When Should You Respond on Social Media?

Posted by Jen Ochej on June 7, 2013

Here at Broadview, we work with a number of different clients on a wide range of social media campaigns, from community engagement to advertising and promotions, and everything in between. One question we hear a lot is, “Someone just said __________—should we respond to that?”

It’s a valid question. It’s hard to know if that person is expecting a response from us. If we’re receiving a lot of comments and replies, are we expected to respond to all of them? Is it rude of us to only respond to some, and not others?

The answer is an un-straightforward Yes, and also No.

Like most things in life, it’s impossible to have a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to social media conversations and replies. What makes sense one day might not the next. What works for one campaign might be ineffective for another, and what’s best for one company might be totally different from yours.

There are, however, some basic guidelines you can follow:

If they asked a question, you should respond (if at all possible).

If someone is coming to your Facebook page or Twitter account with a question, it’s in your best interest to give that person the best response possible as soon as you can. Picture it this way: if someone walked up to the counter at your store with a question, would it be okay to ignore them and carry on with your day? The same principle applies online.

If they paid you a specific compliment, you should thank them (at the very least).

A simple, “Thanks! Glad you liked ____!” takes only a few seconds to write, but can make all the difference in further securing a customer who’s already happy with you. If you’ve got the time and something specific to say, you could even carry the conversation a bit further (though it’s not necessary). Again, picture a customer coming into your business and taking the time to tell you about something you’re doing well—at the very least, you’ll say, “Thanks!” and if you’re not busy and the comment struck you a certain way, you may even enter into a longer conversation. Same thing on social media!

If they’ve got a complaint, you should respond as soon, and as helpfully, as possible.

Unhappy customers are never a good thing, but they’re even worse when they’re posting their unhappiness on the internet for the world to see. Your best bet here is to respond as soon as possible in a polite and friendly tone, and do everything you can to resolve the situation. You won’t be able to make everyone happy all the time, but every customer who comes into your store with an issue gets your attention and your best effort at fixing it, and every customer who brings a problem to your attention online should, too.

It should be noted that these “in public” complaints (and the rest of your conversations!) give you a great opportunity not only to satisfy and retain a vocal customer, but to show off your amazing customer service to the rest of your followers, too. As we’ve noted in earlier blog posts, social media for businesses isn’t just about the person you’re currently in a conversation with, but is about the silent bystanders, as well! It’s better marketing than you might imagine.

If you’ve got time and something to say, you should respond to posts that weren’t even directed at you!

Wait, what? Why should you, as a restaurant/shop/other business account, initiate conversations that aren’t even about your business? Think about it: how much fun is a one-way conversation? Especially if you’re a small and/or local business, people follow you on Twitter not only for information about your shop, but also because you’re a part of their community.

No one expects to have a random chitchat with the Twitter account for Big Box Store X, but they would love to hear from Joe at Joe’s Diner on Main Street. You’ll be surprised at how quickly people will start thinking of you as a friend and neighbour, and how much more likely that will make them to pay attention when you have something to announce online. A lot can be gained from just acting like a real person and carrying on normal, day-to-day conversations with people!

So, basically, you’re just supposed to respond to everyone. Is that it?

You got it! Social media is a two-way street, and for better or worse, people expect to get an answer when they direct a post at a business. You don’t necessarily have to respond to every single post, but you should aim to answer as many as possible—an unanswered post once or twice translates into you being busy, but a majority of unanswered posts translates into you ignoring your customers.

It can be overwhelming, whether you’re a small business trying to find time for social media around your day-to-day operations, or a bigger business trying to deal with a huge stream of social media posts on a daily basis. That’s why we, at Broadview, work with businesses of all sizes to plan and maintain their social media efforts from the long-term plan to the daily posts. Interested in finding out how Broadview can help you excel in this area? Drop us a line; we’d love to talk!