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Social Media Response Rates, Times Dip as User Engagement Explodes

User engagement is growing nine times faster than Facebook and Twitter combined

Social media has become a critical channel for brands looking to connect with consumers, but it looks like many followers aren’t getting the attention they expect, according to data released in December 2013 by Sprout Social.

Between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013, Twitter grew its Monthly Active User (MAU) base from 151 million to 218 million—a 44% year-over-year increase. Facebook saw a 17% rise in MAUs, from 955 million to 1.15 billion. Collectively, the two sites grew 20% to hit 1.42 billion MAUs.

However, user engagement, such as messages that required a response or attention, was growing nine times as fast as Twitter and Facebook combined. How are brands keeping up? Results indicated they were not: Average brand response rates for both Twitter and Facebook dipped below 20% year over year, and response times increased from 10.9 hours to 11.3 hours. On Facebook, response times came in at 15 hours, on average, while Twitter was at 7.9 hours.

A breakdown of social media response times and rates by industry found that government companies had the longest response time—14.5 hours—and a response rate of just 17%. The entertainment industry had a relatively short response time of 10.0 hours but answered just 11% of messages from followers—the lowest response rate and likely due to the fact that this category draws a huge crowd.

The banking/finance industry was a shining star among sectors, answering 28% of users—the No. 1 response rate—typically in 10.0 hours. Utilities had an even shorter response time (9.7 hours) and a response rate of 27%.

September 2013 polling by Adobe found that nearly three-quarters of US marketers thought customer response management on digital channels was important; however, just one-third said their company was doing a good job at this. And followers shouldn’t expect response rates or times to improve anytime soon: Only 6% of survey respondents said customer response management would be one of the most important digital marketing areas in the next three years.

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