Respond Faster

Note: This blog was originally published in our regular “What’s Up In Social Media with D.” column on We made one correction.

Respond Faster

If you manage your business or organization’s Facebook Page, and you get regular direct messages, you may have noticed the new Response Rate icon at the top left of your sidebar. (If you don’t get regular direct messages, you may not even have this option yet.)


Facebook is now measuring how often and how quickly you respond to direct messages, and if you’re really fast at it, you get a little green icon noting that you’re “Very Responsive to Messages.” To get the green icon, you have to respond within 5 minutes to 90% of messages. (Yeah right. I can’t even answer my phone that reliably.) It’s not an awful idea, though. The icon lets customers know that they can get a quick response from you if they send a direct message. Good customer service! But that response time is unrealistic for most organizations who don’t have dedicated personnel constantly monitoring their Facebook Page. If you’re not responding to messages outside of business hours, there’s no way you’ll have a good response rate. (If D. Cohn Communications were managing your Page, someone WOULD be responding to your messages outside of business hours. I’ll just put that out there.)

Now this is something you may not care about at all, and that’s just fine. But there are options for improving your response rate, even if you’re not at your desk. The first is to set your status as “Away” when you’re not available. If you click on Messages, you’ll see on the left that you can toggle your status to “Away.” This lets someone who contacts you know that you’re not reading your messages right now.

RESPONSIVE_CUSTOMER_SERVICEBut you can get even more detailed. Click on Settings, then click on Messages. Here you’ll see several options for fine-tuning the notice about when and how quickly you respond to direct messages.

First, you can set an amount of time that tells your visitors how long it generally takes you to respond. That way they don’t get antsy when they don’t get an immediate reply.

Next, you can set whether to have Facebook automatically show your status as “Away” outside of your business hours. Handy. You have to have set hours for this to work.

The next option is to create an automatic message for when you’re Away, so you can tell your customers “We care about your message, we’re just home watching TV right now,” or something like that. (Ok, I probably wouldn’t say that, but you get what I mean.)

Finally, you can set an Instant Reply. Use this when you know you can’t get to all messages right away, but you want to let your customers know you do read and respond to messages when you can. I recently set up one that reads something like “Thank you for your message. Our office is open M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. We respond to messages as soon as possible during business hours.” Again, the idea is to immediately let people know you care, but that it may take you a little while to get back to them.

Social media and direct messages have the unfortunate side effect of letting folks believe they can contact your business at all hours of the day and night and get a quick response. The reality is that’s just not always possible. No one would call your business at 3 a.m. and expect an immediate answer, but social media works on its own time schedule. Tweaking your Message settings can help you walk the middle ground of being available and open to messages, without the fear that you’ll look bad if you take the night off.