UK retailers fail to respond to customers via social networks

The UK’s top 25 retailers are largely unresponsive when it comes to engaging on social media channels, according to a study from internet consultancy and technology company Auros.

Despite retailers making a clear investment in social media, with four in five having a Twitter account and 72% active on Facebook, only 25% of those on Twitter replied to a question directed at them. On Facebook, the responsiveness rate was better, but still 50% of questions went unanswered. The standard response to negative Facebook comments was to ignore the user rather than try and convert them to an advocate.

The results of the study are being released in a report today by Auros, distributors of Awareness, an enterprise-grade social media management platform. The report is available to download from.

As part of the study, each retailer’s responsiveness level was tested across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and branded blogs, with each being allocated a score out of 100. Retailers scored just 10% on average with even the retailers at the top of the table – Thomas Cook (32%), Easyjet (24%) and Debenhams (22%) – failing to score anywhere near top marks.

The research found it was hard for customers to get in touch with retailers through direct messages on Twitter, with none of the retailers following a user back, even after they openly engaged with them.

Only 52% of retailers have a blog on their website and 12% a YouTube channel. As with Twitter and Facebook, many are just using these social networks as push marketing channels, rather than using them to properly engage and enter into dialogue with both existing and prospective customers. Responsiveness on YouTube and on company blogs was extremely low, with none of the retailers responding to questions posted in the comments section of blog posts or videos.

When the brands tested in the study did respond, they did so in a very timely manner, providing a good level of customer service to their fans and followers. On Twitter retailers took just over an hour and a half to respond on average and on Facebook, only an hour, compared to the 10 hours it took to reply to a question via email.

“It is clear that retailers see the benefit of being active on social networks,” said Dominic Mills, managing director, Auros. “But too many are simply ignoring the fact you have to be social and engage with users on these channels. While brands need to monitor what is being said about them, they need to be confident about responding. Companies that use these social channels to get closer to their customers and prospects will increase brand advocacy and generate more bottom line revenue.”