A guest post by Natalie Meehan of Brandwatch. Natalie has worked in marketing for almost a decade, and forms part of Brandwatch's marketing insights team. She keeps a big, well-stocked tin of sweets on her desk at all times.
This morning I woke up, removed my headphones from my ears after I’d fallen asleep listening to an audiobook and went for a shower. When I’d dried off, I used my phone to listen to the radio and checked my emails, saw a tweet from a friend who was having a moan that her order from an online retailer hadn’t yet arrived and quickly shot back a response.
I then tucked my phone into my rucksack and listened to a podcast (Kermode and Mayo’s film podcast, since you asked) as I cycled into the office.
I’m like 79% of smartphone users in that my phone is with me during pretty much all of my waking day. The only times I am away from it are when I’m in meetings, or when it’s charging. I use it to check bus times, email friends and do a lot of shopping. And crucially, it’s on hand if I want to talk to a brand about something.
According to a YouGov study released this week, only 15% of leading UK firms responded to tweets from customers and of those who actually replied, two-thirds took over an hour.
Pitiful numbers really, considering that the survey found that traditional means of communication - like actually picking up the phone, imagine - were now shunned in favour of firing off a quick tweet. Getting to the point in 140 characters or less is far easier than being placed on hold and listening to Mike Oldfield's Moonlight Shadow on repeat, for sure.
So why aren't companies listening?
Here are three things those 85% of companies should do to ensure that they're not part of such a backward statistic in the future.
Get the right people
It's all very well and good plonking one person in front of a screen and telling them to watch out for any incoming tweets, but what you're going to need if you're going to really effectively manage social in your business is a decent team of Community Managers.
These guys are worth their weight in gold - they're the face of your business and defending the front line.
Great Community Managers can build engagement with your brand with their clever mix of creativity and business nouse. We previously wrote about the 5 best traits of a good CM - you can check it out here.
Don't just let anyone be the face of your company - you don't want to end up with a misjudged post by a newbie landing you in hot water.
Use a top-notch social media management tool
Your Community Managers will know this, but you're going to need to be using a great social media management tool, like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
As we have previously covered in a more in-depth piece, the key to making the most of social media is listening to what your audience has to say about you, analysing the data and, finally, using all these insights to know your customers better and improve your marketing strategy.
You can find our review of the top 10 free tools available here - it's worth playing around with a few and trialling them to see which best suit your needs.
Be online when they're online!
One of the common issues consumers have with brands is that they just aren't around when they need them.
We undertook some research using Brandwatch Analytics this spring for our Travel and Hospitality report and found that a brand's social media activity mirrors that of its customers - while the brands we monitored for the study where most active between 8.00am and 5.00pm, tweets to the brands rose and then peaked late in the evening.
Of course, we can't expect all brands to be online 24/7, but it does pay to think about allocating your resource in different ways. Great customer service and word of mouth recommendations pay dividends.
It's important to remember that in this day and age, social media activity has the ability to make or break a brand. Ensure that it's making yours.