A woman expresses fury whilst looking at her laptop.
Average response time for businesses?  10 hours.  Expectation by customers?  4.

If somebody called your business to ask a question about a product, would you put them on hold for 5 minutes?  An hour?  Ten hours?  That’s what happening when people send you a message via social media, and they’re not happy when they’re ignored.  A study by Sprout Social, tracking 247,000 social profiles and 2.9 billion messages show some disturbing trends for businesses.

It’s becoming a bigger issue. The research shows that more than 34% of potential customers turn first to social media when there’s an issue (compared to 16% that call and 5% that go in person).  So ignore them at your own peril.

Sprout-Index-Charts-Q2-2016-01How bad is it?  The study’s authors said businesses in the 1Q of 2016 in their study received an average of 957 messages that should prompt a response.

Nearly 90% of the messages were ignored.  Those that did get a response saw an average of 10 hours before responding.  Customers expected a response within four hours.


“People aren’t asking for the world, They would simply like to hear back when they reach out to your brand.”


“People are clamoring for greater social engagement — with both their mouths and pocketbooks open — but brands are not moving fast enough” – Sprout Social

Failing to fix this issue could have big consequences.  People that don’t get a response often get vocal about it and can have a significant impact online, especially if one of those unanswered complaints happens to go viral.  Not only that, but you’re running the risk of your customers – who came to you first – going somewhere else.  In the study, roughly 30% of customers said they go to a competitor if they don’t hear from you.


If that doesn’t give you enough of a reason to handle social media inquires better, think about this.

“75 percent of people say they are more likely to post something positive about a brand that makes a meaningful connection with them on social, while 43 percent say they’re more likely to actually make a purchase.” Sprout Social

Read the full study here.