Why are UK companies a long way behind their US counterparts when it comes to engaging with their customers via social media?


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Mind the gap UK is way behind the US in social media use in business

Often I hear complaints from companies in the UK that they are finding it increasingly hard to keep up and to engage with their customers, deal with complaints, questions or communication, particularly those that are initially posted on social media sites or sent directly via social media channels.

At the same time, I hear great success stories or how companies are making great strides in using social media to engage with their customers and grow their businesses.

Then, I saw the following recent tweet by my fellow blogger (@michellecarvill)

Tweet from Michelle Carvill

The link in the tweet pointed to a blog on NetImperative about a piece of research from Auros, the internet consultancy and technology company, which found out that the UK’s top 25 retailers are largely unresponsive when it comes to engaging on social media channels.

In their research, Auros found that only one in four (25%) of retailers with a presence on Twitter replied to a question directed at them, despite retailers having made a clear investment in social media (80% of the retailers surveyed had a Twitter account and 72% of them are active on Facebook).

That’s not to say that everyone is not going well. According to the research, Thomas Cook, easyJet and Debenhams topped the responsiveness table in the UK.

Now, I don’t know about you but I found this pretty shocking.

But, then I wondered how this compared to other regions, like the US.

My research found this recent piece of US research from RightNow: Retail Consumer Report: Study Finds Retailers Can Win Back Unhappy Customers Through Social Media which shows that:

  • 68% of consumers who posted a complaint or negative review on a social networking after a negative holiday shopping experience got a response from a retailer;
  • Of those:
    • 18% turned into loyal customers; and
    • 33% turned around and posted a positive review.

Stark difference. Yes?

Why do think there is such a difference between the US and the UK? Is it that:

  • The US is further along on the social media adoption curve ie. they have been using it for longer so are more familiar with it?
  • Is it that we are still stuck in largely ‘broadcast’ mode here in the UK despite research that shows that:
  • “CEOs in the UK and Ireland are particularly determined to put customers – or citizens, in the case of public sector leaders – front and centre. “Getting connected”, using multiple channels to better understand, predict and give customers what they really want, is the top priority for 89%.”

  • Or, is it that they have been sold on the idea of having a social media presence but not on how to really use it?

What do you think?

Thanks to spin’n’shoot for the image.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


  1. The article title and key message is a flawed statement, not supported by any evidence.

    The ‘evidence’ offered are two separate studies by different research organisations, conducted with different audiences in different conditions. Most important: they ask completely different questions (!) as they seek to establish different things. (It is also worth noting that at least one of the studies is commissioned by a commercial organisation with a vested interest in consumer engagement technologies).

    The percentages (apples and cucumbers) are then compared as if they come from the same study!?!

    I wouldn’t be equally unprofessional to claim that the opposite is true (I haven’t seen reliable evidence), but it seems that the ‘science’ is used to support confused priorities between the issues of ‘How companies are using social media?’ and ‘Who is ahead in the race?’

    What race? Pop idol, anyone?

    Enjoy the weekend!

  2. Vladimir,
    Thank you for your input, perspective and robust challenge of the content of post. I concede that it can be seen as comparing ‘apples and cucumbers’. What I thought was interesting was the comparison of two different perspectives from two different geographies to see if there were any broad conclusions that could be drawn.

    Thank you for your input. Hope you enjoyed Pop Idol! 😉



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