Do big brands really listen on Social Media?

Big brands say they listen to their customers, but do they really?  They say they welcome feedback, and make use of social media to help and support their users.  They claim to embrace comments, compliments or complaints.

Social Listening is something everything business should do.  It’s pretty simple to do – just use a social media tool like Hootsuite, and setup a few “Search streams” for your brand names, your products, your staff, and anything else you want to listen out for.  Then when someone mentions you on a social platform, you can easily see (or listen to) what the world is saying about you.

Based on all their customer service claims, surely all the big brands listen?  And surely if they listen, they’ll reach out and help a customer in need?


To test this theory, I’ve started a new Friday challenge on Twitter – #AreYouListening.  Without mentioning their Twitter @username (tagging them), I’ve started asking big brands for help – simply mentioning them by name, and explaining a (fictional) problem I’ve got with their product or service.  The test is basically to see how long it takes them to reply – or even if they reply at all.  Surely all the big brands will?

This week – I challenged 3 of the leading UK Broadband providers: BT Broadband, Virgin Media, and Sky.  You can see my 3 #AreYouListening Tweets below:



The responses (or lack of them) surprised me.

2 of these Telecoms giants (1 week later) have yet to respond at all.  So they’ve either simply not seen my tweets, and therefore don’t listen on social media, or (more concerning) they did see them, and have chosen to ignore me – a potential customer, in need of help.  Ok – there is also the 3rd option which is they know I’m just messing, and have probably cursed me for wasting their precious time, and maybe used their time to go on and help actual customers with actual issues.  In actual fact is – I AM a customer of one of these businesses, and I have had previous issues just like that described.

So take a bow – Virgin Media, and Sky Broadband – 2 companies that despite saying otherwise, have proven to me that they don’t actually listen to customers.

Compare that with BT Broadband – a company which I often see taking a beating on social media, as people rant and scream at them for broadband speed problems, downtime, and customer service as a whole.  Whatever your views on BT, I couldn’t help be impressed by how quickly they proved they do indeed listen, and cared enough to respond back to me…  all within 2 minutes.



Well done @BTCare (and specifically to Aisling) who replied to a customer in need, and signposted me to some further help.  Did they know I was simply testing them?  Maybe.  But even if they did – it proves that not only do they listen, it also shows that just like their own previous marketing slogan – it’s good to talk.

Stay tuned – this week, I’m taking on the Banks!  Do you think they’ll be listening?

If you’d like to learn more about Social Listening, and how to deliver social customer service, then get in touch, or consider one of our social media training courses.

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