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According to new research that’s fresh out of the ovens of Millward Brown Digital, commissioned by Lithium Technologies, consumers are rewarding brands that respond to their demands made on Twitter and punishing those that don’t respond in a timely way. That’s right, consumers expect their Tweets to get responses, fairly quickly, by the brands they’ve commented to on Twitter.

Rare is the day when I get to quote my grandmother and Omar Little in the same blog. But duty calls and who am I to shrug off my responsibility? In regards to the fictional character of ill repute and storied fame, Omar Little might as well have been talking about brands and Twitter when he said, “The game is out there, and it’s either play or get played.” Attorneys and law firms with Twitter and other social media accounts, are you listening?

According to the study, “Customers have high expectations for a quick response: 53 percent who expect a brand to respond to their Tweet demand that response comes in less than an hour. That figure skyrockets to 72 percent when they have complaints.” That’s 60 minutes or less. How often do you check your law firm’s Twitter account?

When brands fail to meet these standards, according to the survey, almost 40 % “feel more negative about the brand and a full 60 percent will take unpleasant actions to express their dissatisfaction”. These are significant numbers. No one likes unpleasant actions, however they are defined.

As to the survey’s methodology, the data is based on “more than 500 respondents who have ever re-Tweeted, Tweeted directly to or about a brand/company on Twitter.” Millward Brown Digital states that the study has a “Confidence Interval of +/- 4-5%”.

This does not appear to be trivial dissatisfaction on the part of consumers. According to Lithium, “The implications of failing to respond quickly on Twitter are serious and the majority of users will escalate their negativity — from closing their wallets to publicly shaming the brand on social media. In fact, 74 percent of customers who take to social media to shame brands believe it leads to better service. What’s more, even consumers who are initially positive can quickly turn negative if brands fail to respond to their Tweets in a timely manner.” Ouch.

So, what does this mean for attorneys and law firms who Tweet? I would surmise similar conclusions. No customer likes being ignored. When lawyers harness social media to promote their online content as well as their legal services they need to stay on top of it and be nimble in their replies to customer engagement.

The above information appears consistent with other social media where consumers interact with brands. According to a different study, brands are working hard to improve their response times to consumer posts on their Facebook pages. It requires brands, including law firms, to have someone dedicated to their social media accounts.

The Lithium/Millward study did reflect the positive side of brands investing in robust social media engagement and reaction. According to Lithium, when brands provide customers with timely responses:

  • 34% are likely to buy more from that company;
  • 43% are likely to encourage friends and family to buy their products.;
  • 38 percent are more receptive to their advertisements;
  • 42 percent are willing to praise or recommend the brand through social media.

Finally, according to Millward Brown Digital Senior Vice President, Media Practice Michael Perlman “Twitter has evolved into a preferred method for communicating with brands and has the potential to grow even further. Brands need to be prepared for the rapid shift taking place in consumer expectations regarding social response.”

So, it’s up to law firms to play the game (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) right, and respond as they would personally like to be responded to. If they do, it’s looking fairly clear that consumers will reward you. It takes some investment and dedication, but the rewards clearly look to outweigh the risks. No use having a social media account if you’re not going to play respectfully, because, as Omar was also fond of saying, “It’s all in the game.”