New Data Finds the Best Social Media Strategy Is Customer Service

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Sprout Social Finds 2 in 3 people have more loyalty if a brand responds to them on social media

Today, the stakes for brands on social media have never been higher, as 1 in 3 people say that if a company doesn’t respond to them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, they will switch to a competitor. For years, brands have been using social as a promotional mechanism, currently pumping out 23 messages for every 1 response given to a consumer — and their customers are fed up. New research from Sprout Social displays the ever-widening gap between what customers expect and what brands deliver on social.

The newest Sprout Social Index reveals that a majority of people expect to hear back from a brand within four hours of sending a message; in reality, people wait an average of 10 hours before receiving a response. Even worse, the data found that while consumers send 18 percent more social messages to brands than they did last year, nine in 10 of those messages go unanswered.

Now, consumers are biting back. In fact, 36 percent of people will publicly shame a company that ignores them on social, while a quarter are less likely to use a brand’s product or service.

“For years, Sprout has been talking about the importance of social engagement, and this study underscores its effect on a brand's bottom line,” said Scott Brandt, CMO of Sprout Social. “There is a clear disparity between what people want and what most brands are providing on social. Unless brands start closing that gap and meeting consumer expectations, people will take their loyalty and money elsewhere.”

For its Q2 2016 Index, Sprout surveyed 1,000 individuals with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and collected metrics on the social interactions of 15 key industries, observing the disconnect between brand behavior and customer demands. The data reveals that if brands do meet customer expectations, they could turn the situation around. A few key takeaways include:

         - 90 percent of people have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand.
         - Brands respond to only 11 percent of consumer messages, yet they’re sending 23 promotional messages for every one response given to their audience.
         - Three in four people have had a negative interaction with a brand on social media, but 75 percent say they’re likely to share a positive experience on their personal profile.
         - 14 percent of people are less likely to post negative things about a brand or service if a company responds on social.
         - 42 percent of people are more likely to use a brand’s product or service, and more than a third have more brand loyalty if they get a response.

For more information and to download the full report, visit Sprout Social’s blog.

About the Data
The Sprout Social Index is a report compiled and released by Sprout Social. All referenced data is based on 247,000 public social profiles (93,000 Facebook; 114,000 Twitter; 40,000 Instagram) of continually active accounts between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016. More than 2.9 billion messages sent and received during that time were analyzed for the purposes of this report. Some data may have shifted from the last Sprout Social Index report due to a shift in the social profiles analyzed; however, all overarching trends remain consistent. Industry classifications were based on LinkedIn industry categories. In some cases, closely related industries were merged into a single overarching industry. All messages analyzed that were considered casual mentions or not in need of a response were excluded from engagement, response rate and response time calculations with the intention of eliminating noise. Analysis of which messages required attention was done using Sprout’s proprietary technologies. Response time and response rate calculations were done using Sprout’s Engagement Reporting technology found in the Sprout Social product.

This consumer survey was conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco. Survata interviewed 1,062 online respondents between April 08, 2016, and April 11, 2016. For further information, visit

Sprout Social offers social media engagement, advocacy and analytics solutions for leading agencies and brands, including Hyatt, Microsoft, Uber, Zendesk and Zipcar. Available via web browser, iOS and Android apps, Sprout’s engagement platform enables brands to more effectively communicate on social channels, collaborate across teams and provide an exceptional customer experience. Bambu by Sprout Social, a platform for advocacy, empowers employees to share curated content across their social networks to further amplify a brand’s reach and engagement. Headquartered in Chicago, Sprout is a Twitter Official Partner, Facebook Marketing Partner, Instagram Partner Program Member, LinkedIn Company Page Partner and Google+ Pages API Partner. Learn more at and

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Jennifer Mulligan

Kristin Johnson