About the Author

Jay Baer is a social and content strategist, keynote speaker, and author. He's consulted with more than 700 companies since 1994, including 29 of the FORTUNE 500. He's the co-author of the social business book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social

Loyalty and the Real Case for Social Media Success

Loyalty and the Real Case for Social Media Success

Every time I look through the results of The Social Habit, I find some new, fascinating tidbit that makes me think (or rethink) assumptions about social, consumers, and media consumption.

I’m champing at the bit to get even more of these findings out there (and you can be first to know by becoming a Social Habit subscriber. Packages start at just $347, and you get exclusive access to our subscribers-only grand unveiling Webinar on October 11, which you do not want to miss). But I’ll keep giving you some good stuff bit by bit, including this one: 53% of Americans 12+ who follow brands in social media are more loyal to those brands.

Loyalty To Brands On Social Tapers With Age - Edison Research

Measuring social media continues to be a challenge. Even though divining social media ROI is 100% possible, it does require some effort to calculate. The truth is that many companies don’t have the resources, inclination, or expertise to calculate true ROI. Nor do they calculate the precise ROI of newspaper ads, golf balls with their logo on them, or trade show attendance.

So the day-to-day reality is that many companies believe in their bones that social media works, but aren’t sure precisely how, or where, or in what fashion. Simultaneously, many marketers are under the impression that social media (Facebook, in particular) is a top of the funnel tactic. A survey of corporate marketers by Wildfire (now owned by Google) this year found that 44% of respondents viewed Facebook as a good place to acquire new customers.

I believe the opposite to be true, that social media (and Facebook, in particular) is mostly a retention and churn reduction tactic, the thing your company uses to keep customers coming back for more and telling their friends (not unlike email, incidentally).

This new finding from The Social Habit ratifies the potential effectiveness of this “focus on your existing customers” approach and gives companies a path to understanding the actual financial impact of social.

But as with all things in social media, your results may vary.

It’s fascinating to me that our findings show that increased loyalty to companies followed in social tapers with age, once adulthood is reached. 66% of 18-24 year-old Americans who have followed a company in social are more loyal to those companies. It’s 60% among 25-34 year olds; 53% among 35-44 year olds; 45% among 45-54 year olds; and just 39% among the 55 and older set.

As we age, does the siren song of social interaction begin to fall on deaf ears? Is resistance to the charms of companies in social part of the aging process? Or as we age are we just exposed to so many more companies that our decisions about loyalty are made on a more practical, prosaic level than anything ephemerally nifty that’s served up in social?

I’m not certain. But, this data does make a case that brands targeting a younger customer may see a greater revenue/profit impact from social over time, given the much higher loyalty effect in play.

Beer Pong + Social Media = Awesome.
Metamucil + Social Media = Maybe Less So.

Are Consumer Expectations for Social Customer Service Realistic?

Are Consumer Expectations for Social Customer Service Realistic?

The provision of customer service via social media channels has become nearly axiomatic, especially in B2C industries with high volumes of contact. It’s become one of the Big Three customer service channels, joining phone and email to form the triad of support modalities. Certainly, you could use postal mail, fax, or live chat for customer service, but those are just drops in the bucket compared to the Big Three.

Historically, customer expectations for phone support are far different than those for email support. We don’t have data on phone support in this version of The Social Habit, but I think we can stipulate that when you use the phone, you expect a synchronous response – even if hold times can become excruciatingly long when “call volumes are abnormally heavy”. Email is different. You send a support email (or fill out a contact form, which is the same mechanism), you expect a response in a few hours, or a day or so.

But what about social media? Are our expectations for response more urgent and similar to phone, or less urgent and similar to email? In this edition of The Social Habit, we asked a sample of American social media users 12+, and our findings paint a difficult and resource-intensive picture for businesses.

 

Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes.

Also, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Is your company prepared to handle social media inquiries within the hour? A few are. Most are not, in my experience, which potentially creates a disillusionment gap between customers’ anticipated response time, and your actual ability to provide a response.

Certainly, consumers understand that social media staffing patterns change at night, and on weekends, right? They don’t expect round-the-clock support, do they?

Actually, they do in many cases.

Our research found that among those respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.

Whoa.

When you hear talk about the need to “scale social media” this is one of the reasons why it’s an important conversation. Are customer expectations realistic? And can you possibly meet those expectations with a centralized approach to social customer service?

Note that this isn’t some “we asked 42 people” survey. The respondent base – just the people who HAVE reached out to a company for support via social – is 690 persons from a representative sample of over 3,000 American social media users. Real data = real answers for your business.

We have many more eye-popping findings in The Social Habit research. I’ve seen the raw data, and it’s a mind-blower. There’s still time to subscribe to this edition (which also gets you exclusive access to our grand unveiling Webinar on October 11), so if you haven’t parted with your dollars yet, please do so. It’ll be worth every penny, and then some.

 


How Fine Is The Line Between Service and Stalker?

How Fine Is The Line Between Service and Stalker?

Anecdotally, we know that an increasing number companies are providing customer service via social media. Clearly, however, many businesses have missed the “social is the new telephone” memo, as a report from Maritz last fall indicated that 70% of customer complaints on Twitter go unanswered.

But is that still true? And even if customer complaints are answered on Twitter (and elsewhere in social), are they handled satisfactorily?

We’re going to find out in the next edition of The Social Habit, our comprehensive quarterly examination of social media in the U.S., run by Edison Research with cheerleading and analysis from me, Jason Falls, and Mark Schaefer.

Is Social Service Better?

We take it as a sort of pseudo-gospel that social media customer service provision is inherently superior to old-fashioned email and telephone (even letter writing, if you’re a Mennonite with a buggy problem).

