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Consumers Embrace Social Media for Brand Feedback

But still more likely to address complaints to brands more directly

Many social network users are using channels such as Twitter and Facebook to discuss shopping decisions and experiences with their peers. Although often this means they are using social networks as another channel to hunt down the best deals, consumers are also turning to those sites to provide feedback about their experiences with brands.

ROI Research conducted a study that asked social network users why they discuss products and services on social network sites. The majority of respondents said that when discussing products and services, they are comparing prices and talking about sales and specials with their social network friends and followers. Fifty-three percent of the surveyed social network users said they provide feedback to the brand or retailer via social network sites—and 47% said they express disappointment with the brand when they see fit.

The ROI Research study points out that consumers voice complaints about certain verticals more so than others. Survey respondents listed household products, telecommunications and healthcare and pharma as top categories for expressing dissatisfaction on a social network. Sports-related brands, magazines and newspapers, and alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, received low levels of complaints. The travel industry ranked fairly low on the list—which may come as a surprise given the resources that many travel companies have devoted to responding to consumer feedback on Twitter.

A MarketTools survey focusing on customer satisfaction with US airline carriers indicates that although US travelers may be embracing social networks to express feedback more frequently than in the past, social media as a feedback or customer service channel is still nascent.

Many travelers are using social networks to let their friends and followers in on their travel woes. In fact, the MarketTools survey indicates one out of 10 US travelers has used social media to complain about an airline. Because the complaints are undirected though, they often go unanswered. The survey shows that only one out of four consumers who complained via social media got a response back from an airline.

Although travelers are voicing dissatisfaction to their friends via social media, few travelers actually use sites such as Twitter and Facebook to give direct negative feedback to airlines. Only 2% of travelers who had given feedback or complaints about airline service in the past year said they had done so via social media. Most travelers reached out to the airline customer service department through the website, email or phone.

Both studies demonstrate that while collecting and responding to feedback over social networks may be a new phenomenon for brands, there is room for growth. Listening and responding to complaints on social media also offers brands a chance to connect with customers in an additional channel, and to potentially increase customer satisfaction.

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Check out today’s other article, “Asia-Pacific Consumers View Mobile as First Screen.”

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