Across 15 Industries, 1 Stands out From the Rest
Let’s face it, Hollywood has always marched to the beat of its own drum. Therein lies much of its magic. And on social media, it’s pretty much the same script.
In fact, according the latest Sprout Social Index, the entire media and entertainment industry—which includes journalists and DJs as well as cinema and sports—reveals itself yet again to be one big anomaly.
In examining trends for 15 verticals across Facebook and Twitter, the latest Sprout Social Index uncovers several surprising standouts (but not always for the right reasons). In this edition, for Q1 2016, we shine a light on the media and entertainment industry while examining how people talk to brands across all major industries as well as several networks, including, for the first time, our latest integration, Instagram.
At the start of Q1, we discovered that all brands are seeing an average of 2,742 messages per social account across industries. Last quarter alone, the average social profile in the media and entertainment category received a staggering 9,052. That’s about 3 times as many messages as the next closest industry, nonprofits, which received just 3,105 messages in the same time period. For every social account tied to media and entertainment, that comes down to about 100 messages a day, 44 of which directly require a response—that’s 44 opportunities to strengthen your brand. Yet for every 9 promotional messages, the industry issues just 1 response.
So, with big-time social events like the Super Bowl and Academy Awards just around the corner, how will the industry respond (for better or for worse)—and what can others learn as a result? Our Q1 2016 Sprout Social Index takes a closer look.
Give the People What They Want?
Several studies suggest it’s time for the media and entertainment industry to wake up and get talking on social. Fans demand it, and it’s becoming increasingly important to the bottom line.
- 88% of viewers supplement entertainment with Facebook and Twitter; 72% post about movies (Hollywood Reporter).
- 66% of viewers want more Tweets from shows while tuning in (FOX, the Advertising Research Foundation, db5 and Twitter).
- Advertisers and agencies now factor social engagement into media planning and buying (Nielsen).
Fastest to Respond
There is one thing that media and entertainment does well—and that is get back to its audience quickly. The downside is that it’s able to get back faster because it’s responding to people at the lowest rate of any industry (just 6.6% of the time).
In fact, media and entertainment is tied with education, professional services and utilities for having some of the quickest responses on social (at 9 hours). Of course, according to Convince & Convert, 42% of consumers expect to hear back within an hour. So hold your applause, please.
The most responsive group this time around goes to the retail industry (at a rate of 18.2%). Coming off a busy holiday season, perhaps many retailers took our advice from last quarter.
Most Engaged Audience
Think of “average social messages that need a response” as a barometer for audience engagement. In this category, the travel and hospitality industry is sailing ahead. More than half (55%) of the messages it receives provide an entry point for conversation.
Most Customer Centric
We were delighted this quarter to see the utilities industry dip into the negatives for a very positive reason: With a ratio of -0.4 posts-per-replies, the industry issues more responses than it does promotional updates on social, showing that it prioritizes social customer care.
Overall Industry Takeaways
Most brands appear to still be uncovering the full value of social media, not just as a promotional venue but also as a powerful, two-way communications tool. This is something we have seen—and have been saying—since launching The Sprout Social Index in 2013. A few key takeaways as we assess trends over the past two years:
- Brands are being hit with more messages. There has been a direct and steady spike in incoming social messages, from 1,790 in Q3 2013 up to 2,742 to date.
- Consumer expectations are increasing. In Q3 2013, only 15% of social messages needed a response; in recent quarters, that number has hovered around 43%.
- Brand response rates are getting worse. In Q4 2013, 14% of social messages received a response across industries. Today, the response rate has fallen to less than 11%.
- Brand response times are flatlining. First, the somewhat good news: In Q4 2013, you had to wait about 13 hours for a social response from a brand. Today, you have to wait 11 hours, but that has been consistently the case since Q3 2014. Of course, any way you slice it, this isn’t acceptable—imagine being placed on hold for half the day.
- Brands are being even less considerate of customers. While people wait, brands are posting, on average, about 3.2 promotional messages for every 1 reply given to customers. In Q4 2013, this ratio was a bit better, at 2.5 to 1.
