Money talks when it comes to Twitter complaints
A survey from US research heavyweights Edison indicates that those earning in excess of $100,000 a year are almost twice as likely to be contacted by companies after commenting about them on social media forums, as opposed to those earning less than $50,000 a year.
The survey – which questioned 3,000 people – stated that of those who post a comment about a brand via Twitter over 25 per cent of the people who make over $100,000 a year get a response back from the brand in question, as opposed to 13 per cent of those earning under $50,000.
In addition, of those who made a complaint about a brand over Twitter almost 80 per cent of those earning over $100,000 received a response via phone, email or tweet as opposed to 45 per cent of those earning less than half that amount. “There’s this huge gap,” says the US-based head of Schafer Marketing Solutions Mark Schafer.
“The only thing we absolutely do know is that rich people get more response and attention to their complaints on the web.”
Schafer is acting as a consultant on the major Social Habit research project which produced the report alongside Edison, and he feels the results could be replicated in Ireland or anywhere else in the world which has heavy social media usage, not just the US.
According to Schafer – who will be talking about the findings at a conference held by the Digital Marketing Institute in Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema on February 7th – the report represents the first time an established research company in the US has looked into the impact of social media on customer service.
Three possible reasons have been put forward by Schafer for the findings.
First is that those with larger incomes are complaining to companies or luxury brands which are likely to have a responsive social media presence.
Second is that companies are using their internal customer relationship management software to see whether clients “with the fattest wallets” are to be answered first.
Finally, there is the possibility that wealthy people have “better complaining skills”, more likely to illicit responses.
The final hypothesis is a possibility according to Shonagh Hurley, who is senior digital development manager with Dublin-based communications company Thinkhouse.
“Maybe people who earn more money and are better educated construct a more rounded question to get a response,” she says.
However, the overall idea that companies structure social media responses based on income isn’t “very realistic”, she adds. “You answer the question so that your consumer facing page looks like it’s being managed well,” says Hurley.
Taking on Schafer’s second hypothesis Beatrice Whelan, social media and content specialist with CRM providers Sage, says she’s “never heard of a company” which uses CRM information to decipher whether or not they should respond to a comment or complaint made through Twitter or Facebook.
Businesses do though, she admits, “use CRM to gain a richer picture of different prospects and people they’re engaging with” which can take in conversations via telephone, email and, yes, social media.
She also notes that in some cases companies may be tempted to respond more promptly to a complaint from someone with a “senior title” such as “VP or financial controller”.
“People may think ‘this is a decision maker and we have to be reactive’. In that case, obviously because they’re a decision maker they’re highly paid.”
Phil Ryan, CTO with CRM specialists iSite, says CRM is not a “Big Brother system”, and that it would be hard to create an “organised or structured” approach to cross referencing “Twitter handles” of those complaining about a product with in-house CRM systems.