Study Finds It Is Best for Companies Not to Respond Publicly to Twitter Complaints

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Apr 30, 2021
twitter

If a customer complains about a company on Twitter, a recent study has found that it's better, on the whole, for the company not to engage in public and instead try addressing the matter privately, the Harvard Business Review reported. The study looked at Twitter traffic for S&P 500 companies that had Twitter pages from 2014 and 2015 (a total of 375 firms).

After measuring the volume of firm tweets, customer complaint tweets and firm responses for each quarter, and then compared those numbers to changes in the firms’ market value and perceived quality, the researchers found that the more a firm responded to complaints, the more likely it was to fall in both value and in perceived brand quality. Further, when firms responded to complaints publicly on Twitter, their responses would often drown out their other tweets, leading to lower engagement rates for their noncomplaint-related tweets.

The researchers found a similar effect with tweets related specifically to product recalls; as in the other experiment, the researchers found that companies that were more likely to publicly respond to complaints were more likely to experience  drop in stock price, and to experience even more public complaints in the future.

This doesn't mean that companies should ignore all complaints: The researchers found that the most successful companies were those that responded to public complaints with private messages. These firms,including McDonald's, were able to address individual complaints while, at the same time, insulating themselves from the stock price and future-complaint effects.

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