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Most Businesses Miss the Mark When Responding to Consumers on Social Media, New Study Says Being on top of customer complaints and questions online could give your company a big boost.

By Lindsay Friedman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Ever used social media to reach out to a business? Chances are you were severely disappointed.

You're not the only one, according to a study indicating that 90 percent of social media users try to reach out to brands. Of course, there's an instance a friend shares a screenshot featuring some witty banter with Wendy's or the Yankees online. But moments like that are the exception.

The moral of the story? Ain't nobody on the other end pressin' that reply button, Sprout says.

Related: It's No Longer a Question Whether to Use Social Media for Customer Service

As a firm that tracks the benefits of social media engagement for brands' bottom lines, Sprout's research indicated about nine in 10 social media messages sent to brands go ignored. Breaking it down even further, brands send a total of 23 messages for every one consumer response.

The kicker? Though most folks expect a response within four hours, the average wait time is a whopping 10 hours. By then, about a third of customers have already moved on to a competitor.

Obviously, there's a serious problem causing this divide between consumer expectations and brand response. To find out, Sprout took a closer look by surveying more than 1,000 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users and compared it to thousands of industry social profiles in industries ranging from healthcare, retail, media and nonprofits.

Related: 6 Reasons Social Media Is Your Secret Weapon in Customer Service

The core finding: Businesses recognize the promotional power of social media but fail to see the opportunity to improve consumer retention and loyalty using it as a two-way street, especially since it's used significantly more by customers than phone or email.

Just like that crazy ex, the more consumers are getting ignored, the angier they're getting and are less likely to trust or use company products.

The proof is in the numbers, with more than 73 percent saying they've had a negative experience with brands on social media. As the blood continues to boil, 36 percent are using platforms to shame companies.

Certainly, there's a way to fix this. Luckily, it's not that difficult either. Just respond!

Related: 10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service

Doing so has a dramatic impact on perception of a business. Seventy percent of people are more likely to use a product, 65 percent are more brand loyal, 25 percent are less likely to go somewhere else or post negative things and an impressive 75 percent would share the positive experience online.

There you have it -- the reason why your friend feels the need to share a screenshot of a conversation they had about a Swiffer duster on Instagram.

Lindsay Friedman

Staff writer. Frequently covers franchise news and food trends.

Lindsay Friedman is a staff writer at

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