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Cool Hand Social Media Strategies for the Holidays

To dust off an old classic: What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. In this case it’s discord between what shoppers want and what retailers are delivering.

According to Sprout Social‘s Social Index Report, 83% of brands are ignoring their customers’ questions on social media—even making them wait upwards of 11 hours for a response. But that slower response doesn’t lower the expectations of shoppers; the report says that 42% of customers who reach out through social expect a response within an hour.

Granted, it’s tough to answer all queries when there’s a 21% increase in social messages—a trend that could hamper retailers with an unprecedented 1,500 messages this holiday season—but a 16.35% response rate is inexcusable with regards to the impact on customer experience.

As if slow responses or ignoring isn’t bad enough, retailers are focused on flooding their social channels with messages, though, obviously, most people don’t want to be bombarded with strictly promotional posts. However, research shows that consumers are seven times more likely to respond to a promotion after the brand interacts with them in a meaningful way.

Not over once it‘s over
After all the presents are opened and the egg nog is gone, the messages will still come in droves. The report shows that even outside of the holidays the retail industry is seeing, on average, 19% more messages than it did a year ago.

It goes both ways, though, in that the amount of messages retailers are sending continues to surge as well—since Q1 2015, the number of messages sent by retailers is up 45%.

All social networks are created equally…more or less
Twitter and Facebook are each pivotal in brands’ social communication strategy. Both have useful attributes and functions that can behoove marketers. And the report says retailers should cease trying to play favorites and just go where the voice of the consumer is.

The bottom line is “[y]ou should be able to improve your response rates and times if you understand where people are reaching out to your brand in the greatest numbers,” analysts in the report say.

This quarter, retail is seeing 7% more inbound messages on Facebook than on Twitter. However, retailers are sending out more messages on Twitter—144% more than they did six months ago. They’re also sending out more messages, though not at the same accelerated pace—only twice as many as they did within the same six-month period.

The report concludes that it’s wise to allocate customer service resources where customers are the most vocal, but don’t let one platform take away attention from another. In addition, it says that similar to how retailers hire additional staff in brick-and-mortar stores, they should also consider bringing on board or training more social customer service reps to combat the influx of messages.

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