Scale at the Rate of a Small Biz
Consider this: While small businesses (organizations of 0–200 employees) have far fewer resources than big industry players, they are actually much more efficient at managing their Facebook and Twitter accounts than their medium- (201–1,000 employees) and large-sized (1,000+ employees) counterparts.
The average small business receives about 10 messages per employee—compared to just 6 for medium-sized organizations and 0.5 for large corporations—yet they are capable of responding at nearly the same rate. What’s more, small businesses actually edge out their bigger rivals by a slight margin, responding to 10.7% of social messages, compared to 10.6% for large businesses and 10.1% for medium businesses.
Conversations vs. Promotions: Strive for a 1:3 Ratio
The Q1 2016 Sprout Social Index finds a striking correlation between brands with the lowest post-per-reply ratio (2.8) and those with the biggest audiences (of 101K+).
Of course, Sprout would suggest that brands with a sizable audience have a greater reason to make a bigger investment in social customer care.
So, is it the chicken or the egg? One thing is clear: If you want to build and/or maintain a bigger flock of fans, aim to strike up at least 1 conversation for about every 3 messages you put out on social.
Twitter vs. Facebook
If you’re looking to get a response from brands, you’re better off heading to Twitter. Response rates on Twitter are 36% better than they are on Facebook.
Additionally, you won’t have to hold your breath quite as long—you should hear back from a brand about 3 hours faster on Twitter than Facebook.
Still, brands are continuing to grow their promotional efforts on Facebook. Since Q4 2014, brands have increased the amount of messages they’re sending on Facebook by nearly 90%.
Instagram: The New Starlet
Instagram is exponentially growing in popularity. More and more, people are using the network to engage in conversations with brands, but brands aren’t keeping up. In fact, last quarter, brands received 115% more messages from their audience on the platform; however, they only increased the messages they sent by 28%.
Community Managers, Take Note
If you want to improve your brand response rate and time—which will build engagement and therefore your overall social value—take this advice from Sprout’s very own Social Media Manager Darryl Villacorta.
- Develop a comprehensive customer service strategy for your brand on social.
- Designate time slots and schedules to avoid outbound messaging collision.
- Identify which messages are more pressing than others and if they need approval.
- Follow up. By going the extra mile, you will build relationships over time and lessen the likelihood of negative sentiment in the future.
- Be as thorough as possible with your initial responses—it will eliminate a lot of back-and-forth.
- Don’t compromise professionalism in the name of speed. You may be creating extra work for yourself by having to apologize for spelling mistakes and more.
- Know that it’s OK to work off of a response template—but remain human and personalize.
- Take it offline when needed. Some inquiries deserve more time and support than others, and by taking it offline, it allows a one-on-one discussion that also provides a little extra breathing room. Just make sure you ask the customer before you do so.
- If your brand is setting time parameters (M–F, 9–5)—which we don’t recommend if you have the resources, given social’s 24/7 cycle—take that into account when assessing overall response time. Also, make sure your audience knows about peak hours of customer care operation by putting that information in your bio or in a pinned Tweet.
- Know your product from top to bottom. Details matter and the more knowledgeable you are, the more efficient your answers will become.
Lastly, Darryl leaves brands with this key piece of advice: “Find the problems before your customers do. Proactive customer service goes a long way to build loyalty and repeat business.”
About the Data
The Sprout Social Index is a report compiled and released by Sprout Social. All referenced data is based on 198K public social profiles (95K Facebook; 78K Twitter; 25K Instagram) of continually active accounts between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015. More than 1 billion messages sent and received during that time were analyzed for the purposes of this report. Some data may have shifted from the last Sprout Social Index report due to a shift in the social profiles analyzed; however, all overarching trends remain consistent. Industry classifications were based on LinkedIn industry categories. In some cases, closely related industries were merged into a single overarching industry. All messages analyzed that were considered casual mentions or not in need of a response were excluded from engagement, response rate and response time calculations with the intention of eliminating noise. Analysis of which messages required attention was done using Sprout’s proprietary technologies. Response time and response rate calculations were done using Sprout’s Engagement Reporting technology found in the Sprout Social product. For questions about the Index data, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.