Finding the Right Balance When Engaging with Followers on Social Media

Last Friday, we talked about the recently published study by Simply Measured on the Twitter accounts of 98 of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands. In that study, they found that within a three-month span, around 92% of the tops brands tweeted at least once per day, yet 54% of the brands sent less than one @reply per day.

As we mentioned, engaging with followers on social media is an essential part of using these platforms for your business. But of course, how you go about engaging them is equally as important, too.

Case in point? A few weeks back, a story surfaced on Buzzfeed about the most unlikely of friendships between a man and his local Applebee’s Facebook page.

Chip Zdarsky, a Toronto-based journalist and comic book artist, noticed the lack of response by followers to the status updates of his local Applebee’s page. He decided to take matters into his own hands, and began what would end up being a months-long relationship with the chain.

The local chain was more than willing to respond to Zdarsky’s comments, which varied from questions about the food to what movie he should watch that night.

What’s the takeaway?

This, of course, ended up providing the Internet with some good laughs and in Zdarsky’s opinion, was a very lighthearted attempt at revealing the human behind the computer and not an attempt at trolling the page at the company’s expense.

Still, it does bring up a good point as to how far companies should go in terms of engaging with their followers. Here are some ways to handle it:

  • Assess the situation. Before you respond, it’s always good to try and put the situation into perspective. Things can escalate pretty quickly on the Internet, so figure out what you want to say before you go ahead and say it.
  • Not every question demands an answer. While we always think you should try your best to answer every inquiry that comes your way, sometimes it’s easy to tell whether or not the person is really serious. If you can tell that someone is just looking to cause trouble, you don’t have to respond.
  • Politely and quietly end the conversation. Although it’s better to try your best to avoid these situations altogether, if and when you find yourself in a situation that has the potential to go south, simply try to end the conversation. It’s better to try and move on rather than add more fuel to the flame.
  • Keep your cool. Above all, make sure to keep your cool. It’s never a good idea to pick a fight on social media, especially when it comes to trolls. What you don’t want is to give them an excuse to fire back.

We’re all for engaging with followers on social media, but sometimes it’s not worth it. Keeping these tips in mind can help you prevent any social media meltdowns from occurring, and saving you the grief of picking up the pieces. While stories like Zdarsky’s and Applebee’s are funny, other people you interact with on social media may not be as kind.

Are You Engaging with Twitter Followers More or Less than Top Brands?

In the past, we’ve talked about why engaging your followers is an essential part of using Twitter for your business. Yet, as we noted, there is an abundance of businesses on social media who rarely try to communicate with their customers. 

But we’re not just talking about small businesses that simply make Twitter handles and never use them—we’re talking about some of the top brands who frequently update their Twitter multiple times throughout the day.

Recently, Simply Measured, a social media analytics provider, did a study during the final three months of 2013 on the Twitter accounts of 98 of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands.

Here is what they found:

  • About 92% of the top brands tweeted at least one per day.
  • The average company tweeted at least 12 times per day
  • However, around 54% of these brands sent less than one @reply per day
  • Simply Measured noted that “while top brands are dedicating resources to brand promotion, many aren’t engaging with users in a one-on-one capacity.”

One limitation of report, as noted by Simply Measured, is that some brands may engage customers with direct messages to their inquiries, which Simply Measured does not track.

Still, one-on-one engagement in a public setting (i.e. Twitterverse) is an important way of showing all of your followers that you are listening. One company who understands the kind of impact this can make is Pizza Hut, which Simply Measured said was “one of the most engaged brands on the list,” averaging about 33,659 @replies during the three-month span –accounting for nearly half of total @replies (68,000) of all Interbrand companies on the list.

Other companies paled in comparison, with top brands like eBay only averaging 5 @replies during the three-month span, Amazon with 4 @replies, and Disney at a measly 1 @reply.

While looking at these numbers may put you at ease for the time being, it should also be a great incentive to push you towards engaging your followers more often. Sure, top brands like eBay and Amazon might be able get away with not replying because of their strong presence, but smaller companies can’t really afford to let customer inquiries slide by. Make sure you make a conscious effort to engage your customers and show them that you care.

What do you think about this study? Do you think you engage your Twitter followers more or less than these top brands? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!