowning glory of every blog. Now, dealing with negative comments should be done nicely and with respect. This is where conversation begins so response should be very well said. A good dialogue would help increase social business visibility, and at the same time, develop a good relationship online.

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