Recent research from analyst house Gartner has forecast that not responding to social media will become as fatal to a brand image as not replying to phone calls and emails are today.
Gartner focused on a three point strategy for organisations looking to fully utilise their social media response:
• Participate and don’t let a negative remark put you off
• Don’t have a blanket reply; develop appropriate responses dependent on the comment
• Plan for a spike in social commentary and develop communications practices to cope with it
Perhaps worryingly, Gartner found that while over half of companies monitor their social media usage and response, just under a quarter (23%) collect and analyse the data.
This includes keeping records of individual conversations, as well as maintaining profiles on people companies have interacted with.
These records should be reviewed “constantly, to analyse the interactions to see what insights can be gleaned from them”, as Gartner vice president Carol Rozwell puts it.
Yet Gartner is keen to stress that it’s “impracticable and counterproductive” to reply to everything, with “clearly inflammatory and unsolvable” comments not requiring response.
Case study: Barclays UK
Let’s look at the recent Barclays Libor scandal as an example of how this analysis can be put into place. Barclays UK’s social media outlets were put into overdrive with many angry customers venting their frustration, from informing the bank they were changing service to generally hurling abuse. Their Facebook feed posed a series of challenges to good social media practice – what do you do with a tirade of negativity? Subsequently Barclays didn’t quite adhere to Gartner’s analysis. While they definitely didn’t reply to everything, particularly non-constructive abusive comments, the vast majority of their replies featured the sentence “We are unable to discuss matters related to these ongoing issues on our Facebook page”.
However this is certainly an extreme case.