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Agents, you’re taking too long to respond on social media

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Sprout Social revealed in their Q3 2017 Sprout Social Index that 81% of consumers believe social media has increased accountability for brands. That is 81% of 1,000 consumers who believe that brands are now far more likely to have to acknowledge and act on issues such as unfair treatment and the need for increased transparency.

The company focuses on the fact that consumers are feeling more empowered than ever by the fact that they are not alone in their unhappiness or frustration with a brand. “Calling out” the brand on social media will elicit a response, action or solution by the company, and will prompt most of their contacts to an action against a brand, and if the brand doesn’t respond 18% say they’ll continue posting on social media while 35% say they will actively call for a boycott of the brand.

In fact, the power of this realisation is such that 47% of consumers are now using social channels as their primary means of lodging a complaint. Your frustrated client’s complaint will therefore be out there, for the whole world to see. When, and how, you respond has never been more important.

The research showed that the chief reason consumers will post on social media is to create awareness among other consumers (70%) followed by a desire for an apology or solution from the brand (55%) or to raise awareness among media (51%).

How far does the impact reach?

Ripple effect

65% of consumers will hesitate before using your service or product if they’ve seen a complaint about you on social media, feeling the need to do their research before deciding for themselves whether or not they are comfortable with the brand. A further 17% decides right there and then that they will no longer do business with you while 16% feels annoyed by your business.

The good news is that 45% of consumers will use social media to praise your business if you’ve provided a good response to their complaint on social media, 37% will share the positive experience with their social media contacts, while a further 31% will talk about your brand and the great response offline, “in real life”.

Furthermore, should another consumer see a negative review or complaint on social media and be able to pick up a response and great solution to that complaint, 44% of them will change their view on the business. At the same time 42% will change their mind as a result of being able to weigh up the bad review or complaint versus positive posts on your social media.

Your brands response is therefore vital. Consumers are as unimpressed with a poorly thought-through response posted in quick response as they would be with a brand that doesn’t respond. According to Sprout Social consumers want to see brands “assume responsibility, speak directly to their customers and apologise when necessary.”

How’s the real estate industry holding up?


As far as actually responding to messages from consumers requiring an answer, real estate businesses are securely average, with only 11% of messages actually receiving responses. This is the average for the industries looked at in the study; retail business are the best performers with 19% of their consumer messages receiving responses while media businesses make up the tail end with only a 6% response rate. It does, however, take real estate business comparatively long to respond, with an average lead time of just over 11 hours until a consumer receives a response.

The study also ranked industries in terms of ‘brand engagement ranking’ and ‘consumer engagement ranking’; these rankings refer to how responsive brands are to consumers on social media, and how likely consumers are to use social media to communicate with the brand, respectively.

Here’s how house buying has been made fully transparent

In terms of brand engagement ranking real estate businesses rank at #6, while consumer engagement ranking is at #4. This seems to indicate that real estate brands’ eagerness to engage with customers complaining on social media more than matches the likelihood of customers actually opting to use social media to complain. It is likely that consumers are using the other preferred method of airing grievances – in person, however, the statistics show that a fairly high number of messages received by real estate business are messages that require a response. This is to say that, when a consumer does message a real estate business it is very likely to be a message that requires a fast, well-constructed response.

Zooming in on what the South African industry needs to do to improve

Social media

Entegral, syndication and website provider for the South African real estate industry, believes that the stats point to an industry spending a lot of time promoting and selling its services online but far from enough time engaging with it audience in a meaningful way.

Annali Smith from Entegral recommends these five steps to get the maximum from your social media interaction:

  1. When there is a question answer it: The easiest and most basic step to improve your image with consumers. When you get questions from social media or enquiries from portals respond timeously.
  2. Engage on community pages: Don’t just use community pages to sell your bran and new listings. Helpfully answer questions community members might have. This creates your brand as an area specialist.
  3. Add reviews: Referrals are the best kind of marketing. If the review is negative, contact the client, and if justified, address the complaint on social media.
  4. Go Live: This is an invaluable platform to use to educate your clients. Consumers are unsure about almost every step in the buying and selling process or of their rights as landlords and tenants. Going Live for an educational event boosts your brand as an advocate for education and transparency.
  5. Incorporate excellent photography: Having visually-stimulating photographs to market your listings, especially on highly visual platforms such as Instagram, and increasingly Facebook, is essentially. If you are just starting out and cannot afford a professional photographer, at least purchase a quality camera and consider signing up for some courses.

The bottom line is that no business can, and should, ignore social media any longer. Your customers are commenting on your abilities, or perceived lack thereof, whether you’re there or not.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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