Social Media Metric of the Future: Average Response Time
What’s Your Social Media Average Response Time?
What’s Your Social Media Average Response Time?

If you hold true the notion that being responsive to online customer questions, complaints and feedback is an essential core tenet of good social media marketing, then you should consider your response time a valuable success metric. Being fast (and first) to respond to the online conversation, particularly when it turns bad, is a critical component of online customer service and an engaged social business.

The fast food industry certainly appreciates response time. The word “fast” is in the description of their market segment. Those computer monitors that hang from the ceilings behind counters at McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A and the like primarily display the orders yet to be filled, but secondarily also flash how long it has been since the order was placed to keep the staff focused on their basic unique selling proposition: fast.

I took a few minutes to plug several restaurants into Expion, an enterprise social media management solution focused on franchise and multiple location businesses. They are a client of mine and their back-end analytics offer a pretty amazing ability to pull information about your competitor’s activity on Facebook and Twitter and allow you to compare, analyze, etc.

Response time Expion
Looking across a landscape of fast food offerings including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Tim Horton’s, Hardee’s, Arby’s, Subway, Quizno’s, Panera Bread and A&W, we find some interesting correlations. For the time frame of Jan. 1 through Jan. 17 of this year, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and Chick-Fil-A all had average first-time responses under 1:30. All three have over 1,100 fan posts on their wall. No other restaurants were close in fan post volume. One could correlate that the more responsive a brand is, the more engaged their fans are.

Wendy’s has an astonishing 20-minute response time to over 6,000 posts (17.6 percent of the 37K posts in the first two weeks of January). Of course, the restaurant’s FryForAll promotion and application accounts for the lion’s share of their posts, but still. Some 225 entries on Wendy’s Facebook page have been deemed negative by Expion’s keyword filters and the restaurant is there to offer a response.

Pizza Hut is victimized by Facebook Wall spammers quite a bit and doesn’t seem to do a very good job of moderating or controlling the issue. They responded to nine percent of all fan posts in about 1:15. Their response to the negative posts, however, was just 24 minutes, so nice steppin’ up.

Chick-Fil-A has an impressive 37.2% response rate for all wall posts — highest among those I looked at. They also responded to 56 percent of those deemed negative (behind Quizno’s, Subway and Arby’s). But only Quizno’s matched their 55 minue response time. It took Arby’s almost 11 hours.

Keep in mind, this is just me plugging in some corporate brand pages and seeing what’s there. There was nothing scientific about this comparison and no, I didn’t investigate all of the activity on each page to see if there were anomalies or explanations for the activity, outside of seeing what the disparity was for the Wendy’s activity. Five of the restaurants listed have more than one million Facebook fans/likes, (A&W was the smallest with 80K+) so we’re also dealing with a huge potential audience. Your brand will likely differ.

But being responsive is a core component to many social media marketing efforts. And these cursory numbers show there might just be a correlation between responsiveness and engagement. (At least more statistically than just the anecdotal ones we would tend to assume, right?)

While response time may certainly not be THE factor that drives your Facebook fan efforts, it is at least one measure of success you can quantify and track. If responsiveness is of high importance to your efforts, I would encourage you to find a tool that can do just that and allow you to compare yourself to others for more context. My friends at Expion can certainly help. But if you know of another tool that does the same, we’d be happy for you to share a link to it in the comments.

So, are you tracking your response times? How so and with what tools? Is that metric important to your social media efforts? Why or why not?

The comments are yours!

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About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at

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