CHICAGO—December 11, 2013—Social media has fundamentally changed the way brands and people communicate. As customers turn to social media to voice their opinions or questions for a brand – a single response, or lack thereof, can create a brand movement, controversy, advocate or enemy. The Sprout Social Index: Engagement & Customer Care, released today, finds that while brands receive 175% more messages from one year ago, they are increasingly less responsive and slower to respond. At a time when consumer initiated conversations with brands are growing at a rate 9x faster than Facebook and Twitter themselves, the Index findings underscore the urgency for brands to keep pace with these rapid changes in human behavior.

The report from Sprout Social, a social media engagement platform for businesses, shines a light on the gap in the social business dialogue and the overall role social plays in the customer service experience across various industries. Sprout aggregated and analyzed public Twitter and Facebook social profile data from Q3 2012 through Q3 2013 to explore people’s brand engagement patterns on social media. Segmentation of data by industry, message volume and audience size also provides brands with additional context and analysis at ways to best engage through social communication channels.

“Customers increasingly turn to social media to engage directly with brands, so it is vital that businesses are willing and equipped to not only respond—but do so in a timely and meaningful way,” said Justyn Howard, CEO of Sprout Social. “Some industries are ahead of the curve and have dedicated resources to engage, but others still have to shift their strategy to stay relevant and offer effective social customer care.”

Among those leading the way for social engagement are the Utilities and Finance industries—both of which respond to a high number of the messages they receive from their customers. Per the Index, the most engaged users are in the Utilities, Real Estate and Consumer Goods industries while the most responsive industries are Utilities, Banking/Finance and Automotive. Additional findings include:

  • Social activity between people and brands continues to rise at an exponential rate.
    • 175 percent growth in brands’ inbound messages since last year
    • Top 2 growth industries: Media/Entertainment (350%) and Utilities (201%)
  • Brands are not improving timely responses as quickly as volume grows.
    • 4 percent drop in average brand response times (10.9 to 11.3 hours)
    • Response rates have dipped below 20% – meaning 4 out of 5 messages go unanswered
  • Customer-brand engagement across Facebook and Twitter varies.
    • On average, brands receive 53% more messages on Twitter than they do on Facebook
    • More customers use Facebook to interact with Automotive & Retail brands while Twitter is the platform of choice for engaging with Entertainment, Government and Tech brands

“Our data confirms that social is a vital component of a company’s relationship with their customers and a permanent part of the dialogue between brands and individuals,” says Howard. “Regardless of a business’s industry, size or structure, engaging with audiences on social improves brand perception as well as their bottom line.”

Inside The Index, Sprout also offers strategies for more effective social customer care, including:

  • Build for Responsiveness. Your social media team doesn’t need to be large but they should be nimble and armed with the skills, information and authority to craft timely and relevant responses.
  • Utilize Metrics. Determine which engagement markers are important for your business, continually track against them, analyze the results and determine what improvements you can make to your customer’s social experience with your business. .
  • Select the Right Solutions. Utilize social tools built for efficiency and collaboration to help you keep track of customer conversations and determine what messages have been addressed and which still need your attention.

The Sprout Social Index: Engagement & Customer Care is a report compiled by Sprout Social. All referenced data is based on nearly 20,000 public social profiles (8,713 Twitter, 10,671 Facebook) of continually active accounts between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013. More than 160 million messages sent during that time were analyzed for the purposes for this report.

To download the full Sprout Social Index: Engagement & Customer Care, visit

About Sprout Social

Sprout Social provides social media engagement, publishing and analytic tools for leading brands including AMD, McDonald’s, UPS, Spotify and Nokia. A powerful platform for social business, Sprout enables brands to more effectively manage social channels and provide an exceptional customer experience. Headquartered in Chicago, Sprout is a Twitter Certified Product, Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer and Google+ Pages Certified API Partner.