Does irritation with social networks mean trouble for your brand?

A new survey finds that major platforms rank relatively low when it comes to user satisfaction. That malaise needn’t hurt your online efforts, though.

Online users spend most of their time on social networks.

From creating connections and garnering followers to sharing content, posting updates, and publishing photos, we live in a society connected by online networks and digital communities. The average user accesses his or her social networks of choice daily.

That’s why the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, released July 22, surprised many. Could your brand’s online efforts be suffering because of general dissatisfaction with social media platforms?

The statistics

According to the annual study, which was based on interviews with over 6,000 consumers in the United States, the largest social networks—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—rank among the lowest-scoring companies in the nation for customer satisfaction.

The category that houses these networks, “social media,” was the fourth-lowest category overall with a satisfaction rating of 71 out of 100. This put it ahead of only Internet service providers (63 out of 100), cable/subscription television companies (65 out of 100), and airlines (69 out of 100).

The survey results—with 100 being the best and 0 being the worst—were broken down by network as follows:

  • Facebook: 67 percent satisfaction
  • LinkedIn: 67 percent satisfaction
  • Twitter: 69 percent satisfaction
  • Google+: 71 percent satisfaction
  • YouTube: 73 percent satisfaction
  • Pinterest: 76 percent satisfaction

The bottom line is that social media satisfaction is low compared with other categories.

The good news

The survey doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on social networking for brand promotion. In fact, there’s good news behind the customer frustration level. According to the survey, customer satisfaction with social networks as a whole increased by 4.4 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Even though customers are somewhat dissatisfied with social networks, they are still using the networks and satisfaction is slowly increasing.

The application

How can you ensure that your brand’s audience is on the satisfied side of the spectrum?

The survey results make it clear that there are reasons for dissatisfaction. They include:

  • Privacy concerns
  • A lack of perceived value
  • Unresolved customer-service issues

Addressing each concern with a clear, targeted social media strategy is the first step toward success.

Keep it private

By demonstrating to customers that you value their privacy and will not intrude when not welcome, you’re showing that you don’t take advantage of the information that social media networks make so readily available.

Share regularly—on your site and in your social media communities—that privacy matters to you and that you’ll never exploit or share customer information. Best Buy does its part to ensure the privacy of its followers through a targeted Corporate Social Media Policy.

Never contact customers through a communication method they did not share with you, and do not auto-import customers into a site or mailing list without consent.

Demonstrate value

If your customers have no reason to frequent your social media pages, they won’t. They’ll see your posts as distractions within already-distracting networks.

Look for ways to create and share content that adds value. What questions are your customers asking you on a regular basis? What news topics matter to them? Share along those lines. For example, an auto parts website looking to build a social media following would probably gain users by posting content relating to classic car shows. Actionable content is valuable.

Resolve issues immediately

In any business, it’s a given that customer service issues will crop up. This is especially true online where social networks make it easy for consumers to connect with any brand at any time. How you handle these issues could increase or decrease your followers’ overall satisfaction rating of your brand.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has taken this idea to the next level by displaying a live customer service response wait time on its social media accounts, such as Twitter. When a customer posts to the network’s page, they will have an idea of exactly how long it will take to get a response. The point behind this is that customers should be able to approach your brand online with a guarantee that they will receive attention or a resolution. This can boost satisfaction rates instantly.

A low satisfaction rate with social media networks doesn’t mean your brand has to suffer. By addressing the issues listed above, you can take your customer satisfaction levels to new heights, even on lower-ranked networks. A few steps today can make a big difference tomorrow.

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