By Max Clarke

The UK population are increasingly using social media to express their opinions about brands and companies, A survey conducted online by YouGov on behalf of Interactive Intelligence reveals.

The findings, based on a sample size of 4080 people, send a strong message to businesses and demonstrate the importance for companies to regularly monitor social media and respond to their customers appropriately.

The majority of respondents surveyed said if they were guaranteed a quick response they would consider communicating with a brand or company using social media instead of using traditional methods. The results indicate, however, that companies and brands are slow to react to direct negative comments posted on social media sites. Almost half of the respondents who had complained to a company using social media had either never received a response from the company or had to wait more than 48 hours for a reply.

“These strong statistics send a stark warning to those companies and brands who don’t monitor the “chatter” on social media sites. Dave Paulding, regional sales director UK, Middle East & Africa, Interactive Intelligence.

“Of course,” continued Paulding, “there will always be people who want to pick up the phone or send an email to speak or complain directly to a company, but with a growing number willing to express their opinions openly on social media sites; the time has come for customer services departments to adapt their strategies.”

Recently published figures from Facebook state that nearly 30 million Britons have a Facebook presence. The Interactive Intelligence survey suggests that almost a third of people who use social media are likely or very likely to operate this medium to post positive or negative comments to express their opinions about a brand or company. Based on the Facebook stats that could potentially mean as many as 10 million people are ready to express their opinion via social media channels in the UK alone.

Age and social status are also significant factors when it comes to those people who feel they are swayed by comments posted on social media sites - 60% of social media users aged 25 to 34 year olds said they are influenced by both positive and negative comments about a brand or company, whereas 64% aged 55 or over said they are not influenced by any comments on a social media site.

Paulding continues: “It’s not just about monitoring the social media sites, it’s also about intervention. Companies need to be proactive and positive if they want to maintain their brand image and keep customers happy”.

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