If someone tweets at your company Twitter account – how long should it be until you respond to their question or mention? That question, I believe, is one of the most important ones to answer when it comes to interacting with your users and customers.

Recently, we made a big change here at Buffer to improve exactly this. We started to track the response time for each and every Tweet that we are responding to every day. The results were both fascinating and motivating to improve that number and give lightening fast answers to any questions our customers might have.

As a quick snapshot of today, out of all 24 Tweets mentioning Buffer:

  • 17 Tweets were responded to within 20 minutes (70.8%)
  • 2 Tweets were responded to within 20-60 minutes (8.3%)
  • 2 Tweets were responded to within 1-3 hours (8.3%)
  • 3 Tweets were responded to within 6+ hours (12.5%)

Now of course, when it comes to fast customer support on Twitter, what’s really interesting is how fast the top dogs in the game are working. If you send a tweet to Pepsi, how long does it take them? How about Starbucks? A recent research project aimed to find out about exactly that. “Normal” Twitter users sent a total of 280 Tweets to their favorite brands, measuring their response rates and level of interaction.

What was interesting, was that even today, a huge number of these brands still have very little or no social customer service in place. To break it down, or friends from Unbounce collected all the data in a nice table:

 Pepsi wins the race far ahead of their competitor Coke. Without further ado, here are the full details of the study and how the brands reacted to their customers Tweets:


Infographic by Software Advice. Hat tip to Oli from Unbounce for posting this.

Did you expect the same results from those brands? And most importantly, what is an acceptable response time for your Tweet? I’d love to get your thoughts on this, especially as we are also always working to improve the happiness of our awesome Buffer users


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Written by Leo Widrich

Co-founder and COO at Buffer. I enjoy working on company culture, customer development and marketing. For more personal posts, check out leostartsup.

  • Great article. As the one in charge of replying to people connecting with our company, I wonder how should companies react to mentions, RT and favs to content published. Do you guy have any info on this?

    • Go Bulimia!

      If it is a big brand with someone on staff whose sole job is to manage the social media accounts, then RT’s and favs can be ignored, but All mentions should be answered. It makes the common person feel good when their favorite brand or celebrity actually noticed them and replied to them.

      If its a smaller brand without a dedicated social media position, then just reply to the ones you feel like replying to. but connectivity breeds loyalty. I, as a consumer, am more likely to frequent businesses that “listen to” and “care about” me than one that ignores me.

  • Hi Leo! As the one in charge of facilitating community conversation and engagement for @libsyn I know that quick responses are very much appreciated, and are really great for cultivating brand love 🙂 We get so much love with the quickness!

    That said, the hard part is guiding our community towards the optimal level of service i.e. technical questions will be addressed by the support team (here is the email address), and not responding to twitter questions at 3:30 am, which sometimes in my compulsion I am compelled to do! (don’t ask me why I’m checking twitter at 3:30am)

    I think that there are situations when NOT answering a twitter question or comment immediately is called for. There is something to be said for *space.*

    I can’t say that I have a hard and fast rule about that. I move on intuition, particularly when troubleshooting is going on. I find that there are times when immediacy is called for so the customer feels heard and other times they are too upset to hear anything and space is the way to go.

    Other times the immediate response is done via email.

    I’m not sure what to do with sarcastic, pithy and mean responses….any guidance on that end I would adore!

    One more thing. I think that for larger companies such as Apple, opening the door would just be too much. The kind of quality control that would have to go to every response would be so overwhelming, plus the incredible amount of queries from troubleshooting software to hardware issues to disappointed fanboys would merit a pretty substantial team.

    Thinking about that just made my heart race a little bit! Imagine the level of training, and what if some wording from a tweet was misconstrued or god forbid *wrong*. Goodness gracious!

    Nice post! Love the data!

  • Interesting survey, thank you for sharing! Would be amazing to do a similar exercise with luxury brands, they are supposed to be the top of the customer service. It’d be good to see which brands truly deliver on a premium digital experience as well.