SMART: A New Social Media Metric?

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Imagine that you’re stationed on a Navy boat in the Middle East, and — God forbid — some enemy force launches a missile at your boat. What would you hope the boat’s response time to identifying the attack is? Milliseconds?

I have no idea what the actual response time is, but considering we’re talking a matter of life and death, I’m willing to bet that the Navy’s response time is pretty damn fast.

Now imagine that you work for the Navy Federal Credit Union, and somebody — not even a CU member — tweets something negative about the credit union. What should the credit union’s response time be?

Certainly not milliseconds. An hour? Before the end of that calendar day? Forty eight hours?

Remember, we’re not talking life and death here. We’re talking — at best — about reputation. And I would argue that depending on who did the tweeting, the long-term potential impact of a single negative tweet is not very great.

I raise this point because of a blog post I recently saw mentioned Navy FCU, and the blogger went on to tweet — just a few hours after putting up the post — about how NFCU hadn’t responded yet to his criticism. (P.S. I’m not sure, but I don’t think the blogger is a NFCU member).

This raises the question: What should a firm’s SMART (social media attack response time) be?

As I read blogs and tweets that exhort firms to respond “within the hour” or even immediately, I can’t help but think: LET’S PUT THIS IN PERSPECTIVE, PEOPLE.

The first two questions a firm should be asking are: 1) Who launched the attack (er, lodged the complaint or critique)? and 2) Who saw it?

Is the critic a customer of the firm? If yes, that would argue for faster than slower response. But in the example we’re discussing, the critic was someone from the credit union community. Which doesn’t warrant putting a response on the top of the stack, in my book.

The other question concerns who saw the criticism. Not to pass any judgement about the blog in question (after all, I can’t even begin to tell you how few people will see this blog post), but I think it’s very unlikely that many —  if any — NFCU members saw the blog post.

So what impact did the lack of an immediate response have on NFCU’s reputation? NONE.

In the end, NFCU did respond, not long after the blogger’s tweet, not only on the blog, but on Twitter, and directly to the people who commented on the blog. In my book — and I bet other’s — NFCU’s reputation was  enhanced, not damaged. But even then, mostly with people in the industry, not members. But I’m sure that’s still important to NFCU.

The point of all this is to emphasize one point: That “right-time” is more important than “real-time”.

Shoot a missile at me, and I better damn well respond in real-time.  Attack me on Twitter, and my response time doesn’t need to be nearly as quick. My SMART isn’t milliseconds, but — as the email channel learned — it isn’t 48-72 hours either.

Firms that launch a Twitter presence need to do some upfront thinking about what the right SMART is — it varies by the type of comment or remark,  and by who makes the comment or remark.

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