Any brand that has an active social media presence, a large customer/fan base or both, deals with the challenge of responding to incoming tweets. Some brands respond to seemingly every tweet, no matter how trivial or often (hello Chipotle) and some never respond or acknowledge at all (hello most big brands).
A few weeks ago I had a question about which of two products to buy. I tweeted at the brand to ask, and got no response. I tried again. Still no response. I ended up buying neither product.
I’ve had a brand favorite my question before, without answering. I’ve also mentioned brands in tweets and had them not respond at all. This morning I took to Twitter and asked what’s worse: a favorite, or no response at all.
— DirtyWaterTees (@DirtyWaterTees) July 31, 2014
— Jonathan Levitt (@JWLevitt) July 31, 2014
— Michelle Densmore (@Lucky13Fit) July 31, 2014
I asked Christy Berkery, social media manager for an NFL team. She gave an answer I was somewhat surprised by at first, yet it makes total sense. https://twitter.com/berkeryc/status/494834353570971648 She also brought up the issue of time. It isn’t realistic for a big brand to respond to every single tweet, especially when questions aren’t being asked.
@JWLevitt Absolutely. Recognition is key. Also look at the time trade off – favoriting is faster than responding – can reach more fans
— berkeryc (@berkeryc) July 31, 2014
Christy did agree that organizations that sell product should make it a priority to respond to incoming questions. Coming from a product based brand like ENERGYbits, it often means the decision to purchase vs. not purchase. At our current size, every single individual order has an immediate impact, so this is very important for us, as compared to a billion dollar brand that won’t lose sleep over a dozen people not purchasing.
As the morning rolled on, responses from both individuals and brands kept coming in. Qdoba finally responded:
@JWLevitt Hmm… sorry to hear we've missed your tweets. We are here listening, let us know what's up!
— Qdoba Mexican Grill (@QdobaMexGrill) July 31, 2014
I figured I’d ask another big brand. I reached out to Jon Preston, of Staples who agreed that some is better than none.
@JWLevitt as a brand, "it depends". The content, tweet by tweet dictates engagement strategy. Speaking personally, some is better than none.
— Jon Preston (@JonMPreston) July 31, 2014
Jenn Herman agreed that it does depend on the post, but in general no response is worse.
@JWLevitt Depends on the post. But in general no response is worse. Even a "fave" from a brand can inspire a customer
— Jenn Herman (@jenns_trends) July 31, 2014
I still think simply favoriting a tweet is a lazy way to “engage” with a follower, but it comes down to a matter of how valuable the time is. For a huge brand it may make sense, especially when the person tweeting isn’t expecting a response.
To test out a tweet that didn’t have a question or technically require a response, I tweeted a photo and tagged 10 of the products I will be using while on the bike in the Pan Mass Challenge. It’s been 25 minutes and so far two have favorited the tweet. No actual responses yet besides from individuals.
What can be learned from this? Brands that aren’t getting hundreds of incoming tweets per hour can and SHOULD be responding to most tweets with more than just a favorite. It makes a difference in the eyes of the consumer, and can inspire future engagement and ultimately more sales.
@JWLevitt I'd like brands to tweet me back. Twitter is about conversation. So converse with me!!
— Stephanie (@stephanieruns) July 31, 2014