The stealth social media test that found Australian retailers respond to customer enquiries better on Facebook than Twitter

Australian retailers are far better at responding to customer enquiries on Facebook than they are on Twitter, a new report from an online reputation management company has revealed.

The new report, compiled by consultancy group SR7, urges retailers to respond to queries on social media as quickly as possible and provide as much information as they can or risk losing engagement despite having a high number of fans or followers.

The report also comes just days after a separate report from a digital media consultancy found that while some businesses may have large numbers of fans or followers, they aren’t necessarily engaging in the most conversations online.

“Businesses that have put the resources into social media and are prepared to understand that it is more than just a broadcast tool are getting a good return,” SR7 partner and co-founder James Griffin told SmartCompany this morning.

The new ‘Social Media in Australian Retail’ report compiled by SR7 profiled 100 ASX-listed retailers, ranging from stores in shopping centres to giant department stores including Myer.

The company then created social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, posing as customers. Each company was asked two questions, one for each network.

The Facebook question asked: “Hi, have you got any sales on at the moment? And are any of your Sydney stores open this Australia Day?” The Twitter question asked: “Is your summer sale still on? If so, when does it end?”

The company then measured the results. On Facebook, it queried 87 companies and received a response rate of 68%, while on Twitter, only 19 out of 76 companies responded, indicating businesses are more likely to respond on Facebook.

And while Twitter may be known for the speed of its conversations, it was Facebook that recorded the quickest responses. 41% of responses took under one hour, while 34% responded within one to three hours.

Only 8% took between 6-12 hours to respond.

However, on Twitter, only 32% of responses came within an hour, and 10% came within 1-3 hours. 21% even took between 12-24 hours, and 16% took more than a day to respond.

“When comparing the response rate and the speed at which responses were posted, it is clear that companies are more effectively using Facebook for customer service,” the report found.

Griffin says too many businesses focus on getting as many fans as possible – this is not the point, he argues. Instead, making sure they are engaging and answering questions fully is the best possible way to ensure a healthy social media presence.

“What was interesting to us was that some companies that had an extremely high level of followers didn’t respond within even 24 hours,” he said.

Some retailers responded better than others. Facebook responses from 21 retailers contained links to websites or specific stores that provided more details, but there were 10 responses SR7 deemed as “lower quality”.

For instance, Pumpkin Patch responded to one enquiry by simply saying “yes, we are open tomorrow” on Facebook. Griffin says this is a poor result as it doesn’t offer the customer anything more.

Instead, he points to Rebel Sport, which replied on Twitter giving information on a sale, when it ended, and asked the customer whether they were looking for anything in particular.

“We wanted to look at how much conversation they’re having. Are they leveraging the platform to the best of their ability?”

“Rebel Sport did a great job, as did Myer on Facebook. They understand that retail is changing and people aren’t going into stores as much as they used to.”

“The businesses that can understand that do very well.”



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