Why do we believe that? Is it because social media customer service is faster? But is it faster? Or maybe, is it too fast?

In The Social Habit, we’ll be asking 3,000 randomly selected and carefully sampled consumers a ton of questions, including these three:

Customer Service Channel Preference

In general, how would you prefer for a brand, product or company to respond to your customer service or
support request. Please rank the following in order of preference:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

This will be very interesting, to see side-by-side consumer preferences for support mechanism. Should be some interesting cr0ss-tabs by age and social network usage. Maybe even by gender? Is it possible that men prefer Twitter customer service because they don’t have to actually talk to anyone? Hmmm. Let’s find out!

Incidence of Social Support Requests

Have you ever attempted to contact a brand, product or company through social media for customer service/support?

  • Yes
  • No

I tend to believe that all of us social media professionals are drinking the “social is the new telephone” Kool-Aid, that a relatively small percentage of consumers actually seek support via social.

Time Horizon Porridge

In general, how soon after you contact a brand, product or company on social media do you expect to receive a
response?

  • Within 5 minutes
  • Between 6 and 15 minutes
  • Between 16 and 30 minutes
  • Between 31 minutes and 1 hour
  • More than 1 hour, but later that same day
  • Within a few days or so

This is where the stalker provision comes into play, as well as the differences between mentioning a brand and expressly requesting help. If I tweet “I sure do like Don Julio tequila” and they respond on Twitter in five seconds, am I delighted, or creeped out like I am when staring at Joan Rivers’ unchanged-regardless-of-emotion face mask? Alternatively, if I tweet “there’s a fly in my Don Julio, how do I get a replacement bottle?” I am clearly asking for help, and does my expectation of the reply time horizon change?

Some companies are spending considerable staff time and software expense providing social media customer service, but does it match up with what consumers actually WANT?

I can’t wait to find out.

To be the first to know, purchase one of  The Social Habit packages.

Everyone’s Afraid of the Social Media Inquisition

If you’ve been following our progress here at The Social Habit, you may remember that we were scheduled to announce the winners of our questions contest – awarding shiny new research (for free) to lucky participants whose inquiries we’ve decided to include in the next edition of our findings.

Well, we got all caught up in the Opening Ceremonies, and Michael Phelps losing, and those archery guys going all Robin Hood, and the majesty of field hockey. So, yeah, we’re not quite ready.

Plus, there are a LOT of contenders. Nearly 75 question submissions (thanks to all) that roughly broke down into three categories:

  • Impact of social on desired customer behavior
  • The value of social channel A vs. social channel B, and channel proliferation overall
  • Best practices for channels (timing, sequencing, content type)

The Social Habit is best suited for the first two categories, since we’re a scientific survey methodology, rather than a repository/examiner of actual user data. We’ll be finalizing our selections in the next day or two, and will announce winners then.

Also, we’ll be announcing final pricing for the next edition of the complete research report, which will be the gold medal standard of social media research.

USA! USA! USA!

Thanks for your support.

Twitter Users are 33 Percent More Likely to be Democrats

The most recent Social Habit research (and the final totally free report in the series) uncovered a wide variety of statistical treasures, but for me these social media statistics in particular stood out.

Social Media Statistics Twitter Users Lean Towards teh Democratic Party

Click on chart to access entire Social Habit report

Twitter users are 33% more likely to be Democrats

An interesting finding, and representative of the type of custom queries we can answer for you in the next round of the Social Habit, this edition found that 40% of Twitter users are Democrats, compared to 30% of the U.S. population overall.The percentage of Republications and Independents on Twitter mirrors the U.S. average almost precisely.

The “Check-in” is the phenomenon that never happened

74% of Americans are unfamiliar with the concept of checking in to a location via mobile device, and only 3% have ever checked in. Even more damning, is that 4% had checked in when surveyed in 2011. This is a 25% decrease in check in behaviors in a single year. It’s not going to rebound, which is why Foursquare’s play is to be the new Yelp. Have you seen the new Foursquare interface, which emphasizes reviews over check-in?

Only 33% of Americans have ever followed a brand in social media

From 2010 to 2012 the percentage of Americans following any brand on a social network has gone from 16% to 33%. This is a sharp increase, but looked at from the opposite perspective, it’s shocking to me that 2/3 of Americans using social networks have never followed a brand.Companies still have substantial room for growth in connecting with customers and fans on social networks.

Social Media Statistics 45 to 54 year old users

Click chart to download entire report

55% of Americans 45-54 have a profile on a social networking site

It’s not just for kids any more. The biggest growth of any age cohort from 2011 to 2012 was 45-54 year olds, who now exhibit participation matching the U.S. average. The only group that is below average are 55+ Americans, and even 3 out of 10 of them are in the social networking game.

22% of Americans use social networking sites several times per day

It really is a “Social Habit”. In the past year, 12 million more Americans are using social networking many times daily.How many other things do we do several times per day? It’s not a long list.

Facebook via mobile continues to be a major factor

54% of Facebook members have used the social network via a phone, and 33% use a phone as their primary way to access Facebook. This despite the fact that the Facebook mobile experience and mobile apps are mediocre, at best. Here’s hoping the Instagram guys can jump start it. If so, watch for these numbers to soar.

76% of Twitter users now post status updates

This is one of the biggest behavioral changes of the past two years. In 2010, the Social Habit research found that just 47% of Twitter users actually sent tweets, with more than half the user base in listen-only mode. The overwhelming majority of new Twitter users are active tweeters, driving the overall average to 76%.

 

In the next edition of The Social Habit, we’ll be looking at YouTube, social video, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. Plus, if you’ve got questions you’d like to ask thousands of Americans via the best social media research methodology available, let’s talk. We can find custom insights just for your company or category.