In the social realm, where every consumer has a voice and an audience that’s willing to listen, many brands have learned they need to step up their customer service and communications across all customer channels, lest they risk a social media firestorm.
Some brands, however, are still struggling to catch up.
A recent study published by eMarketer
found consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that answer them on Twitter, proving brands cannot afford to ignore social media as a consumer channel. Knowing this, the team at Alterian conducted an analysis of the social media customer engagement of top brands across six industries: travel, banking, cable, mobile, gaming, and consumer electronics.
Using the social media monitoring tool SM2
, Alterian’s Jim Reynolds
analyzed both the volume of conversations and net sentiment of two top competitors in each industry, pitting them head to head. He examined more than 348,000 conversations about the 12 brands over a period of six months. Volume considered the number of consumer-driven posts about each brand; net sentiment looked at the overall favorability and positive versus negative posts about each brand.
In addition to the SM2 research, we also did a little informal study of our own and put together a crack team of Twitter users to reach out to each brand directly. The nine Alterian employees were given a specific set of questions and schedule to contact each brand’s support on Twitter over a period of three days. We then tracked how often the brand responded and the time it took to answer each question.
In every instance, the brand with the fastest average response time was also the brand with higher favorability ratings across social media conversations during the period studied.
Do these brands simply have better customer service reflexes, or have they invested in a comprehensive internal social media program, which allows them to better engage with their consumers? Perhaps it’s both. Either way, the data indicate brands that stay on top of their social media presence have the best relationship with their customers.
So how did the brands stack up overall?
• Travel – American Airlines outperformed Delta
• Banking – Citi bested Bank of America
• Cable – Time Warner beat Comcast
• Mobile – AT&T edged out Verizon
• Gaming – Microsoft (Xbox) outranked Sony (Playstation)
• Consumer Electronics – Dell surpassed HP
Overall Customer Engagement Rankings:
Each brand could score a possible 45 points, based on volume of conversations, consumer sentiment, time to respond via Twitter, and frequency of response on Twitter.
Microsoft claimed the top spot across all the brands included in the study, with a near-perfect score. @xboxsupport answered 100 percent of questions asked via Twitter with an average response time of four minutes. Coincidentally, 82.5 percent of social media conversations about Microsoft Xbox were positive in nature. In comparison, Sony (@askplaystation) answered only 11 percent of questions asked via Twitter and accounted for just one of every 20 conversations about the two gaming systems.
An unexpected outcome were the few brands who caught on before the study was over. These companies were so socially switched on they made the connection that a handful of questions came from a group of Alterian employees. Dell and Time Warner both sensed a pattern and reached out directly to see if there was an issue they could help with.
For a comprehensive look at the data and methodology, view the press release announcing the results
or download the full presentation and recorded webinar
Michelle Taylor is a public relations specialist at Alterian. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleRTaylor.